Mormon Meteor III


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Date Location Driver Driver Country Vehicle Power Speed over
1 Km
Speed over
1 Mile

Mormon Meteor III restored

Deseret News 29Aug00 P2
By Ray Grass: Deseret News sports writer
Marv Jenkins makes historic car shine after its long abuse by state of Utah

ST. GEORGE, UTAH -- Sixty years ago, the Mormon Meteor III was the fastest car in the world. Its owner and driver, David Abbott (Ab) Jenkins II, cherished the car, and sold the valuable car to the state of Utah for $1 and the promise that it would be protected and cared for properly. For decades, visitors to the state capitol building saw it displayed prominently.

In 1992 Motor Trend magazine called it the fourth most valuable car ever built, but the state failed to live up to its agreement, and now the Mormon Meteor III sits in a two-car garage in St. George.

After being displayed in a parade in 1971, the state forgot to pick up the car. It was stored by a towing company, but was vandalized and received water damage as well. Marv Jenkins, son of the original owner, received little help from the state to restore the car, and sought to reclaim the title. The state was willing, but "then it found out what the car was worth (one estimate places the value at more than $5 million) and they made a 180-degree turn. I've had nothing but grief ever since," Jenkins said.

After years of negotiations with Governor Norm Bangerter, an agreement was reached. It fell apart, however, when Mike Leavitt was elected Governor. Additional agreements have left Jenkins distrustful of the state.

"It took several years for the state to break the first agreement, two years for them to break the second and in a matter of months they broke the third. I've had it. I don't trust anything they say," Jenkins said.

Although he set many driving records, Ab Jenkins may best be known for his 1940 run in the Mormon Meteor III while he was mayor of Salt Lake City. He drove the car 3,868.14 miles in just 24 hours, averaging 161.18 mph. It was a record that would stand more than 50 years.

Later, in 1956, Ab and Marv Jenkins broke 26 records in a Pontiac, averaging over 118 mph while driving at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Ab Jenkins did a month later at the age of 73. The following year, Pontiac renamed the car the Bonneville.

Marv Jenkins has restored his father's Mormon Meteor III, and drove it on a St. George dragstrip several weeks ago. He has had offers to drive the car on the track of the Indianapolis 500 raceway, and to take the car to Europe.

Jenkins has been frustrated by the state's lack of attention to the historic car. "All my dad ever wanted was for people, especially the kids, to see the car," Jenkins said. "That's all I've ever wanted."

Now, after his son has worked more than 7000 hours restoring the car, Ab Jenkins is getting his wish once again.

Mormon Meteor III - Jay Leno's Garage