Let’s be honest, across car culture, judging a book by it’s cover is the first way we size up the competition. Looks are half the battle. The car hobby falls somewhere in a fantasy realm, where anything beyond utility is a luxury and we all fall into the trap like moths to a flame.
When we came across images of Chris Webb’s flat head engines we were aghast, the spell worked on us too. For these engines are not as they appear, instead some handy craftsmanship and devious packaging brings retro looks to modern power.
“I love the old flat head V8s so I thought maybe I could make a small block Chevy look like one. I did a proper shroud, the water pumps are tied into where the sbc water pump used to be and it’s sort of like a cocoon that goes over the engine. To the untrained eye it looks like a flat head. You’ve got the functionality of a small block chevy but the look of a flat head.”
So in a roll reversal of the adage ‘judging a book by its cover,’ Webb has taken the wrapper off something old and obsolete to hide something modern and practical. Call it what you will, a trick, gimmick, or other put down, but we think it’s pretty cool, after all we fell for it.
As Webb got further into describing the conception of his kits, the story became more endearing and intriguing. For most hot roders, aesthetics and the culture of the car outweigh race-spec performance.
The means to teach himself mold making and casting principles was a long road, but Webb persevered. He had a vision for his own custom rides, and found a shared interest in the hot rod community.
We originally discovered Webb at SEMA in 2015, getting there was no small feat as Webb relayed. “I signed up for SEMA and the rush was on, we took my Mack Truck with the V8, and the MG with the V12. They held us at the border for 42 hours so we missed the first day and a half.” Since then he has been expanding on his design, including a V16 to the V8 and V12.
“Both the V12 and the V16 just use a 350, the same small block. Probably 90 percent of hot rods have these small block Chevys in them, they’re wonderful engines, 75 million sbc engines were made, only 25 million flat head V8s were made. If you’ve got a ’32 Ford with a small block Chevy engine, at least you can make it look like it’s got a flat head,” he described.
“We had the v12 in the MG and everybody loved it, but I always wanted to do a V16. We have a show up here in Victoria called Deuce Days, it’s the largest gathering of ’32 Fords in the world. We rushed to get the V16 ready for Deuce Days, and at the show you couldn’t even see the car, it was ten deep in people.”
Hopefully someone out there sees the same intrigue and value Webb has cultivated with his Flatty kits and decides to carry on his production. For now we think he has a very interesting venture, that will gain attention, whether they know or not what they are looking at is not what it seems.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Trevor Anderson.