Polished to Perfection
Last night, I stood at my workbench with a drill in hand. It was dark, and the only light in my garage came from a pair of LED shop lights (no electricity in my current space). I was done with work for the day, and I was excited to make some progress on a side project of mine that involved a small aluminum bracket. I started by clamping the bracket in the vice and pulling out my multi-stage polishing kit.
One by one, I worked my way through the various compounds. First the brown, the then the gray. WHRRRRRRVMMMM. WHRRRRRRVMMMM. Next came blue. WHRRRRVMMMMM and then finally white. Specks of compound shot in every direction, the soft white wheel darkening with each rotation. As I worked, the metal changed. I slid my safety glasses down my nose, squinting to take a better look. Is that my reflection? Is this actually working? WHRRRRVMMMM went the wheel. Hmmmmm said I. Then, in the middle of the second side, the drill faltered and abruptly stopped. Dead battery. Out came the backup. WHRRRRRMMMMM. WHRRRRVMMM
In a perfect world, I wouldn’t be polishing aluminum with low-buck compound and a cordless drill in a garage without power. But it’s something I wanted to do, and those were the tools I had. It was simple. It was therapeutic, and I enjoyed every second of it.
On the most basic level, that’s what being a hot rodder is all about. And like the old saying goes, any job worth doing is worth doing right. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting with a cherry Deuce three-window or a rusted-out four-door, it’s the workmanship that counts at the end of the day. If it’s traditional, there are endless opportunities to do good work.
Today’s feature car is a prime example of how impeccable detailing can make a machine stand out. Earlier this week we zeroed in on an earlier style T, so let’s wind this one down with something a little later. When jeweler Larry Schuber set out to build his T roadster, he kept things simple: rectangular tube frame, suicide front axle and Chevy rear, although he did opt for quarter-elliptic springs. For power, he looked to a smallblock Chevy that was bored to 301cid. Finned valve covers and over-the-frame headers added shine, while a Joe Hunt mag provided spark. You’ll soon see that he was constantly changing induction setups, which included—but were not limited to—a single AFB, dual AFB’s or a single Holley atop a GMC 4-71 with a Cragar drive. The ’23 T body came from Cal Automotive, and Larry carved out the passenger-side door to make it functional. All solid stuff, right?
With its chrome-reverse wheels and resplendent red paint, the car certainly nailed the mid-’60s look. But beyond the bright color, there are the little details. The closer you look, the more you see. There’s the brass radiator, the mahogany firewall, the button-tuft Joe Perez interior and the subtle gold pinstriping on the front of the frame. Every wire, hose and accessory has its place. It’s a carefully planned hot rod that, for my money, scores 10/10 on execution. And as I look at the pieces like the single lantern taillamp, tailgate hinges and custom trailer hitch, I wonder if he too polished them in his home garage one day after work. I can only hope so.
Color Photos by Bob Wagner, Hot Rod Magazine, December 1965
Hold the phone! As I was writing this, I realized I had another old magazine sitting on the table in front of me. It was the August ’65 issue of Popular Hot Rodding that, lo and behold, had Larry’s car on the cover. What are the chances of that?