Discounting The Consensus
The past few months have been pretty shitty here at The Jalopy Journal World Headquarters. I’ve been recovering from surgery, dealing with the death of a pal, and have just been generally beat down by the trials and tribulations of every day life.
Get up. Get knocked down. Repeat.
Of course, I live a pretty charmed life and complaining about the ordinary roller coaster of it is of negligible propriety. Even the most fortuitous of us suffer through relative bad times I suppose… My point is not to complain, but to set the tone for my mood when John Helmuth sent over shots from his latest photoshoot. Within, were images of Nick Maneri’s ’31 roadster. It’s black. It has red wheels. It has white walls. It has a red interior. It is as standard as standard gets when it comes to traditional hot rods. To put it bluntly, you wouldn’t think such orthodox conservatism would be enough to pull me from the depths of… well… from the depths of wherever I’ve been.
Cuz the thing is, cars that share the same tech sheet as Nick’s are a dime a dozen. Literally. Go to any show in the country and if a traditional hot rod is in attendance, you are probably gonna see a black roadster with whitewalls and red wheels and a red interior and maybe even a flathead Ford to move it all. It’s the look that started this whole mess of ours and it’s a look that has become cliche to a degree. There is no getting around that.
But you can ignore it. It’s the one thing I’ve always been good at – discounting the consensus, thinking within and on my own terms, and coming up with conclusions based just and only on what my mind calculates. For some reason, I did that the instant I saw shots of Nick’s roadster. It was as if years of studying hot rods and dealing with all of you damned hoodlums vanished and I was left with a car as classic as a hot rod could be. So classic that it has become a familiar tune to even those that don’t listen to the same station as us or even the radio for that matter.
There’s a reason there are so many black roadsters out there with red wheels and whitewalls. And Nick’s roadster is that reason. Salvador Dali once said something along the lines of, “Have no fear of perfection – for you will never reach it.”
Screw that squirrelly old bastard. He didn’t live long enough to see a functional machine built to lift skirts and drop flags and he certainly never laid eyes on the perfect little black roadster. So, what does he know? Further, where does this consensus regarding black roadsters come from in the first place? It comes from the mean average of a group of people that have various levels of interest and knowledge in the matter of traditional hot rodding. You can bet your ass that if this consensus was limited to only the few at the top of the curve, there be no ridicule of the perfect black roadster – only praise and admiration.
It’s a matter of perspective really. I’ve been rolling around with the blues lately simply because I’ve grown a bit bored with the ordinary shit that everyone has to deal with on a day-to-day basis. For some reason, I’ve expected more than that. I’ve expected more speed, more danger, more adventure… and less ordinary kicks to the balls. It took an “ordinary” roadster to shift my perspective and recognize perfection for what it is – or what it can be anyway.
Perspective, I’m beginning to think, is the key to life.
In any case, the normal thing to do now is to delete that literary mess above and start over with the basic mechanicals of Nick’s roadster – maybe sprinkle in some clever bullshit about cliches here and there while I’m at it. But, I’m not going to do that this time. I sort of like this new perspective from over here inside my brain and frankly, I’ve never given a shit about the consensus. From the looks of things, Nick doesn’t either… So, I don’t think he’ll mind.
The Nick Maneri Roadster
H.A.M.B. Username: Automotive Stud
Engine: 1941 Ford Truck 239
Mods: Bored .040 over, Isky 88 cam, Weber aluminum flywheel, Eddie Meyer heads and intake, Stromberg 97 carbs
Assembled by: Nick and his old man
Tranny: 1950 Merc three on the tree
Rear: 1940 Ford rear with Culver City Halibrand center section
Wheels: 1948 Mercury 15-inchers all the way around
Tires: 5.60 Stones up front and 8.20’s out back – beautified by ’48 caps and shoebox rings
Front Suspension: Chromed moredrop axle, chromed and split ’32 wishbone, shortened F1 shock mounts
Rear Suspension: 1946 Ford radius rods, model-a spring, 1940 Ford spring mounts, tube shocks
Brakes: 1946 Ford backing plates all the way around, finned Buick drums up front
Body: Original 1931 Ford Deluxe Roadster
Mods: Chopped 3-inches, rumble seat converted to trunk, ’32 cowl vent, peaked ’32 grille shell, modified rear wheel wells to fit against ’32 frame
Body work by: Nick Maneri and his pal, Josh
Paint work by: Nick’s buddy Josh
Interior: Seat and door panels came out of a local hot rodder’s stash
Gauges: Stewart Warner accessories, Sun Football tach?
Steering Wheel: 1947 Ford on a chromed ’56 F100 column
Misc: 1949 Ford hand brake, 1935 Ford cowl vent handle reutilized as a shift knob
Special Thanks to: John Helmuth for shooting the car and Nick Maneri for letting us feature it.
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