Our friend Marc (’41 Ford Pick-up) uncovered this little gem a couple of years back and instantly fell in love. It comes from a time before the widespread availability of low cost fiberglass-bodied T-bucket “kits.” Originally built in 1964 by Kurt Neilsen of Campbell, CA, it features an original ‘27 Model T roadster pick-up body and cut down Model A bed channeled over a modified Model A chassis. Kurt chose the ’27 body because it offered a little more room than the earlier T’s often used in these builds. A ’57 Ford donated its running gear – a 292 inch V8, three speed trans, and positraction rear end. The beefy nine inch is still in the car.
I’ve been working on my dad’s ’29 roadster — which means when its done I’ll have two open cars in the stable; that’s two open cars and no coupes. In spite of the incredible winters we’ve been enjoying, it still makes sense to have a closed car in Northern California. So something has to go…. For family reasons, it can’t be my dad’s. It’s got to be my roadster pick-up.
It’s been awhile since we posted progress photos of Bill Evans’ coupe. It’s not that we haven’t been busting ass – we promised Bill delivery this Spring – it’s just that the details on which we’ve been laboring, taken individually, didn’t seem especially newsworthy. Taken together though, they add up to a boatload of work.
The aluminum hood sides Gary built needed stiffening at the trailing edge so they’d match, and maintain, the contour of the cowl. We started by fabbing a pair of beaded stiffeners and riveting them to the hood sides. Gary then edge-welded the assembly, taking care to maintain the contour.
First, let me apologize for taking so long to post these photos. In this age of Instagram, folks expect to see pics posted within minutes of the show’s opening; for us dinosaurs still doing websites, it can take a few days. Especially when there are other irons in the fire (like new flatmotors, grandbabies, and the looming delivery of the Bill Evans coupe). Hell, it’s a wonder we find time to post anything.
There were a record 18 contenders for the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy this year; so many that they spilled into adjoining buildings. To cut to the chase, this year’s winner was a Bobby Alloway-built, Hemi-powered, ’33 roadster. Sporting dozens of modifications so subtle few of us could even spot them, the flamed roadster looked as if it had driven off the cover of Street Rodder magazine. I’m sure it‘s destined to drive back on. Exquisitely crafted as could be expected, it was also a very safe and non-controversial choice for the nine foot trophy.
If you’re the kind of guy that found your way to our website, you probably don’t need to be told who Earl Evans was. Evans was the compete hot rodder. He designed his own speed equipment. He made his own patterns, did his own castings and then machined them himself. Using his own products, Evans assembled his own engines, then dropped them into cars which he drove to record-breaking speeds. Read more…
I know a handful of you old guys are into traditional flathead motivation so here’s a bit of real-deal jewelry that may be of interest. This is a complete intake/carb/air cleaner package that came off Gary’s Deuce roadster. Tattersfield + Thickstun + Stromberg. These are all original hard-to-find pieces, not re-pops, and they’re in excellent condition. Here are the details: Read more…
Bill Evan’s car has resided in a number of shops over the years, but when it came to Seabright we committed to finishing it. This month his coupe passed a milestone in its life: a tour of the neighborhood under its own power. Its LT4/4L60E power train combo is controlled by an after-market Howell Engineering computer, our chore now is to get all those little electronic signals cooperating with each other. There are quite a few: Read more…
Pebble Beach, the Rolex Motorsports Reunion, Concorso Italiano – they’re some of the better-known events at Car Week down at the south end of Monterey Bay each August. They’re also pricey to attend. One of the few events free to the masses is the Concours on the Avenue, held Tuesday of Car Week on the streets of downtown Carmel. Entrants are hand-picked so there’s always a fascinating mix of sports cars, race cars, antiques and classics. The people-watching is just as entertaining.
This year the organizers contacted the Santa Cruz Woodies club and asked if we couldn’t arrange for a number of cars to make the trek south. The concours is not only at the far end of the Bay, it’s at the other end of the spectrum from our irreverent, sometimes raunchy woodie events. Club president Rowland Baker promised to behave and put together a group to participate.
The woodies were staged outside the event with another outlaw gang, the R Gruppe Porsches. We then paraded down Ocean Avenue to individual registered and numbered parking slots. The group included this family-sized ’52 International, a Chrysler Town & Country “barrelback” sedan, and a stunning ‘42 Hudson Super Six, one of 18 built. It motored off with a “First in Class.”
Quint Meland’s new Deuce roadster is a tribute, although somewhat more civilized, to the Model A he raced in high school. The car arrived at our shop with a 351 Cleveland motor and a C4 trans. Our first task was to swap in a big 400 inch Oldsmobile and Turbo 400 Quint had built at Mondello Performance. It took a lot of shoehorning, you can see photos here…
When we left off, Gary had started to build the headers. A key part of the tribute, Gary was able to capture the look of the original roadster’s headers, but at a level of craftsmanship appropriate to the new build.
We wrapped up the build on Quint Meland’s roadster (I’ll post more photos soon) and made a last-minute decision to blast down to the L.A. Roadster show. Quint’s build had been a long thrash, so it was a treat to get out of the shop for a few days.
This year’s LARS was the 50th annual and the internet had been humming with photos of roadster caravans from all corners of the country on the road to Pomona. After our run to Neal’s Hot Rod Party a couple of weeks back I wasn’t up for another eight hours in my roadster pick-up, so we made the trek to Southern California in my brother Mike’s mohair-lined, sofa-seated, flathead-powered luxury liner:
We stayed in Monrovia and our first stop was at Ed Belknap’s little slice of paradise. Our friend John Oliver had just arrived from New Mexico in his recently completed three window. More on this cool car in a minute…
Neal Jenning’s Hot Rod Party started back in the days when the big, Memorial Day West Coast Kustoms event was staged in the park in Paso Robles. Held at Neal’s shady spread in Atascadero, it was always a welcome break from the heat and hordes in downtown Paso. Small and low key, the party seemed to always feature the coolest cars, friendly folks, and enticing projects in Neal’s well-equipped shop.
When the WCK moved south to Santa Maria, the NHRP kept going – this was its 14th year — with an added twist: a lengthy run through the rural back roads of San Luis Obispo County. This year included a couple of stops, the first at craftsman David Wheeler’s shop in Atascadero, the second at a collector’s ranch east, far east, of Santa Margarita.
Quint Meland likes big motors. While his high school peers in Southern California were still messing around with flatheads, Quint dropped a 303 inch Olds V8 in his Model A roadster and went racing. Extremely successful, even as a young gun, his drag racing strategy was brilliantly simple: find out where the big name guys were running — and go somewhere else.
As a pilot in Viet Nam and later with TWA, Quint went on to run bigger engines, but his love of hot rods never let up. Several years ago he acquired the Phil Cool 1978 AMBR roadster. Running a blown L-88, this landmark car was famous for putting the “hot” back in hot rod. It ended a run of silly, over-the-top show cars that had dominated the Grand National Roadster Show for a decade.
With the Cool car, Quint’s just the caretaker of the Cool car. He had designs on a roadster of his own and, like his high school ride, it would feature an Olds motor. Quint contacted Mondello Performance and work began on a 403. Bored .30 over, it features Mondello’s Edlebrock heads, flat top pistons, a Comp Cam, roller rockers and a pair of 500 cfm Edlebrock four-barrels on an Offy intake. The motor arrived at our shop bolted to a Turbo 400 trans with a 2900 rpm stall converter.
Next Quint needed a car into which he could drop this monster. His ultimate goal was to build a tribute to his high school roadster, but to make it a little more civilized. Quint’s wife Shirley often rolls with him so the decision was made to step up to a Deuce. A good candidate eventually turned up in Arizona. Nicely built, it sported creature comforts like heated seats and a giant stereo.
Many of you saw Michael Dobrin’s article on Gary’s roadster in Hot Rod Deluxe magazine. We spent the day with photographer Tim Sutton who snapped this at-speed photo spread laying in the bed of my truck as I raced along next to Gary on the street in front of the shop.
At the time, Gary wasn’t running a hood. He had a full hood for the car, but felt it would be a shame to cover up that handsome flathead. Maybe a hood top would be in order. Louvers were already an element in the car’s traditional character – there are a hundred in the deck lid – so they’d be a factor in the design of this project, too.
Job One was to massage the top panels so they’d fall perfectly into place. It’s more work than you’d imagine; the hood hinge bracket had to be sectioned and the reveal reshaped before Gary got perfect height and gaps.
Layout of the louvers on a Deuce hood is a challenge and over the decades guys have come with a lot of creative patterns, some successful, some not so. The hood’s trapezoidal shape, the roll at the cowl and grille shell, even the pattern of the louver layout on the decklid, all must be taken into consideration. Doane Spencer got it right, of course, and Gary looked to Spencer’s iconic roadster for inspiration. Gary actually punched out rows of louvers on individual panels, then moved them around on the hood until he was satisfied with the count and the alignment.
Details, details. Progress continues on Bill Evan’s coupe, lately we’ve been going through work that came to us completed, but needed additional attention. The rear end is in the car, but had no venting. Gary machined a fitting and added a vent line. There was also a bit of slop in the front end. We thought it might be in the steering rack, but after investigation it turned out to be in one of the A-Arm’s spherical bearings. Gary machined an adjustment tool and corrected the problem.
We next moved onto the brakes. Installed and supposedly operable, they’d been sitting awhile so we pulled ‘em apart for a check. Good thing we did. The master cylinders were a mess. Whatever brake fluid was used appears to have accumulated moisture, then leaked and coagulated over time. It also etched the walls of the cylinders. We were able to clean up the mount and linkage, but couldn’t save the master cylinders. Fortunately replacements were available.