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October 7, 2013

’34 Ford Coupe Part IX: Details, Details

by Dave

Bill Evan’s ’34 coupe spent time in a number of shops before finding its way to Seabright. A car that’s passed through several hands presents a number of challenges, especially one like Bill’s. As you know from our previous posts, virtually everything on this car is handmade. From its hybrid tube chassis and front suspension to its highly modified body, aluminum interior and complex electronics, everything’s been designed and built from scratch.

As the car evolved, it became clear some of the early solutions weren’t going to work. To be fair, some never had the opportunity to be road-tested. Others were just bad ideas from the start.

When the coupe came to Seabright, the Vintage Air AC/Heater unit had been mounted in the trunk, on top of the gas tank. This presented numerous plumbing, ducting and air quality complications, none of which had been sorted out. We decided, as outlined in an earlier post, to move the AC unit to the firewall. Gary had this in mind when he originally built the dash/console, so, after a bit of modification, we made the move and completed the plumbing.
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Besides solving a variety of problems, this move liberated a good deal of space in the trunk, space we’d soon begin filling with the coupe’s elaborate electronics.
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As we prepped the interior for detail paint and sound deadening it seemed like a good time to also complete the ducting for the AC/Heater. The unit provides a defroster outlet, all we had to do was get the hot air to the windshield.

Gary began by building a plenum; he then cut out a section of the dash top into which this plenum would be mounted.
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We kicked around the idea of a bezel for the vent opening, but considering the limited height of the chopped windshield and the aesthetics of the dash itself, any kind of raised trim would stick up in Bill’s forward view like a pimple. A simple slot would be much more appropriate. Read more…

October 3, 2013

Hot Cars and Guitars — 2013

by Dave

Mike Dwight is a friend of ours from the Hollister area (Gary built a set of stainless metal-finished headers for Mike’s Roadster last winter). Mike has a long, colorful history as a custom painter in the area and his handiwork on hot rods, choppers, race cars and boats goes all the way back to the wild-eyed graphics of the 70’s.

Mike’s son Shane, a roots rockin’ guitar player and songwriter, is also a very talented guy. Based in Nashville, Shane has shared the stage with such artists as B.B. King, Los Lobos, Jimmie Vaughn, and the Marshall Tucker Band.

A couple of years back, Mike and Shane joined forces and launched Hot Cars & Guitars. Held each September at the rural San Benito County Fairgrounds southeast of San Juan Bautista, it’s an easy 100-mile roundtrip from Santa Cruz, most of it over scenic two-lane back roads.

The show is small, the venue is bitchen, the food is great, and the music rocks. This year Shane shared top billing with one of our shop favorites, Ray Wiley Hubbard.

I’m not much good at taking pictures from behind the wheel. I’m even worse when it comes to putting in words how good it feels behind that wheel, cruising over backroads with a bunch of friends – so I’m not even going to try. You’ll have to use your imagination.

It’s all grass and trees at the fairgrounds, and anchored by a large stadium we thought might be perfect for a little roadster racing.
Cars&Guitars.13_3 Read more…

August 11, 2013

“Bikes by the Bay” Vintage Motorcycle Show

by Dave

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know squat about motorcycles. I’ve had a few over the years; Scramblers, Enduros, a Bultaco Sherpa, a Triumph chopper. I’ve got an old Honda S65 that I keep for a pit bike — but I stay off the street. A couple of close calls with distracted drivers was enough for me – and this was before texting became popular.

While I don’t know much about ’em, I do like to look at bikes, especially the vintage variety. Each year the city of Capitola hosts Bikes on the Bay, a gathering of domestic and imported classics combined with a vintage parts swap meet. I know it’s Off-Topic for a hot rod website, but I snapped a few photos. Maybe you’ll see something here that fires your memory banks.
IMG_0876IMG_0887IMG_0893IMG_0865IMG_0875 Read more…

August 1, 2013

’34 Ford Coupe: Details Part VIII — Mirrors and Electronics

by Dave

1934 Ford Coupe

We’ve been trying to figure out a solution for the mirrors on Bill Evans’ coupe. The ones seen in previous posts were placeholders. Borrowed from a Ducati, their miniature size and integral turn signals were stylish, but worthless for actual rear view vision. The coupe’s radical chop dictated something more practical. As usual, the best solution was to build it.

Bill wanted remote adjustability so the first thing we needed were some motorized guts. Bill took up the hunt and came back with the finest the Internet had to offer:

Sleek Mirror of the Millennium

Gary blew the mirrors of the millenium (sic) apart, liberated the motors, and began hand-shaping new mounts and buckets.
Bill's Mirror_motor mount
'34 Coupe mirrorMirror motor and wiringMirror bucket_1Bill_Mirror_Bucket #2

We saw the addition of these motorized mirrors coming. The coupe sports a variety of creature comforts — heat and air, power windows, power doors, power trunk latch, power gas cap release — which are all controlled through banks of switches in the overhead console. Many can also be controlled remotely through a pocket key fob. Power mirrors are part of the package. Read more…

June 24, 2013

2013 Woodies on the Wharf

by Dave

So much of an event’s success depends on weather and June in Santa Cruz can be a real crap shoot. Many years we suffer what locals call June Gloom, a condition caused when the valleys inland of us warm up. It pulls the marine layer in over Santa Cruz like a wet, grey blanket. Sometimes it clears up by noon. Sometimes not at all.

We’d had an unprecedented run of brilliantly sunny mornings leading up to the event, and everyone was praying the weather would hold. It did and we enjoyed T-shirt conditions right up to the rising of Saturday night’s spectacular Super Moon. Sunday it rained. Woodies on the Wharf is like that.

The beautiful weather brought out thousands of woodie fans. The number of cars was up, too – somewhere around 180. The event kept me busy from dawn to dusk, but I was able to shoot some photos before the wharf filled with spectators. Enjoy:
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The SoCal crew arrived early to stake out their usual turf. The annual line-up of shoebox Fords was featured on this year’s poster.

Longtime member and one of the winners of this year’s Aloha Spirit Award, George Benson can always be counted on for something whacky. This year he made up some early Surfer Magazine-inspired cartoon fins.


Read more…

January 27, 2013

2013 Grand National Roadster Show – An Abbreviated Visit

by Dave

This year’s keynote GNRS display was titled “Woodies, Wagons and the Spirit of Aloha.” I was invited to display my ’38 but passed. Our shop has displayed cars at the show the last couple of years and it’s a lot of work. It’s also time-consuming, requiring nearly a week’s commitment. This year I wanted to simply check out the cars and visit with friends. For reasons unanticipated, it turned out to be a good call.

A number of my buddies were displaying their wagons and on Wednesday I headed south to hang out and help them set up. It’s a seven-hour drive to Pomona so I hit the road before sun-up. That afternoon, as we unloaded the grass mats, surfboards and tikis, my wife called. My mother-in-law had just passed away. I turned around and scrambled for home.

Alberta Dumont Chiavaras was born in 1924 in the little hamlet of Camp Crook in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Her family had pioneered the area, but the ravages of the Great Depression drove her dad west in search of work. He landed in Santa Cruz, took a job in construction, and sent for his family.  Alberta, her twin sister Roberta, their older sister and their mom all headed to the coast with their belongings strapped to the top and running boards of a Model A Ford.

In Santa Cruz Alberta’s dad built houses while her mom worked down the road from our shop at the Seabright Cannery. In 1942 “Al and Ro” graduated from Santa Cruz High and quickly found themselves caught up in the war effort. The twins went to work for Pan Am as riveters, their petite size allowing them to climb into the cramped spaces of the flying boats Pan Am was converting for war-time action. Both Al and Ro are noted today on a memorial at the “Rosie the Riveter” National Historic Park in Richmond on San Francisco Bay.

Alberta was part of what Tom Brokaw called the “Greatest Generation” and, while she had been ill for sometime and her passing was merciful, it was not without sadness. Thanks for your contributions to your country Al, and thanks especially for your wonderful daughter, my wife of 35 years. You will be missed.

Twin Rosies1942. A couple of Rosie the Riveters: Alberta and Roberta Dumont.

While my trip was abbreviated, I did shoot a few photos. Here we’re lined up for load-in at the showgrounds. The ’40 woodie belongs to Bob Lopez of South Lake Tahoe. I drove the shoebox woodie and towed the Baja Bug for my friend Jim Cocores. Jim drove the Sampan he owns with Mick Carolan.
Back CameraSAMPANrear Read more…

January 21, 2013

A Blower Manifold for a ’54 Chrysler Hemi

by Dave

Blown Willys 1

Our friend Tim Edwards has built a lot of hot rods, but he’s long had a hankering for a dragster. When the opportunity popped up to score a ’40 Willys, Tim was, excuse the pun, off to the races.

The Willys came with a Cad motor, but Tim also had a Hemi he’d been wrenching on for his son Landon’s ’33 tudor. He’d already done a lot of work on Landon’s Hemi, but oh man, it would be perfect for his new Willys. Landon, a very generous kid, agreed to a swap.

If the Willys was getting a Hemi, it would have to be blown Hemi — but like every project, there were issues. The motor was a ’54 331 and the heads were a one-year-only design. They’re clean and free of any water-crossover plumbing, but they’re also saddled with extra-tall heat risers. No blower manifolds were ever manufactured for them. 2×4 manifolds were available, but they’re rare. Since a 2×4 set-up would fit under the hood of  Landon’s project, Tim had tracked one down. He’d also totally rebuilt the heads. They were ready to bolt on.

So, committed to the heads, but determined to run a blower, Tim dropped by the shop. Could we weld a flat plate to the 2×4 to accommodate a blower plate? There was a ¾ inch slope from one end of the manifold to the other, but if a thick enough plate were welded on, could it be milled level? Tim chased down the materials and turned them over to Gary. We thought you’d like to see how he made it come together.
Blower Plate 1Gary perimeter welded an inch thick plate to Tim’s manifold. It took a lot of stick and a lot of juice, but when completed it provided a surface Gary could mill flat. He also added a pop-up valve. You can see in the photo above the fixture Gary built to do all the machine work. Read more…

December 20, 2012

Stainless Steel Headers

by Dave


Welcome to the Snake Farm. This header project came into the shop and we thought you’d like to see how it’s going together. It took a lot of noodling on Gary’s part just to figure out how to route it – plus the customer wants the entire system fabricated in stainless, then metal finished and polished.  This is going to be one beautiful car.
Flange ToolAn order was placed for a set of flanges, collectors, bends, and straight sections — and Gary went to work. He began by making a tool to stretch the tube to fit the flanges. Sections of bends were then meticulously cut, finished and welded to form the intricate turns required to accommodate the confines of the chassis and engine bay.

He pre-polished all the parts before final welding, then painstakingly filled and ground each weld smooth.



Side One is finished. It’s now on to Side Two.

October 3, 2012

’34 Ford Coupe: Details Part VII – Fender Scoops

by Dave

If you’ve been following the progress on Bill Evans coupe, you’ll remember that he sent us drawings of scoops he wanted added to the rear fenders. The customizing work done to the car before it came to us had resulted in a lot of mass in the rear quarters. The new scoops would either add more weight to the old girl’s hips or, if done right, could slim ’em down visually with the addition a new vertical design element. Here’s a “before” picture:

Bill wanted a WWII “Warbird” look for these scoops and, in our last post, we experimented with size and shape. Gary built a mock-up in aluminum for Bill’s review, then dove into the fender.

Read more…

September 22, 2012

Look what flew by the shop yesterday.

by Dave

How lucky were we to be directly under the flight path of the space shuttle Endeavour? It dropped down from the mountains above Santa Cruz, then banked a slow, lazy turn over the Beach Boardwalk and headed south across Monterey Bay.

If you follow the news, you’d think America was a land of vitriol and intransigence. The Endeavour is a great example of what we’re really about. Give an American the challenge of getting from here to there and he’ll build you a solution that’s fast, powerful, and cool. Think P-51. Think nuclear sub. Think Bonneville streamliner. The Endeavour Team built what has to be the ultimate hot rod; the fly-over was a genuine proud-to-be-an-American moment.

Props to my daughter Suzanne for the photo. I just stood there like a dummy with a huge grin on my face.


September 20, 2012

2012 Wavecrest Woodie Meet

by Dave

A road trip from Santa Cruz to Encinitas is always daunting. Especially in a 75 year old car. At some point you must pass through the belly of the beast that is Los Angeles. These days the LA suburbs begin somewhere north of Santa Barbara and continue south to the Mexican border. There’s no “good time” anymore to pass through it.

The Wavecrest Woodie Meet is worth the trip. Held each year in mid-September, it’s a good time to be on the road in California. The kids are back in school, the tourists have turned in their rented motor homes, and the weather is as good as it gets. I changed the oil on my ’38, repacked the wheel bearings, and hit the road.

On Thursdays, Encinitas hosts a downtown cruise-in. There were lots of woodies already in town, along with local cars like these:

Read more…

August 27, 2012

2012 Goodguys 26th Annual West Coast Nationals

by Dave

Last weekend brought the 26th annual GoodGuys West Coast Nationals to the Pleasanton Fairgrounds. I usually go both Friday and Saturday. Friday, while most of the cars are there, the crowds are small. It’s a good day to shoot photos, check out new products, and chat with vendors.  Saturday is packed – especially with the recent addition of late model cars — so on Saturday we go to the swap meet early, then spend the day visiting with friends.

This year my mom’s birthday fell on Friday, so we skipped the show and took her to dinner. She’s 89 and doin’ fine, had three Gin & Tonics, and was cracking wise with the waiter. It was a blast, but it meant doing the entire Pleasanton gig in one day. My brother arrived at my house before dawn the next morning and we were off to P-Town in the woodie. Good thing our mother didn’t want to party all night.

Here’s a little of what we saw at the show:

Gary Clark’s roadster is a real-deal ’32 that was hot-rodded back in the day – but it’s also a good example of headlight placement woes (see our previous post). The cast aluminum headlight stalks may be period-correct, but they turn an otherwise prince of a car into beady-eyed frog.

This roadster pick-up was an AMBR car from the early 60’s. It had been treated to a complete restoration. Remember when those individual side pipes were happening?

Usually I walk right past the low riders, but this tail-dragging Chevy was clean and, unlike many of its compadres, super subtle.



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July 21, 2012

Woodies on the Wharf 2012

by Dave

The end of June saw the 18th annual running of Woodies on the Wharf. Much more than a car show, this year’s event featured cars like a ’49 Mercury sporting an aluminum-blocked, Ardun-equipped flathead, a legendary surfboard builder shaping a balsa blank with an antique drawknife, and characters like a good ol’ boy named Cotton who drove all the way from Georgia with a trunk full of peach-flavored white lightning. We had perfect weather, bitchen little waves for the Friday Surf-Out, killer barbecue at Saturday’s tailgate dinner, and no one ran out of gas or ice all weekend.

A 158 woodies made this year’s gathering and while we were kept pretty busy, we had a chance to shoot a few photos:

This ’37 Dodge is both a rare bird and a good-looking car. You’ll have to excuse the glare. It was bright and sunny from daybreak. Throughout the previous week meteorologists had been predicting winter-like weather for the event. Wow, did they blow it. While friends in the local mountains reported umbrella-worthy drizzle, on the wharf we were in flip flops and T-shirts by 7:00 a.m. Read more…

June 20, 2012

Fathers Day 2012: The LA Roadster Show

by Dave

Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I was one of those kids that had the good fortune to grow up in Southern California in the 1950’s and 60’s. I also didn’t really appreciate what a cool dad I had. He loved going to the beach, he built me my first surfboard, and when the rest of the world considering it slacking, he encouraged my brother and me to go surfing.

Dad was also a lifelong hot rodder. He ran at the lakes in the late 30’s, always had project cars in his shop, and was partners in a D Gas roadster when he passed. He also made sure my brother and I had cool rides and, when Fathers Day came around, he took us to the LA Roadster Show.

When the siren song of Santa Cruz drew my brother and I north, dad continued to go to LARS on his own. One of my standout memories is driving down with my own son to see him one Fathers Day, then rolling out to Pomona; three generations of us trolling the swap meet and checking out the cars. At the time dad was building a tidy little full-fendered ’29 roadster. It’s what the cool, older guys in town drove when I was in high school. He’d only put a handful of miles on it when cancer took him. It seemed like it happened overnight. The roadster is now sitting in my garage. I wish he was, too.

A couple of years ago my brother and I drove our own cars down to LARS. I took my roadster pick-up, Mike drove his ’34 three window. It was a long day, especially in my little Model A. This year we decided to travel in air-conditioned comfort. We had a great time, scored parts in the swap meet, visited with friends we love (and don’t see enough) and even surfed some fun little waves on the way home. But when it comes down to it, Father’s Day weekend at LA Roadsters is really about the iron. Here’s some of the stuff we liked.

This little survivor was sitting outside the Ford Store in San Dimas:

Eleven hundred and fifty bucks for s Deuce firewall? Yeah, but it includes the throttle linkage…
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May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

by Dave

There’s a statistic that popped into my head when I woke up this Memorial Day morning. I stumbled across it in the book Unbroken, Laura Hildenbrand’s story of the life of Louis Zamperini. Louis was a hell-raising juvenile delinquent who grew up in an Italian-speaking family near Torrance in the 1930’s. A fleet-footed thief, he managed to dodge a jail sentence by returning to school and joining the cross-country team.  To make a long story short, Louis went on to participate in the 1936 Olympics and was closing in on the four-minute mile when World War II intervened.

Louis joined the Army Air Corps and, after the engines failed in a borrowed, beat-to-shit B-24, went down in the Pacific. He spent the next 47 days adrift in a sun-scorched, shark-infested hell. Rescued by Japanese fishermen, he then entered another kind of hell: the Japanese prisoner-of-war camp system.

While the book itself is spellbinding (author Hildenbrans also wrote the bestseller Seabiscuit) it mentions a statistic that permanently imprinted itself on me: During World War II our country lost 30,000 pilots, gunners, and bombardiers — just in training. That’s the equivalent of losing every man, women and child in a big league ballpark on any given game day. And this was just teaching our guys to fly.

But the military taught them other skills, too. Young gearheads from San Pedro to Bakersfield, San Diego to Portland, were trained in engineering, welding, sheet metal and millwork. They in turn came home from the war and gave us the modern day hot rod.

Bless ‘em. Bless ‘em all.

I posted this 8mm film on our website awhile back. It was shot by my uncle at Harper Dry Lake in 1940. You’ve probably already seen it, but I watched it again this morning in a different light. I realized that, within two years of the time it was made, virtually every young man pictured would be in a uniform, fighting a war.

Bless ‘em all.