Category: Hot Rod

Coming to America: Czech hot-rodders find their place in the sun – Lyn Woodward @Hagerty

Coming to America: Czech hot-rodders find their place in the sun – Lyn Woodward @Hagerty

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At 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday, in an industrial Southern California suburb a stone’s throw from Disneyland, the guttural rumble of a straight-eight thundered ever closer. Stanley Chavik arrived with the squeal of cross-ply tires, climbed out of his replica 1933 Buick Shafer 8 looking like a Viking headed to battle, then cracked a broad, gap-toothed smile. “Oh, I remember you.” Stanley’s thick Czech accent rolled over his respectable English, which he learned only four years ago. “Come in!”

Stanley hails from the Czech Republic, where his father and grandfather were both car guys. It was a pale yellow 1940s DeSoto, its bumper heavy with metal spikes for an Italian Mad Max knockoff called I Predatori Di Atlantide, that captured his attention. Stanley got hooked on American hot rods.

The internet nourished his hot-rod daydreams. He’d browse classic images from the likes of Gene Winfield, George Barris, and modern builders like Chip Foose. After opening his own welding and fabrication shop in the Czech town of Zlín in 2003, Stanley married Daisy, who applied her business savvy and determination to the venture.

European automotive regulations choked the Chaviks when it came to how they built their cars, but a ramshackle 1939 Buick he’d acquired made Stanley’s dreams manifest when he rebuilt it into a replica of a Shafer 8, inspired by Phil Shafer’s early Indy racers.

After the car’s completion, and much contemplation, the Chaviks packed up the Shafer 8, their U.S. E-2 visa for new businesses, and what money they had. The family, now three with the birth of their son, Stanley Jr., landed in California in late 2017.

Hot-Rod Chavik USA, in sunny Orange County, isn’t large—only about 2000 square feet, with three garage doors that roll skyward to the lofted ceiling. The space owns its Eastern European orderliness. Any color comes thanks to the candy-hued cars that roll in and out.

Upon arrival to the States, Stanley had to buy the cheapest tools he could afford from Home Depot. “We don’t do credit. When we have money, we buy tools,” Daisy says. Stanley does most of his shaping with a Pullmax and his hammers. “I stopped using the English wheel. I prefer a pummeling hammer,” he explains, as if the famous British machine were too delicate.

Aluminum has always been Stanley’s medium. Daisy revealed that he used to shape metal roses for the girls at school. “I like weapons, also,” Stanley interjects, slightly puffing his barreled chest lest I think he’s just a flower guy

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Pick of the Day: Different twist on the hot rod – Larry Edsall @ClassicCars.com

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With this being the 90th anniversary of the classic ’32 Ford hot rod, look for prices of those vehicles to get a bump as celebrations are held at car shows across the country.

It turns out, however, that you can have a hot rod without going to the extremes of the ’32 Ford. The Pick of the Day is a hot-rodded 1922 Overland, and it’s private owner in Sacramento, California, is offering it for what seems a reasonable $16,995.

Among the things making this hot rod more affordable while still quite rare is its conversion on an Overland chassis and, instead of a flathead Ford V8 or even a small-block Chevy V8, the builder opted for an inline 6-cylinder engine from General Motors. 

Overland was founded in 1903 in Terre Haute, Indiana, by Claude Cox, a graduate of the local Rose Polytechnic Institute and an employee of the Standard Wheel Company. Cox relocated his automaking enterprise to Indianapolis in 1905. Three years later, Overland was purchased by John North Willys and became part of his newly renamed Willys-Overland company based in Toledo, Ohio.

For the 1922 model year, Overlands were offered in 3- or 5-passenger configurations, with roadsters, coupes and sedans each powered by a 4-cylinder engine rated at 27 horsepower. 

The seller says this hot rod has steel coachwork and frame from a 1922 Overland while the GM engine is mated to a 2-speed “power-glide” transmission. The ad does not specific which GM inline 6 is used, nor does it include displacement or power rating

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Go to Nebraska to see this iconic California hot rod – Larry Edsall @ClassicCars.com

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An iconic segment of the California hot rod culture is on display in a museum, but it’s a museum halfway across the country. The Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, but is showcasing the famed little black Model T hot rod built by a youngster named Ed Iskenderian, who soon would become famous for creating high-performance camshafts. “Isky” anticipates celebrating his 100th birthday on July 10.

If the Nebraska location for the famous hot rod seems strange, consider that the car is displayed with Ed Winfield’s cam grinder that Isky used as well as with the only other pair of Maxi cylinder heads known to exist. The car is owned by Isky and is in Nebraska on a long-term loan.

As the story goes, Isky — the nickname given by school teachers who couldn’t pronounce Iskenderian — and a buddy John Athan grew up in the same Los Angeles neighborhood and were fascinated by the cut-down and hopped-up Model Ts people were building. 

Athan built a T-based hot rod and then one based on a Model A (in the 1950s the car appeared in the Elvis Presley movie, Loving You). Isky acquired a T-based car from Athan in the late 1930s, replacing the 4-cylinder engine with a flathead V8 equipped with Maxi overhead valve head, and adding an Edelbrock triple manifold and Vertex magneto.

He made many other changes — 1932 Ford front axle with 1937 wishbones, Plymouth hydraulic brakes, Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, modified 1933 Pontiac grille, gauge panel salvaged from an 8-cylinder Auburn, and a flying-skull hood ornament Isky created in a high school shop class. 

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9 flavors of prewar hot rod at Mecum’s 2021 Indy sale – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty

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If you’re in the market for a prewar hot rod, Mecum’s Indianapolis auction running May 14–22 has something from just about every era you could desire. While the cars themselves were built before WWII, the different eras of customization really kicked off after the war. If you prefer your ’32 Fords and Model A coupes, roadsters, cabriolets, and sedans more in the factory flavor, Mecum has those as well. For now, let’s take a look at a 9 varieties of custom builds that trace a timeline of hot rod design.

Perhaps you’re looking for something simple with a unique pedigree. In that case, this 1927 Ford Model T track roadster might suit you. This racing roadster was built in the vein of the ’40s and ’50s racers that plied dirt tracks all over Southern California and comes from the collection of road-racing phenom Parnelli Jones. It’s powered by a 304-cubic-inch Ford flathead V-8 wearing a set of aluminum heads. It tuns on alcohol and turns the tires by way of a three-speed manual trans.

For those who would like a leg up on their hot-rod build but still want some say in the final product, this handsome, black 1932 Ford roadster has much of the hardest work already done. The subtle modifications and vintage speed parts give it a traditional 1950s hot-rod look. The Ford flathead has a 4 inch-stroke crank, likely compliments of a Mercury. It’s topped by a set of Smith heads and uses an Isky cam to breathe through a twin-carb Eddie Meyer intake and gorgeous Eddie Meyer air cleaner. Inside, the dash is filled with a full complement of Stewart Warner gauges. It doesn’t get much more iconic in the world of hot rods than a ’32 Roadster, and this one is built with a fantastic collection of vintage components.

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A 1963 Rambler American would make a cool ’60s-style hot rod. Here’s how I’d build it. – David Conwill @Hemmings

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Does a $4,500 project get the gears turning in your head? This one is in Bridgeport, Connecticut, now, wearing Tennessee license plates, but the McDowell Motors dealership badge on this 1963 Rambler American 330 indicates it was sold new in Toronto, Ontario, Canada—and probably built at the American Motors factory in Brampton, Ontario. The years and the international travel have spoiled the Frost White paint, but according to the seller’s description, the 196.5-cu.in. OHV six-cylinder and Borg-Warner three-speed automatic are rebuilt and functional, and the Rambler comes with a new old stock blue interior.

It just so happens that I had a Rambler American 330 at one time, and I loved it. Mine was a ’64, however, which was bigger, riding a 106-inch wheelbase and using panels derived from the 1963 Rambler Classic and Ambassador. The ’63s were the last of the 100-inch models, which originated with the 1950 Nash Rambler. I’ve always liked them, particularly in the 1961-’63 “breadbox” years, which were when squared-up sheetmetal was used to obscure the early ’50s roots of the chassis

Now, the odds are that this example will become some kind of semi-beater. It’s a four-door economy car, after all, and for the most part people neither restore them nor hot rod them. It will certainly make a fun driver, as it sits. The Rambler OHV six from these years was derived from the old Nash flathead (which was itself still available—my ’64 had one) and it came in 125-hp one-barrel or 138-hp two-barrel form. The downside is a steadily dwindling parts supply for those engines.

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1939 Ford Rat Rod Makes Decrepit Look Stunning – Daniel Patrascu @autoevolution

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There is no carmaker out there with as much influence over the custom industry as Ford. The Blue Oval has been making cars pretty much since cars were invented, and that in itself isn’t spectacular. What is amazing is the fact that, unlike the products the competition had to offer back in the early days of the industry, its cars are much more present in certain segments.

Although not limited to Ford, the hot rod and rat rod builders of today do seem to have a soft spot for the Blue Oval machines of old. We talked about many such creations in January, as part of the Ford Month here at autoevolution, but there are so many other builds out there we’ll probably keep bringing them under the spotlight for a long time.

This February, we’re celebrating Truck Month, and there’s no shortage of hot or rat rods in this segment either. For today, we dug up something titled 1939 Ford F1 Rat Rod, presently sitting on the lot of cars being sold by Gateway Classic Cars.

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Find of the Day: This Model A-based belly tanker looks the part; now it’s time to make it walk the walk as well – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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It’s hard not to see a race car built from a belly tank and get the itch to take it out for a high-speed pass or two at Bonneville or El Mirage; it’s what they’ve always been designed and built to do, after all.

This belly tanker based on a late 1920s Ford Model A for sale on Hemmings.com, however, is a little different, featuring a replica fiberglass tank and fairly stock Model A components that probably wouldn’t make for blistering speeds on the salt flats or dry lakes. But that’s not to say it couldn’t be made into a serious racer or, with some lights and mirrors, a fun little cruiser. From the seller’s description:

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What Is a Belly Tank Racer? Drop Tank Cars and Lakesters Explained – David Fetherston @Motortrend

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Variously known as belly tank, tanker, or drop tank race cars, they’re associated with vintage dry lakes racing.

Little lozenges with wheels and a view port zip along a dry lake bed. They show up in drawings and logos. They pop up at local car shows and land speed events. People call them belly tanks, tankers, or drop tanks, and they are associated with vintage dry lakes racing. But where did they come from, and why do they look the way they do? Belly tank racers are a mix of WWII aircraft leftovers and hot-rodding ingenuity. They’re part of the early days of hot-rodding but are still in use today. Let’s start with where they came from. Answer: the sky.

What Is A Drop Tank Car?

The drop tank was designed to extend flying time by acting as a portable fuel cell that could be dropped once empty. That way, the pilot could more nimbly engage the enemy. They’re also known as belly tanks or wing tanks depending on where they were attached to the plane. During WWII, they were available for the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, North American P51 Mustang, Northrop P-61 Black Widow, and other combat aircraft.

After the conflicts ended, thousands of the tanks languished in military surplus yards, and racers soon noticed. They snapped up the slickest shapes that would work the best as race machines. They were, and are, fast little suckers. Before WWII, streamliners ran just over 100 mph—today, more than 360 mph!

In early dry lakes racing, the Southern California Timing Association only recognized roadsters and coupes. They soon accepted streamliners because racers wanted to test new theories of aerodynamics. This morphed into many classes, and lakesters got their own game when they split from the streamliner class.

The attraction was that exposed-wheel lakesters were much easier to build than enclosed-wheel streamliners. The tank gave you the whole body, you could stuff bits of a Model T frame and a flathead motor inside and add Ford axles on both ends, and you were nearly done. That’s what the builder of the first recognized postwar tank, Bill Burke, did.

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Early Overhead Valve Cadillac V8 Engines – Hot Rod Engines 101 – @Irontrap Garage

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Another excellent engine 101 video from Matt at Irontrap

One of the most popular engine swaps for early hot rodding has to be the early Cadillac OHV engines.

The 331 was first released in 1949 and was used in hot rods almost immediately. The first generation of engines are almost identical and a vast majority of the parts swap between.

Cadillac’s were known for making good power and torque stock and were quite smooth running engines. Speed equipment can be a little expensive, and hard to find at times.

One of the downsides to the engine is the lack of adjustable rockers, but you can use early aftermarket rockers or stock Studebaker rockers.

There are a lot of great articles written in the vintage magazines about swapping an early ford, and plenty of early hot rods and customs for photo reference. Let us know in the comment section below what Hot Rod Engine we should cover in the series next!