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Hot Rods Nostalgia D/A in the 1980s

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by olcurmdgeon, Jun 30, 2020 at 11:06 AM.

  1. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    Well I have officially become I geezer I guess because I like to reminisce over sixty years of building hot rods One of the race cars we built is still being raced, first by the late Gene Adams of MA and now by Dick Kiusalas of Cape Cod. Dick has been bugging me to make copies of the car being built and I finally got around to doing it and it brought back a lot of memories that made me smile. It was the 1980s and my best friend Dick LeClair and I were members of the Kustom Kings, one of the very first KKOA charter clubs. We live in So NH, short drive to New England Dragway. At that time the nostalgia drags were at Connecticut Dragway and hosted by the CSRA. Then that facility closed and the drags were moved to NH Dragway. Well hell, we ought to build a car. So we ordered an Anderson Fiberglas Fiat body, came in the biggest cardboard box I had ever seen. 20180101_000000_0001(1).JPG
     
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  2. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    This car was, except for the body, all swap meet material. Back in the 80s there was a wealth of stuff available at local swap meets. The rear end was a Highland Machine quickchange (Springfield, MA). It was cast iron but obviously copied from a Halibrand, even the back cover interchanged. A machinist friend of ours, Ralph Kozler, machined the the tapered Ford axles to the right length. We bought three of those quickies, all apart at a Thompson, CT swap meet. At the same meet we got front axle, P&S spindles and the 12 spokes for $150 total. Geez those were the days. 20180101_000000_0001(2).JPG 20180101_000000_0007.JPG The engine was a 3 3/8 by 4 8BA that we found on a rotissere style flathead stand in a barn in Claremont, NH. Lifter bores were broached for the special tappets, was built for circle track action but had never been run. Four two intake and old chrome carbs came from Amherst NH swap meet as did the heads. ALBRO flywheel, Chevy vertex machined to fit the flatmotor.
     
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  3. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    Chassis was 2x4 tubing, mig welded. Interesting we found a '55 Chevy 3spd, no tail shaft but had a bronze adaptor to allow the trans to be used in '49-54 Chevy cars with torque tubes. We found that would work for this car, using second and high only. How to join the flatmotor and trans together? Ingenuity and a swap meet Chevy lakewood scatter shield. Stand a bare block on end, center the scattershield to the crank center, redrill the scattershield flange to the block. Add an oilite pilot bearing in the flathead flywheel with an ID for the Chev trans and now we had both a trans adaptor and a real scattershield too. 20180101_000000_0002.JPG 20180101_000000_0001(3).JPG
     
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  4. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    Here is the car in its initial finery. And a picture of the "usual suspects". L to R, the late Ralph Kozler, Will Sullivan, Reggie Bernier, me, and Dick. This was New England Dragway. In those days, counting the Boston area cars, we could field seven flathead cars so we had our own eliminator class. RonnieRoadster was a big part of this, first with his altered roadster and then with his dragster.
    20180101_000000_0002(1).JPG 20180101_000000_0003.JPG
     
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  5. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    The next year we spruced the car up, Dick cut the nose of the car off so it was removable with Dzus fasteners. We painted the chassis white and the body black and the old master Dick Mills striped and lettered the car. And we ventured out to the World of Wheels in Boston where we won Best Engine and 2nd place in Comp Cars. 20180101_000000_0003(1).JPG 20180101_000000_0002(2).JPG 20180101_000000_0006.JPG
     
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  6. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 4,913

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Nice lookin'' car. Hot Rods came a long way from the '60's to the '80's. Here's what we were running in "D/A" on one of it's initial test runs through the neighborhood in 1961. 36 Ford DA.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020 at 11:55 AM
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  7. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    1988 found us in Englishtown, NJ for a nostalgia meet. The red roadster is RonnieRoadster, car made first pass at Connecticut Dragway when the facility opened, the dragster is Reg Berniers, the black roadster is Charlie Overholt from West Virginia. What great times!
    20180101_000000_0005.JPG 20180101_000000_0004.JPG
     
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  8. Great story. Thanks for posting.......Don.
     
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  9. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 4,913

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    We ran a best 16.44 ET with a basically stock '41 Merc with heads and a Weiand dual hi-rise; how much better than that did you guys do?
     
  10. Wow...awesome story, pics, and what a great memory...thanks for sharing
     
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  11. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,779

    Jalopy Joker
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  12. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    It was a 14 second car, sometimes dipping in to the 13's. Was a mongrel swap meet cam, first ran with a 4bbl then the four two's. Another great story was we had the sprint car center steering we found at Amherst NH swap meet. We built our own pillow blocks to mount it and the very first time we took the car to NED, it was on the back of Dick's old ramp truck. He was in the car during transit working on securing the steering gear in the pillow blocks. First pass was made by him, I always deffered that honor as he was a long time super modified driver in New England. Anyway thankfully he made a solo pass as he swapped lanes due to poor mounting of the steering. Pushing up the gear or pulling down had same effect as turning the wheel! Just one of the many stories we have.
    Coming back from Englishtown meet, car was on a single axle unsprung trailer. We stopped in Danbury, CT for lunch and when the car was cheekcd the damn thing was totally unconnected to the trailer. It had bounced itself free and was just sitting on the trailer deck. Only thing that averted disaster was that we had run 1/8 mile at the track like a lot of nostalgia back then and we had 6:38 gears in the quickie and the trans was in second gear so the car just sat there. Have to admit we were stunned, thinking of what could have happened on the interstate at 65mph. After that we bought wheel straps for the slicks and more holdown straps, instead of relying on winch cable and a rear strap. Car would pull 1/8 very nicely with the stump puller gear though.
     
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  13. John, I remember you and Dickie, and Reggie Bernier, too. You followed the Fiat with your dragster, which you also sold to Dick Kusalis, and he has since sold it to someone else not involved with nostalgia drag racing. Those were the good old days for us too. My 2 sons and I would go to New England Dragway for their 3 nostalgia meets per year. I miss that, too
     
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  14. cool read....thanks
     
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  15. catdad49
    Joined: Sep 25, 2005
    Posts: 4,078

    catdad49
    Member

    Great times and car. Love the way that you presented your story!
     
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  16. gonzo
    Joined: Dec 24, 2003
    Posts: 1,685

    gonzo
    Member

    Great story and pictures. Losing the Amherst swap meet was one of the biggest blows to the hobby in this area, hopefully the Epping meet will actually happen on the 26th.
     
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  17. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 4,897

    pitman
    Member
    from Hampsha

    Dick Mills, Reggie Bernier, two buds who've been thru a lot!
    1952-3, Reggie was ticketed in Portsmouth, yep, Speeding.
     
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  18. RidgeRunner
    Joined: Feb 9, 2007
    Posts: 845

    RidgeRunner
    Member
    from Western MA

    Great thread and pictures to help keep the traditional hot rod thinking and build processes alive and well! Thanks for putting it all together and posting.

    Ed
     
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  19. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    20180101_000000_0001(6).JPG 20180101_000000_0002(3).JPG So lets keep going down Memory Lane, this has been fun and fills my day. NED had three nostalgia events a year back then. They would allow flea market vendors to bring in race parts and sell in the pits. Never a huge turnout but on this day, a guy shows up after lunch with a dragster chassis on a trailer. He was a house painter from Hingham, MA. He painted a barn and ended up with this chassis as payment. 130"WB, cut down chromed early Ford spindles, Olds rear with MT mag center. Nice looking chassis. Dick and I immediately said, "we've never had a FED". Just like two kids in a candy store. So we bought it and sold the Fiat, less engine to Dennis Clifford.
     
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  20. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    My late wife Linda always chuckled having put up with me doing crazy things when she saw this photo of me "hallucinating" in the chassis.
    20180101_000000_0003(2).JPG
     
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  21. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    20180101_000000_0001(7).JPG 20180101_000000_0002(4).JPG So flash forward to the next season, JP Chassisworks in Portsmouth had narrowed a 9" for the car, we installed the flathead from the Fiat and were going racing. This is NED, Dick and I unloading the car in the first pic and me in the staging lanes with Jimmy Cushman, present honcho of the Kustom Kings. We never were able to figure out who built the chassis or when. The fact that it was 130", and had Ford spindles with a VW torsion bar front suspension leads me to believe early 60s before P and S spindles really were popular. What a nice chassis though, ran straight and true and I still remember my first pass, low 13s but what a rush! Again nostalgia fun on secondhand parts.
     
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  22. great story, so where is it now???...........................and yes we are still running em at Eagle Field........
     
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  23. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    So now we had a dragster, culmination of day dreams since I first picked up a "little book" at the United Cigar Store in Rhinebeck, NY about 1956 and began California Dreaming. Next thing that happened was learning a guy in CT had a '59 Chevy sedan delivery for sale. Car was a barrio hearse, had the coffin rollers and jump seat for the undertaker. Made one hell of a push car and won us Best Appearing Car and Crew at a meet. Dick Mills had lettered the car with DJs Louver Service and added that to the delivery sides too. We had a Good Times louver press and a side hobby doing louvers. Made for a trick combo. 20180101_000000_0001(8).JPG 20180101_000000_0002(5).JPG
     
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  24. John, those were good times.
     
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  25. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    I have always been a big fan of parachute back FEDs. Like Greer Black and Prudome for example. Well a good friend, Nickthebandit, here on the HAMB found this parachute back for us. Talk about meant to be? The tonneau cover snaps on the original aluminum body matched the holes in the fiberglass tail which slid over perfectly the aluminum body and bolted on!!! 20180101_000000_0001(9).JPG
     
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  26. John, didn't I buy the body from you at the
    Fitchburg, V-8 swap meet several years ago ?
     
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  27. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    We stepped up big time and ditched the carbs to go alcohol and Hilborns. Shopping prices it was best buy to get a new set right from Hilborn. I paid extra to have it flow benched. When we got it, we plumbed it and the damn car fired up and idled, right out of the box. Dick just shook his head, having long sessions with supermodifieds to get them just to start on hilborns. I always call this my "Austin Coil" pic, Dick in the cockpit and me priming the injectors with gasoline, having watched the ChiTown Hustler at NED and been duly impressed.
     
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  28. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    oh, forgot the pic, sorry 20180101_000000_0004(1).JPG
     
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  29. olcurmdgeon
    Joined: Dec 15, 2007
    Posts: 2,015

    olcurmdgeon
    Member

    Cowl artwork by Dick Mills
    20180101_000000_0003(3).JPG
     
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