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January 10th, 2006

The Reuter Bandinis Part I

By Pete Vack

In a series of emails to VeloceToday that began with a simple question, the fate of Clair “Sonny” Reuter and the Bandini he had owned for a half a century played out before us with sadness and loss as well as a fitting and most remarkable ending. The Reuter Bandini was the instrument which saw the passing of a generation, and the continued sharing of a tradition by two families, now united by one death.

But let us not imagine ourselves to be drama writers. Far better to let the emails, suitably edited, speak for themselves, with only a minimum of moderation in between. The first email was from one Mary Kuly who resided in Illinois. Her emails to VeloceToday are superimposed on the photos she sent of her father racing his Bandini in 1957-58.

We took note immediately. The Reuter Bandini had been part of the Bandini history for years--in the Midwest, a Jack Reuter had or still owned a cycle fendered car.

But that was Jack. According to Mary, this Bandini was owned by Clair E. Reuter.

The odds that two different Reuters, both from the Midwest, both the same approximate age, both owned something as rare as a Bandini were impossible to calculate.

It had to be the same family. We emailed back immediately and said of course we’d like to discuss the car with her, and btw, isn’t his nickname “Jack”?

She replied the same day but there were other, more important things on her mind.

We told Mary that there is value to the car in any condition but will vary with the amount of documentation you can provide, race history, etc, original parts you may have, and if she could find the original body.

Later that same day, after having a chance to think about Jack Reuter, we suddenly recalled a correspondence, more than a year earlier, from a Cliff Reuter. Yep, Cliff was Jack’s son and both were living in St. Louis. What was going on? Obviously there WERE two Reuter Bandinis, both in the Midwest. And yet the families apparently did not know each other.

We received the photos as promised. Apparently Reuter was told that the SCCA would no longer allow cycle fendered cars to compete. He ordered a Devin body and left the remains of the Bandini body in the back yard.

There was no further news for a couple of weeks and when it came it was not good.

I too, was stunned at the news, and felt so badly for Mary and her brothers, who were, it seemed, just getting to know a side of their father so long ignored. Then, suddenly, it’s too late. Losing a parent is a very difficult part of life and one can feel the pain even without meeting the people involved.

I wrote back offering sincere condolences. We knew that in the weeks to come, Mary Kuly and her brothers would have many things to deal with and the last thing on their mind would be an old Italian race car.

Without Clair’s guidance, Mary and her brothers were at a loss. They needed advice and help in the garage. So often when someone passes away, the cars, parts, photos and collectables end up being literally thrown away, and we were concerned that Reuter's Bandini may end up in the scrapyard. Mary Kuly, however, was not about to let that happen to her late father's treasure.

Read Part II.

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The Reuter Bandinis Part II

Car Guy Tour 2007

The Reuter Bandinis Part I

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