Tikipunga High School Automotive Trades Academy, Whangarei. Tutor, Mr. Clint Mc Ewen.
The aim of the academy is to help students gain experience in the automotive and engineering field and earn them industry unit standards to help them move onto apprenticeships after leaving school. The academy had previously acquired cars to restore but building a car from scratch was a whole new level of learning for the students. Because the project ran over a 3 year period the student roll changed and it is hoped that the practical experience gained by the many students who participated in the academy have used this time spent on the build of the Tiki T to move on with their lives and into strong employment.
Whangarei Rod and Custom Car Club donated many parts and $10,000 to kick start the project. President, Barbara Massicks said that in 2017 club members where discussing that their club membership was ageing and as a club wondered how could they get younger people interested in Rodding and Classic cars. It appeared that the younger generation where moving more towards European and Japanese cars and the Club wanted to generate a interest in Hot Rodding and Classic Car ownership amongst younger people. Many of the youngsters think its quite expensive to get into Hot Rodding but a well built and engineered T Bucket is really a affordable entry level Hot Rod.
The car club approached Tikipunga High School and together presented the project to the school board and the school went with it in 2017. On Tuesday 22nd September 2020 the project Tiki T as it was named was unveiled at Tikipunga High School after almost 3 years in construction. The T Bucket is based on a 1923 Ford Model T, and powered by a Chrysler 318cid V8 with a 904 automatic transmission, late model diff., custom chassis, old school beam front axle with disc brakes, fiberglass body and radiator surround, along with mag wheels and custom paint job for the finishing touch.
This project could not have succeeded without the willingness of the car club to be involved, the foresight of the school and all of the students, tutors, volunteers, and different companies from all over New Zealand who donated time, goods, skills and finance to help complete the Tiki T.
Hopefully the T Bucket will go to auction later this year to recoup some of the costs in its construction.
Article written by Peter Lee, committee member of the American Classic Car Club Auckland.
For many, a 1932 Ford roadster is the quintessential hot rod. Take a look back at the original—the trendsetting car that became the benchmark of style for so many hot rods that came after it and remained an icon even as hot rod tastes changed throughout the decades. For more information on the McGee Roadster and the National Historic Vehicle Register, please visit www.historicvehicle.org.
It’s a common situation. Many project cars reach a point in the build when you have to make a choice: keep building it as a driver or step it up and build it as a high-level show car.
Joe Horisk never had to make that choice. His most recent car was always meant to be a driver and was always meant to be a contender for the most prestigious show car award around—the Ridler Award. We know that Joe accomplished the second goal. When his custom 1961 Impala wagon appeared at the 2016 Detroit Autorama, it had everybody talking—including the judges, who selected Joe’s now-famous Double Bubble as a Pirelli Great 8 winner and Ridler finalist.
If there’s such a thing as a 1961 Impala guy, it’s Joe. His first new car (long gone) was a 350hp 348-powered 1961 with a four-speed (the biggest and fastest fullsized Chevy at the time). Fifty years later, he built a white 1961 bubbletop muscled up with a 600-horse Merlin 540ci big-block. That car won a Street Shaker award from STREET RODDER (read about it athotrod.com/articles/1212sr-1961-chevy-impala).
The plan for the latest Impala was a little different and a little more ambitious. In Joe’s words, “It all started with me wanting to create what I thought a 1961 Impala concept car might look like after the demise of the two-door Nomad.” Part of the inspiration was the phantom 1955 Chrysler wagon built by J.F. Launier a few years ago (hotrod.com/articles/0810rc-1955-chrysler-two-door-wagon).
Joe started the project the way a Detroit designer would—with artwork. He got together with designer/illustrator Eric Brockmeyer. He said that Brockmeyer understood his ideas and the first rendering was spot on. Over the following eight years, there would be many more ideas and drawings, with Brockmeyer contributing to practically every inch of the car’s design.
A friend in Arizona had the Impala Joe needed to turn the concept into a car. The Double Bubble project started with Larry Stewart at One Off Rod & Custom Inc. in Middletown, Delaware (now under different ownership). The build continued with Jesse Greening at Greening Auto Company (builders of several Great 8 finalists and two Ridler-winning cars).
The original strategy for creating the roof involved extending the top with an additional top from a 1961 Pontiac bubbletop. “I cut the top off of the Pontiac and set it on the back of my Chevy, to create a double bubble,” Joe explains. The idea made sense, but it didn’t work as planned. Eventually, the entire roof was fabricated by hand. Countless modifications went into creating the one-of-a-kind top. The ribs are a nod to the Tri-Five Chevy Nomad. The top got a 3-inch (or so) chop, with the uncut windshield laid back and tucked into the cowl area. AM Hot Rod Glass provided the glass. The rear glass was installed into a handmade hatch. All glass is flush-mounted to provide a contemporary detail. All pillars were made by hand, and the window garnish moldings were modified to match the custom pillars.
The extensive mods continue through the rest of the body. Lengthened front sheetmetal, shaved door handles, CNC-formed billet side trim, and modified fender flares contribute to the lower profile changes. The hidden wipers and cowl hood are more nods to later GM styling; Brockmeyer and Joe designed the steel hood’s power lift system.
The front was cleaned up by replacing the factory bumper with a custom-fabbed Camaro-style bumper “as if that was something the GM designers had come up with in the early ’60s, a few years before actually putting it on a production car,” Greening explains. Custom driving lights were mounted below the bumper. The rear bumper and taillights were created to complement to looks of the front of the car.
Greening Auto Company had experience with CAD technology, CNC machining, and 3-D printing, and put that to good use creating several components on the Impala, such as the machined mirrors, and the headlights and taillights that feature machined bezels and 3-D printed lenses. Lighting is an intentional theme on the Impala. Lights are incorporated into the reworked fender spears, also created with 3-D metal printing.
Even the rear license plate is worth noting. Double Bubble is registered in Joe’s home state of Delaware where the DMV authorizes vehicle owners to use original or replica antique porcelain plates. Lucky for Joe, “61 409” was available.
The 18- and 20-inch wheels were custom built for a ’60s look with contemporary dimensions. Dave Wagner at Schott Wheels provided these plus-sized replicas of the 14-inch wheel covers worn by stock 1961 Impala bubbletops. Even the tires are custom. Diamond Back Classics modified Goodyear Eagles, working with a rubber lab to create the 3/8-inch sidewall stripes, color matched to the side molding paint, and the interior upholstery.
Double Bubble is set on a full Art Morrison Enterprises frame. Mirrors underneath the wagon at the Detroit Autorama revealed radiused corners and boxed ’rails with added sheetmetal to dress things up—“Detroit stuff,” as Greening calls it. The beefy CNC-machined custom triangulated four-link setup locates the 3.50-geared Ford 9-inch equipped with a Detroit locker and spinning Strange axles. The front A-arms are also CNC-machined—and beefy. RideTech ShockWaves at all points provide a great ride, and a Mustang rack and Flaming River steering column keep the car on course. Slowing down is no problem with front and rear Wilwood brakes, featuring six-piston calipers gripping 14-inch rotors.
The engine compartment is cleaner than the inside of a bubble thanks to a design by Brockmeyer and Joe, and a lot of sheetmetal fabrication by Greening Auto Company. The 1963 Chevy 409 went to Carma Performance in Nashville where Erin Carpenter stretched the displacement to 473 ci, running an Eagle crank and 10.5:1 pistons. The engine is fed by a custom EFI setup with nostalgic injector stacks on a one-off manifold. Edelbrock cylinder heads are topped by stock valve covers; the DB emblems are a recurring theme throughout Double Bubble (more “Detroit stuff”). The headers and exhaust are custom pieces, with Flowmaster mufflers. A PerTronix ignition fires things up. Cooling is accomplished by a Be Cool radiator and Cooling Components fan. Backing up the 409 is a five-speed Tremec with a McLeod clutch. The engine was painted with a satin clear over the basecoat to contrast with the shine of the exterior paint.
The wagon’s stunning white finish was accomplished by Jacob Eden and Ben Giuliano who were shooting for Greening Auto Company at the time along with Jeff Greening. Jesse and Joe knew that putting white paint on the big car—especially one built for Ridler competition—was a bold choice. The secret to success, Greening told us, was in finding the right white. The wagon was too big for a soft yellow-toned white. The cooler tone they selected, using Glasurit paint products, sharpens the lines, and highlights the shape of the body. Even under the unflattering lights of Cobo Hall in Detroit, Double Bubble looked incredible.
That tan color from the exterior trim carries over into the interior. Paul Atkins in Hanceville, Alabama, stretched tan leather over the 1961 Cadillac Eldorado seats, trimmed with chromed aluminum. The front buckets and rear bench feature a waterfall design on the back. The door panels were finished the same way, and lighting was incorporated into the custom armrests. The dash was hand-fabricated to be an updated interpretation of a 1961-1962 Chevy dash, and covered in brown leather. Sixties-style ribbed inserts, built from chromed stainless steel create a theme that extends from the gauge panel and glovebox door to the steering wheel, shifter plate, and custom pedals. The look continues on the faces of the Classic Instruments gauges, and on the shifter top built by Motorhead Jewelry. A Vintage Air A/C system provides cool air through custom vents. The rear deck is covered with leather covered steel strips and chromed bands over a solid piece of carpet. You won’t find any bent or crushed carpet tufts because Atkins used a shaving razor to cut the carpet pile beneath the bands.
Everyone who saw Double Bubble at its Detroit debut knows that Joe accomplished his second goal: to build a bona fide contender for the Ridler Award. Everyone who saw it in Louisville, Columbus, Syracuse, and Pigeon Forge knows it too. So what about the first goal—you remember, to build a driver? Joe hasn’t forgotten. The next time you see Double Bubble, it will be on the street.
Article courtesy of Hot Rod Network, written by Tim Bernsau.
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons is no stranger to the automotive world with a car collection like no other, including cars like “CadZZilla”, which we featured in last month’s Hot Rods You Should Know feature. But there is one car owned by Gibbons that is by far his most famous ride to-date and that car is none other than the chopped 1933 Ford coupe known as “Eliminator”.
If you don’t know what Eliminator is, well, you haven’t done much listening of rock music since the 1980s or digested mainstream media like the rest of us have over the last few decades. Eliminator is one of the most famous hot rods out there, so much so that even decades after its creation, hot rod enthusiasts instantly recognize the car. More so, many, MANY clones of the car have been produced in the market, making it nearly impossible to have never seen a coupe like the famous ZZ Top car.
Yes, Eliminator is in fact nearly as famous as its owner, having been featured on two of ZZ Top’s album covers, appeared in a handful of the band’s music videos, toured the country alongside Gibbons, along with at least one clone said to have been commissioned by Gibbons just for appearance reasons, and appeared in pretty much every hot rod, street rod and custom magazine on the planet, not to mention dozens of TV shows, movies, and automotive productions over the year. Eliminator is also credited with inspiring two of ZZ Top’s albums, one of the same name as the car, Eliminator, which came out in 1983, and the follow-up album Afterburner, which was released in 1985.
This car IS a big deal. But the reason you should know about the Eliminator coupe goes far beyond its international fame.With its debut came a whole new era of custom cars, radical enough to set them apart from the mainstream but traditional enough to unite hot rod and street rod enthusiasts alike. Eliminator also helped bring what some consider a dying hot rod culture at the time to the famed “MTV Generation”, helping propel the custom hot rod world to where it is today. Few other hot rods have had such a lasting impact on the industry!
So what makes the Eliminator so special? Well, aside from it’s legendary owner and resulting fame, the car offers several key “ingredients” of a note-worthy hot rod. The build of Eliminator was originally inspired by the Pete and Jake’s coupe from the movie The California Kid and is a true steel 1933 Ford, not a fiberglass replica of the classic Ford model. Having been inspired by The California Kid car, Gibbons brought on Pete Chapouris (the Pete of Pete & Jake’s) to do some consulting on the car, which was ultimately built by Don Thelen of Paramount, California’s Buffalo Motor Cars with a Pete & Jake’s custom chassis, complete with a dropped tube axle, 4-bar front suspension and a Ford 9-inch rearend underneath it.
Other defining features of the car include a 3-inch chop, custom 3-piece hood built by Steve Davis, ’34 Ford headlights, classic ’39 Ford teardrop taillights, and of course, the iconic red paint scheme with custom “ZZ” graphics, designed by Kenny Youngblood. Under the hood, you’ll find a So-Cal Speed Shop-built SBC 350ci V8 with a single four-barrel carburetor, tied to a Turbo 350 transmission for reliability sake. And yes, that means the car is more than just a show piece.
It’s said that while some groups struggled with the introduction of music videos in the late 1970s and early 1980s, ZZ Top turned to what they knew best — rock and roll, cars and attractive females– for their music videos and their efforts paid off big time!
While Eliminator certainly played its part in the early music videos of ZZ Top, including for songs “Gimme All Your Lovin”, “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man”, the hot rod did get driven and enjoyed as a car should in the 80s after it made its industry debut. In fact, in the early 80s after the car appeared in its first ZZ Top music video, Gibbons teamed up with Chapouris in The California Kid car and Jake Jacobs (the Jake of Pete & Jake’s) in a custom 1934 Ford Coupe and the band and friends cruised Sunset Boulevard for Eliminator’s “maiden voyage.”
Later on in the 80s, Gibbons drove the ’33 Ford cross-country from L.A. To New York with one of the music video girls the band used, Kymberly Herrin, and Allison Ohnstede along for the ride. In a 2007 feature about Eliminator on the Gibson Guitars website, Gibbons stated that the trip took the group 10 days and all they had to do was fill the car up with gas and it was good to cruise in the fast lane!
Gibbons still owns Eliminator and the clone of the original car he had commissioned to help meet the demand for all the appearance requests the car and Gibbons got following the car’s initial music video fame. The original Eliminator now resides at the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where rock fans and hot rod enthusiasts can get a glimpse of the famous ’33 coupe year-round.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written By Lindsey Fisher.
It measures 31.5-feet from end-to-end, nearly 10-feet longer than a Ford Super Duty pickup. Despite the mostly aluminum body, it tips the scales at 13,200 pounds, and its 2,500-cu.in supercharged Packard V-12 produces a reported 1,600 horsepower and 3,000 pound-feet of torque. The 1940 Packard Royal roadster, created by plus-size car builder Rodney Rucker, is perhaps the very definition of political incorrectness, and on Sunday, June 26, it crosses the auction stage as part of Auctions America’s Santa Monica, California, sale.
Rodney Rucker has a passion for heavy equipment, and his shop has turned out everything from a tracked-vehicle monster truck to a V-8-powered shopping cart that seats eight. His better-known projects include the Pete’ster, a 1950 Peterbuilt tractor powered by a twin-turbo Detroit 8V92 diesel; Sneaky Pete, a 1964 Peterbuilt tractor chopped 10-inches and powered by a Continental AV1790 V-12, the same tank engine that powers Jay Leno’s Blastolene Special; and Rodzilla, a 1928 Studebaker sedan powered by a twin-turbo version of the same Continental engine.
In other words, he’s not a man content to build a roadster smaller than the Blastolene Brothers Special. For the Packard Royal, Rodney chose a military engine of a different origin, opting to use a Packard V-12 that began its life powering a PT boat during the Second World War. Used as fast attack boats, PT (for Patrol Torpedo) boats were typically powered by three (and sometimes four) normally aspirated Packard engines, each producing a rated 1,200 horsepower. Unarmored (but hardly unarmed), PT boats used speed an maneuverability as their primary defense.
Adapting a purpose-built marine engine for use in a plus-size roadster presents numerous engineering challenges, particularly when the engine is supercharged for added power. The Packard V-12 spins in an opposite direction to conventional automobile engines, so to circumvent this, Rodney employed two transmissions and two drivelines in the Packard Royal. Cooling the beast requires four radiators, six electric fans (and two heavy-duty alternators), and 25 gallons of coolant, and as Rodney explained at the car’s 2014 introduction, its 31-foot length was required to house everything needed to keep the Packard running on all 12 cylinders.
That includes 30 gallons of oil and 100 gallons of gasoline, enough to get the car somewhere between 75 and 150 miles down the road, depending upon the level of driver enthusiasm. With its gleaming aluminum and brass bodywork, thunderous roar (and occasional jet of flame from the exhausts), the Packard Royal is not the car for introverts, those on a budget or anyone even remotely concerned about the environment.
Building the roadster took an estimated 12,000 man hours over five and a half years, a process lengthened by the trial and error process employed by the crew. Chip Foose reportedly consulted on the body design, and scale aside, it isn’t an unattractive car. It will certainly command attention wherever it’s driven, though the list of states willing to issue plates and registration to such a creation likely won’t stretch to fifty.
It’s certainly difficult to price such an automobile, given the amount of work that went into its creation and the limited population of potential buyers, but Auctions America predicts a selling price between $450,000 and $600,000 when the Packard Royal crosses the block in California. Whether that’s high or low, we suppose, all depends upon how many qualified bidders decide they want the one-of-a-kind roadster parked in their oversize garage.
The Santa Monica sale takes place on June 25 and 26 at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. For additional information, visit AuctionsAmerica.com.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Kurt Ernst.
If there is a single defining feature of a hot rod, it all has to go back to the engine swap. Whether it be a Chevy motor powering a five-window Ford, a HEMI motivating a Mercury lead sled, or a Camaro with the running gear of a Toyota Supra, your typical hot rod has an engine that is anything but stock. But there are so many motors beyond what’s available in the automotive sphere, as this video demonstrates exceptionally well.
The Plymouth Air Radial Truck, as it is simply called, is a 1939 Plymouth pickup that has had a 12.5 liter (!!) radial engine from an airplane stuffed into the engine bay. It’s a mad piece of machinery, and it runs with the aeronautical theme from front to back.
The centerpiece of this hot rod is obviously the massive airplane engine, a seven-cylinder 12.5 liter motor built by the Jacobs Aircraft Engine Company for the Cessna 195. Said to produce 300 horsepower, the engine obviously wasn’t chosen because it makes a ton of power. Rather it was an aesthetic and thematic choice, as the rest of the pickup has adopted a 30s-era airplane.
That look that includes riveted sheet metal, a pair of steering wheels for both pilot and co-pilot that appear as though they came straight out of the Spirit of St. Louis, along with the gauge cluster. Built by Gary Corns and his team for Colorado Auto and Parts, this build really steps up our expectations from the hot rod community. It’s time to open the floodgates and start bringing in drivetrains from outside the world of cars and trucks. What other powertrains can be borrowed for hot rodding?
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Chris Demorro.
The 3-1/2 year build on this 1955 Ford Customline sedan ended just in time for the 2015 car show season. Everywhere the car appeared, people loved it. They loved it in Nashville, where the Ford was a Builders Choice pick by Bobby Alloway. The Ford continued to collects Builders Choice awards all summer—in Indy where it was selected by the Roadster Shop, in Des Moines with a pick by Roger Burman, and in Columbus where Andy Leach honored the car. It was especially loved at the Car Craft Summer Nationals in its hometown of Milwaukee. The Customline, nicknamed GT55, earned Car Craft award for Best Paint and Best In Show, and a STREET RODDER selection for Best Ford In A Ford.
Nobody loves the GT55 more than owner Gene Schwister. "I'm a Ford man," Gene told us. The folks in Milwaukee already know that, especially all the other Ford men and women who have purchased cars from the Schwister Ford dealership in town.
Gene’s grandson Tyler is another Ford man. Tyler was looking for cars on the Internet in 2010, when he spotted the Customline advertised for sale. It looked appealing and the body was described as “restored.” After negotiating, agreeing on a price, and driving to Pennsylvania to get the car, Gene realized that “not to be in the best of shape” was a better description for the Ford’s condition. Even so, he knew that he and Tyler could turn it into a nice car.
The project started at Gene’s home shop. With the body off the frame and stripped to bare metal, attention turned to the chassis. One of the first decisions was to use an Art Morrison chassis as the updated platform for the sedan. Engine and transmission mounts were added to the tube frame. The frame was ground smooth and powdercoated in the same color that would eventually be used in the interior. The Art Morrison Enterprises independent front suspension with dropped spindles was added. Power steering is provided by a Ford rack. The Strange Engineering Ford 9-inch rear with 3.70 gears and a Posi is located by a four-link and Panhard bar setup. Antiroll cars and Strange coilovers front and rear upgrade the Ford’s ride. Many of the suspension components were smoothed and finished with black powdercoating.
Once Gene and Tyler had the body back on the frame, they turned to Dave Widmann at Dave's Hot Rod Shop in West Bend, Wisconsin, for help with the build. By now, Gene told us, the bodywork was moving way beyond dent and rust repair, and the “nice car” was on its way to becoming extraordinary.
The body modifications are subtle but extensive. The front fenders were reshaped to replicate the crown in the doors and to be flush with the hood edges. The fenders, hood, and rear quarters were peaked, holes were filled, and ornamentation was removed. The front bumper was flipped, and sectioned front to back, side-to-side, and top to bottom. The grille was sectioned, relocated, and reangled. A lot of attention went into customizing the lights. Dave created custom LED headlight lenses and lenses and bezels for the taillights and parking lights. Parking light buckets were resized to reduce bulkiness.
The contemporary tire and wheel combination blends with the classic body. Wide Toyo radials measure 225/35ZR18 and 275/45ZR20 and are stretched over 18x8 and 20x10 GTs from Schott Performance Wheels. Rolling stock is back up by Wilwood disc brakes. Six-piston calipers grab 14-inch front rotors, with four-piston/12-inch brakes at the rear.
Dave’s stunning paintjob is monochromatic black from SPI contrasted by a wide band of Black Diamond running the length of the hood, top, and deck—divided by saddle-colored pinstriping. The amazing effect is what earned Gene’s Ford its Best Paint award at the Car Craft Summer Nats.
Instead of continuing the black on the inside, Dave finished the custom sculpted door panels and headliner, modified 1965 Thunderbird buckets, and hand built rear seats in smooth and perforated saddle tan Italian leather—accented with Black Diamond painted pieces and stainless trim. Most of the dash was metal shaped, dressed up with a customer insert, and covered with a 1956 Ford dash top section—plus more Italian leather. Gauges were selected form Classic Instruments and a Billet Specialties steering wheel was chosen to top the ididit column. Pedals are from Wilwood. The center console houses switches for lights, ignition, and wipers, as well as the Kenwood receiver. The Vintage Air controls and vents are hidden.
Dave created the sculpted panels in the engine compartment and designed the brown and black color scheme on the Ford Coyote engine that powers the GT55. Gene and Tyler preferred an Eight Stack injection system to the factory setup, so a system was created for this application using Weber 48 IDA carb-inspired throttle bodies. Dave hid the injectors and hand-shaped the fuel hard lines—and built the fuel block and regulator. A Performance Electronics ECU and sensors control the system. Custom exhaust pipes run from the stock exhaust manifold to the custom stainless tips exiting through the rear bumper. MagnaFlow mufflers sound just right. The Coyote is dressed up with more Black Diamond paint plus satin saddle colored paint, which gives the look of leather. A Tremec five-speed ties the Coyote to a Dynotech driveshaft.
Gene told Dave that when the 1955 Customline was finished, he would stop building cars. That plan didn’t last long. Now Gene has a 1957 Ranchero in the works. In the meantime, he’s having a blast touring and showing off the GT55. As for Tyler, he says that his plans to autocross the 1955 Ford are on hold for now, while he and his grandfather continue to display their car at prominent events, where even Chevy guys love this Ford.
Article courtesy of Hot Rod Network, written by Tim Bernsau, contributer Robert McGaffin.
Even for those who have not heard it, the phrase "All I ever wanted was a hot rod" is simple in both its meaning and level of sophistication. It could be explained as: nothing extravagant—just something basic. But for anyone accustomed to not settling for second best, sometimes "basic" won't cover the bill.
A few years back Bob Briggs, a self-made man who in 1981 took a basic idea (custom hollow metal doors for buildings) and built it into a multimillion dollar business based in Fontana, California, looked back across a lifetime to a photograph he had of himself as a teenager posed against his 1936 Ford coupe, elbow on the roof and foot on the running board. What he'd like, Bob thought, is a hot rod: a baby blue 1936 Ford coupe.
Bob Briggs Jr. knew of his father's desire, and decided he'd get his dad the car he wants. So, after going on the hunt, he was able to purchase one. It had already been chopped and, wanting to freshen it up and make it completely driveable, both Bobs took the car to Fred Ingle at Fred's Wiring in Ontario, California.
Now don't let the name fool you. Fred's shop doesn't just do wiring—that's only one facet of the company that can do complete projects, from chassis assembly to turnkeys, with an emphasis on expert body- and paintwork. When they talked with Fred, the idea was to roll a new chassis under the car and give it some paint and new upholstery. So Fred ordered up a complete 1936 frame from Total Cost Involved Engineering (a company Ingle has worked with for more than 28 years) and began tearing down the car so it could go to the strip booth and everyone could see what was under the paint. And that's when things changed.
When they got the car body back, they were shocked and surprised on how much filler had been used in the old car. It was obvious a thin skim coat wouldn't fix these problems, so Fred told the Briggs about Marcel's Custom Metal in Corona, California. Known for their metal fabrication skills (they have built far more America's Most Beautiful Roadster and Don Ridler Memorial Award winners than anyone else in country), Marcel De Ley and his two sons, Luc and Marc, looked the project over (Luc says the "body looked like lace" and Marc understated the previous chop as being "not very good") and the trio told Fred and the Bobs what they've told many of their other customers: it would be easier for them to scratch build a new 1936 three-window coupe from a stack of 4x8 steel sheetmetal than it would be to repair what they had. Junior and Senior talked it over and soon agreed to the plan, but one more ingredient needed to be added.
Though the 82-year-old Marcel has been bending metal for more than 60 years and his two sons grew up in the shop absorbing their father's knowledge doesn't mean they're car designers. For that they've relied on Chip Foose, the well-known automotive designer and illustrator who, before his hosting of multiple television shows, met the De Leys back in the early '90s when he was working for Boyd's, as it was Coddington who relied on the De Leys to build the award winners he laid claim to.
Foose met with the Briggs, Ingle, and the De Leys to go over what was called for, and soon Foose's sketches were being prepared. The basic idea was to change the profile found on an original 1936 three-window to include angling the doors back a bit, laying the grille back, and pulling the top rearward for a more sweeping profile. Once the basic concept was okayed, Foose went about starting the project as he does all of the cars he designs: with a side elevation 1/4-scale drawing. First mapping out the chassis plus the height and location of the wheels, Chip then draws the side shape of the car, and takes them to a Kinkos to be blown up to full 1:1 scale. Those fullsize blow-ups, sometimes 18 feet long and 5 feet tall, are delivered to Marcel's shop and pinned to the wall. From that point on it would be the De Ley's job to use the drawings and make a car out of them.
Though they've built about as many different type of cars as you can think of, hot rods are easily the majority of what the De Leys do, though Marcel especially likes working on Delahaye-type vehicles the most. Work usually begins by taking the measurements right off the drawing and bending 3/4- and 1/4-inch tubing to build a fixture. With the TCI Engineering chassis already in the shop, the floor is made (with 1.5x0.75-inch tubing added for structure and strength), which will serve as a base for the rest of the car's jig.
Next the grille's profile is located, and from there horizontal stringers are copied from the drawing to mimic certain body lines and peaks. The drawing also shows the door opening, so the De Leys bend up the metal to create that, and more stringers soon help locate other sections on the car, such as the windshield. At some point the De Leys leave the illustrations and create areas not found on the drawing by eyeballing and, having worked with Foose for decades, can usually second-guess what Chip would want to do.
With the grille and door opening where they're supposed to be, the De Leys start on the cowl and firewall as most everything else is located off of them. They work in 18-gauge metal, shaping the material both over a tree stump as well as various machines, including shrinkers and stretchers and, for larger panels, an English Wheel. Since the old, hole-ridden body was still at the shop, Luc De Ley can take advantage of the fact by using it as a buck and shape new pieces and sections over the old one.
For the trunk, the rain gutters were made first before the rear apron was made to meet it. Each section is crafted and then another piece mirrored for the other side of the car. For the decklid, a hinged boxed structure is made to open and close before being skinned with aluminum. Once done, a smooth inner skin, also in aluminum, is made for added strength.
Once the body nears completion, with the cowl, roof, quarters, and rear section done, attention is turned to the fender bucks, also made from 1/2-inch square tubing. For this design, the front fenders and running boards will be one piece, and the rear fenders separate. And though the rear fenders can be made in just six pieces, the front fender itself (without the running board) is made in 14 pieces. Marcel and Luc De Ley soon follow with the creation of the aluminum hood and sides, and then the attention turns to the interior.
Foose has done a few conceptual drawings for the inside of the car, too, which not only dictates what the dash will look like but also how it will flow through the door tops and back under the rear window. Luc thinks he spent a month inside the car, creating the one-off dash and other pieces.
After the interior was complete, the exterior molding (a brass strip that runs from the nose and back to just above the rear wheel) was hand filed to a perfect shape before being sent to the chrome shop. But one section that still needed work was what to use for headlights and, after some discussions between Chip and Fred, Foose created a form for Marcel to shape the bulge that would contain the custom headlights, which uses a billet aluminum mounting ring machined at Chip's shop.
Once the De Leys were done with making the body and fenders (taking 155 days along the way to do it), the car went to Ingle's shop for, as Fred puts it, "the heart of the car." Fred, along with Zack Phillips (a 17-year veteran of the shop) and Jack Nickerson (whose been on board for the past four years), continued the construction with the addition of the structure to support the steering as well as designing an electric e-brake system especially for this car.
Though Marcel had made a plug for the car's grille, Fred gave the job of fabricating the one-off polished stainless steel grille to Don Stark of Street Rod Grilles in Twin Falls, Idaho. And though he never saw the car in person, Don followed the plug's design perfectly, so after he shipped it back to Fred, he was able to take it out of the box and pop it into place without any extra modifications.
As the car was going together, the project evolved from just a basic hot rod to a rather special one, but Bob Sr. always maintained throughout the build he was going to drive it when it was done, and not put it on the show circuit. For him, it just wasn't a consideration. Work continued with Fred's adding door rubber and then filing and fitting all the door and trunk gaps so they would have perfect spacing all the way around. Fred's also made new trunk and hood hinges, and they added limiting shocks inside the doors so they, being as heavy as they are, would swing open at a controlled and gentle rate. A custom nerf-type front bumper guards the leading edge of the grille, and 1955 Nomad bumperettes protect either side of the rear license plate.
Patterns were made up for the tempered side glass, and their edges were pencil-polished for a softer look. Fred also had Marcel fab up a rear belly pan that would hide a removable superstructure under the trunk, which houses the air tanks, solenoids, and other gear for the RideTech air suspension system. No item was too small to escape attention as even the vent lines for the gas tank include charcoal-filled canisters to eliminate any smell of gas inside the cab. Fred's also made up a symmetrical exhaust system, adding some electric cutouts so Bob could really hear the motor when he wanted to.
And though Bob Sr. had originally wanted a baby blue coupe, that color just wasn't going to work with a car like this, so many different color variations were being considered during the build. Some were solids while others featured a light top and a dark body. Ingle had made fixtures for the fenders so they could be painted at one time while off the car, and he'd sprayed nearly 40 different colors on some test panels (Fred likes to lean into the sages, silvers, and earth tones for his paintjobs) to see how Bob Sr. liked them. It seemed like the car was going to be dark green on top and light green below but, the day before painting was to begin, Foose had come up with some paint chips from BASF that turned out to be the final color: an elegant dark blue on top and a lighter shade below the trim line. Ingle sprayed the car with 90-line Glasurit waterborne paint and clear before Denis Rickleffs added a subtle pinstripe to the car.
Nearing completion, the coupe was sent to Gabe's Custom Interiors in San Bernardino, California, for some threads. Foose visited Gabe's shop during this phase, too, and he created another set of drawings for the upholstery team to follow. Blue, light gray, and dark gray leather was used throughout, with a wide pleated panel design mixed in with some contemporary sweeping lines. Lexus six-way electric seats were recovered and Dynamat was laid out below the wool carpet. The door pulls are from a '60s-era Porsche 356.
Once back at Fred's, the car was wired up with Auto Meter gauges, which were set into the dash along with a one-off insert made by Lil' Louie. An iPod-based stereo system was also put in place with five speakers, an amp, and an equalizer. A Vintage Air A/C system was hidden under the dash and Fred's created the wiring harness for the electronic fuel injection.
The engine in this ride is as impressive as the rest of the car, and it came from Roush Performance. One of their 427IR crate motors, the V-8 produces over 550 hp on the dyno. Mated to an Art Carr–prepped 4R70W four-speed automatic transmission (selected with a Lokar shifter), the powerplant will have more than enough power to quickly launch Bob Sr. anywhere he might want to go. That's in part to the CompuShift controller designed by Mike Hoy of HGM Automotive Electronics that allows programmable information to control the transmission.
A SPAL 16-inch puller fan operates with a Mattson aluminum radiator, and Smiley's Headers extract the motor's spent gases. The Total Cost Involved Engineering chassis is equipped with their polished stainless steel IFS setup and a Strange 9-inch (3.70:1) alloy rear is located with a TCI Engineering four-link. Wilwood disc brakes are on each corner, which slows the rotating 18x7 and 19x10 Foose wheels wrapped in Pirelli rubber.
The last time Bob Sr. had seen his car, it was in primer at Fred's shop. But his 78th birthday was arriving soon, and it was to make a grand entrance to a birthday party thrown in Senior's honor. As friends and family gathered in the front yard, Bob Jr. drove the car out of Fred's shop, through Ontario on a late afternoon, and down the street and into Senior's driveway where a beaming owner was waiting. Copying the photograph he posed for almost 60 years ago with his elbow on the roof and foot up on the running board (friends had even re-created the striped shirt he was wearing in the original photo) Bob posed for a new set of pictures with the car that has exceeded his wildest imagination.
Article courtesy of Hot Rod Network, written by Eric Geisert.
Chuck Redding, Sr., is a lifelong automotive enthusiast with a passion for building custom street rods. His builds exceed what is considered to be normal or typical, and tend to lean more towards unique or different.
Redding’s St. Petersburg shop with a few of his creations out front.
Two of his creations have recently been featured: His very unique Corvair MonzaRod turns heads everywhere it goes, and the drastically different Western Flyer Rocket Wagon is truly one-of-a-kind. However, this little orange and white Nash Metropolitan may just be Redding’s masterpiece.
Originally from Waltham, Massachusetts, Redding now resides in Saint Petersburg, Florida. For the past 32 years, along with his son, Chuck Jr., Redding has owned and operated Redding’s Auto Servic & Sales, just a few miles northwest of downtown Saint Petersburg. The shop is a full service, general repair center and surprisingly enough, other than his personal projects, very few street rods ever roll in the door.
“We don’t really work on rods here in the shop,” Redding said. “Our primary focus is on general repair, cars, and light trucks, we can even accommodate RV’s and medium-duty trucks, but building hot rods is strictly my hobby.”
Redding’s pretty little orange and white Metropolitan is a 1960, Series IV production. The Series IV production models incorporated several re-designs, including a functional rear deck lid, and front vent windows. The interior on the Series IV vehicles also featured a diamond pattern, and white vinyl trimmed seats.
Sales for the Series IV Metropolitan exceeded 22,000 units, making it the best selling Metropolitan ever. American Motors advertising touted the car as one of the best imports of its time. Production of the Metropolitan ended at the close of the 1961 model year, and sales of the remaining inventory continued through March of 1962.
Before we examine Redding’s Metropolitan, let’s take a quick look at the history of America’s first imported economy car. When most U.S. auto makers were going with the “bigger-is-better” attitude, the Nash Motor Company felt there was an untapped market for an economical transportation alternative, and that U.S. buyers would welcome such a vehicle.
Nash-KelvinatorNash-Kelvinator Corporation was the result of a merger in 1937 between Nash Motors and Kelvinator Appliance Company. In 1952 Kelvinator introduced the Food-A-Rama side by side refrigerator, the earliest modern side by side, frost proof refrigerator sold in America. In 1954 Nash-Kelvinator acquired Hudson Motor Company forming American Motors Corporation, and was directly responsible for the design and introduction of the Metropolitan to the American automotive market.
The first prototype was built and designed for Nash-Kelvinator by William Flajole; the car was unveiled as the NKI (Nash-Kelvinator International) in 1950 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Public reaction to this new “little car” was very positive and confirmed Nash’s theory that there was indeed a market for a vehicle of this type, if it could be produced and sold at a competitive price.
In 1952 Nash came to agreement with theAustin Motor Company in Birmingham, England to manufacture their new postwar, “personal use” automobile. This would be the first ever American-designed automobile that would be marketed exclusively throughout North America, sold and serviced through Nash, and later American Motors dealer distribution system, to be manufactured entirely by a foreign based auto maker and imported into the U.S.
The Metropolitan was also the first ever American automobile marketed directly at the lady of the house. Nash advertised the car prominently in “Women’s Wear Daily” as a perfect second car for the family; Nash also paid 1954 Miss America, Evelyn Ay Sempier to function as their official spokesperson for this new small family car.
Redding discovered his Metropolitan during a parts finding expedition for another rod he was working on. “I needed some parts for another Met I had on the rotisserie,” Redding said. “I had met this guy at one of the local car shows, he said he had a bunch of Metropolitan parts in his garage, and invited me to come by and take a look.”
Several days later he made the drive to the man’s home in North Port, Florida, about two hours south of his Saint Petersburg shop to see exactly what the man had available. “When I walked into this guy’s garage I was amazed,” he said. Not only did the gentleman have piles of Metropolitan parts, but sitting back in the far corner of the garage were two Metropolitans, all in different stages of restoration, the orange one caught his eye.
“The car was not much more that a rolling chassis when I first saw it,” Redding remembers. When he first saw the little orange car, he immediately knew, in his head, what he wanted to do with this car. His intentions were fairly simple: build the car to a stock appearing configuration, with an obnoxious power to weight ratio, a proverbial sleeper. He wanted to build a car that would have the kids with the modified imports thinking they knew a think or two about cars, only to be upstaged by this orange Metropolitan. Redding smiled at the thought and knew he couldn’t leave this man’s garage without that orange and white Metropolitan in tow.
After coming to an agreement with the previous owner, Redding returned with the Metropolitan to the familiar confines of Reddings Auto Service and began working on his latest project. The first step in the build was to modify the engine bay for the planned350cid Chevrolet power plant. He started by widened the engine bay and removing the inner front fender wells; he also removed and relocated the firewall seven-inches aft to accommodate the small block Chevy.
“The engine bay was the toughest part of the build,” Redding said. The previous owner, for some unknown reason, had completely painted the car, and had also installed a sub-frame with a Fat Man front suspension. “I wanted to save the paint and Fat Man suspension, so getting in there with a torch and sawzall was pretty touchy,” he said.
Once he finished the modifications to the engine bay, he turned his attention to the chassis and suspension. The Metropolitan was produced with a unibody construction, and due to the meager weight of the car at 1,785 pounds, suspension components were rather lightweight for what he had in mind. He retained the Fat Man Suspension that was in the car when he bought it, and extended the front subframe the length of the car to provide added stability and strength to the overall build.
“The new frame allowed me to install a little larger springs and shocks in the back of the car,” Redding stated. The Mustang differential that was already in the car was too wide, forcing him to remove and narrow the housing and drive axles some four inches. He upgraded the brakes to provide the anticipated stopping power that would be required to rein in his little orange beast, with 11-inch single-piston discs on the front, and 10-inch drums in the rear.
Once satisfied that the chassis would handle the load, Redding moved on to the task of installing the drive train. His engine of choice was the 350 cubic inch, small block Chevrolet, naturally aspirated. The first motor he dropped in the engine bay had been sitting on a stand in the back of the shop for a while.
“The first motor was just a little too hot,” he said. “When I first started it up and rolled out the shop to shake it down, it wouldn’t go anywhere, it just sat and spun the tires.” He exchanged the motor for a more mundane version, and that worked reasonably well. “I went with the mostly stock 350 and used a 700R4 transmission to help calm it down; I still ended up using a 2.73:1 rear gear to keep the tires on the ground,” he said.
The body of Redding’s Metropolitan is 100% steel, and original to the car. He eliminated the continental style spare tire from the back of the car, opting to utilize the area to house the fuel filler neck. The filler cap is from an early model Dodge Charger, and the taillight assemblies feature the orange European Lucas lens.
Front and rear bumpers have been painted to match, and the front headlights have been upgraded to Halogen. The car remains on a standard 85-inch wheelbase, and sits on custom chrome, 16-inch American Racing Wheels wrapped with low profile Sumitomo rubber. The door handles have been shaved, and all original badging has been removed. The grille is original to the car with the exception of the added bow-tie.
Redding entrusted the interior of his Metropolitan to long time friend, and upholstery guru, Jimmy Long. Long operates a small upholstery shop just down the street from Redding’s shop, and operates solely on a referral basis. Long is responsible for the carpet, the door panels, and both seats. The seats were done in a matching orange and white vinyl, in a very clean vertical pattern; both door panels follow the same theme and match the seats perfectly. Seat belts were special ordered in orange and the hand fabricated floor mounted console houses the sound system, gauges, and the Lo-Kar shifter. Redding installed a GM tilt steering column, and Auto Meter gauges provide Redding with all of the vital signs of the small block Chevrolet under the hood.
Speaking of under the hood; Redding finished the entire engine bay, and underside of the hood with polished stainless steel, to give a mirrored appearance when the hood is opened. The hand fabricated exhaust headers exit the engine bay through the stainless steel fender wells, travel under the car and terminate just in front of the rear wheels. The chrome Edelbrock intake and 750 Edelbrock carburetor add to the overall mirrored look under the hood, and last but not least, he has installed his signature see-through, color coded distributor cap as he has on all of his builds.
When asked what was next on his list, Redding sat back in his chair, rubbed his chin and calmly stated, “I’m not entirely sure, but I think it might be a rat rod of some sort, whatever I decide to do, I promise it will be something really bizarre, and your magazines will be the first to know.” Personally, this author can’t wait to see what this man comes up with next. It’s for sure, if Chuck Redding builds it, it will be cool, stay tuned.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Chuck Green.