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.