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History Specials

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ned Ludd, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    I've had occasion to post about specials on a number of threads, so here's another get-it-all-together-in-one-place thread.

    The special phenomenon covered the entire "traditional" era, from the golden age of Brooklands until the '60s, when suitable separate chassis frames ceased to be plentiful and cheap. Specials were built all over the world, including the USA, but were nowhere more popular than in the UK. The idea was to build a sports or competition car out of the parts of something stodgier, with a certain amount of new material added.

    Making a body is a fundamental part of building a special. With a hot rod, one keeps the body, but might replace almost everything else. Hence we speak of a "'29 on Deuce rails," not a "Deuce with a '29 body on it." With a special, one keeps the chassis and drive train, possibly with fairly radical modifications, and builds one's own lightweight body on it.

    Specials have been built to a wide variety of performance profiles, from all-round sports specials to trials specials to road-racing specials. Today the emphasis seems to be on the racers, perhaps because they were the most dramatic, to my mind to the detriment of other types.

    Here follow my gleanings, in no particular order. I have no doubt that there will initially be quite glaring omissions, a state that I trust will be corrected in short order:

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    Last edited: Jul 27, 2012
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  2. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
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  3. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 40,356

    porknbeaner
    Member

    Nedd
    I glanced at this one and my brain said man what a big exhaust. :D

    [​IMG]

    Pretty cool little runabouts. I wonder if you could find one intact today. I have always wanted a sports car.
     
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  4. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
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  5. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
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  6. speaking of specials, gotta love that Lark with the tilt front. Now thats special.
     
  7. MATACONCEPTS
    Joined: Aug 7, 2009
    Posts: 2,069

    MATACONCEPTS
    BANNED

    "A message to you Rudy" thats one of my favorites!!!
     

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  8. adamshumard
    Joined: Jan 18, 2007
    Posts: 1,380

    adamshumard
    Member

    Uh Oh!!!! I think I just fell into a whole bucket of inspiration. I've really been wanting an open car. Now I know what kind for sure. I love the Pratts car.
     
  9. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,719

    tfeverfred
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    Man, those look like a ton of fun.
     
  10. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
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    It serves all of 747cc.
     
  11. Gromit
    Joined: Oct 13, 2011
    Posts: 726

    Gromit
    Member


    Lol.. I was thinking the same.. though "Gangsters" is more of a driving tune for me...

    "don't call me Scarface..."


    Otherwise back on T...

    Excellent thread. I (as you may recall) have a passion for these. In fact I just missed ut on a nice Chassis... oh well.
     
  12. volvobrynk
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,588

    volvobrynk
    Member
    from Denmark

    Does anybody know The Al Hoyt Special?

    http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2009/12/30/hemmings-find-of-the-day-the-hoyt-special/

    I saw it the first time In a english car magasin. Quiet cool IMO, being that Volvo is the most popular brand for rodding/customs In Denmark, so an American built Volvo-bases special rocks my boat!
    Denmark dident start doing hot rods until early 80's, before that it was mostly hardcore engine builts In European cars. If any changes at all.
     
    CowboyTed likes this.
  13. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
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    That's a Dellow in front of it, a sort of semi-productionized, semi-kit-car special based on British Ford components and really aimed at the sport of trials. That is where one climbs a hill through a forest in the rain, and tries not to get stuck or slide down again. Here are a few trials specials:

    [​IMG]
    This one is based on a Jowett Bradford van and lives in my town. I've actually met it in traffic once or twice: tiny but perfectly formed.

    [​IMG]
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  14. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    [​IMG]

    That goes to show how big a splash the Lotus 6 and 7 made. They, of course, developed out of Colin Chapman's Austin Seven special.

    Another car that made a big impression was Ferrari's Barchetta. For a while it was not that far-fetched to find Barchetta-looking pontoon bodies on "thin-fendered" chassis like Austin Sevens, Ford Tens, and pre-war MG Midgets. I've been trying to think of image search terms, as the obvious ones don't produce anything useful.
     
  15. BeatnikPirate
    Joined: May 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,414

    BeatnikPirate
    Member
    from Media, Pa.

    Interesting thread, Dawie. Thanks for sharing the information and pictures.
    It seems that cut down doors, double hump cowls, Brooklands style windscreens, and rear mounted spares were common styling elements on these specials. I've always liked those features and I wonder why they never became very common on American hotrods....maybe they did on some speedsters....
     
  16. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
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    The special builder had a free hand with bodywork, limited only by fabricating skills, where the hot-rodder was always constrained by having to modify an existing body.

    Specials were very close in concept to American speedsters. While it could be said that the hot rod had by 1950 effectively displaced the speedster, the special kept on following its own development path for another fifteen years or so. It might be said that specials give a good clue to what speedsters might have become in the absence of a ready supply of light Ford roadster and coupe bodies - and competitive sanctioning structures that encouraged their use.
     
  17. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,499

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    That'll keep your tootsies toasty too.:p
     
  18. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,499

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    Mine too! My daughter loves sixties ska.
     
  19. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    Some (apparently) German specials:
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    Some pontoon-bodied "Barchetti":
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    Austin Sevens

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    MGs

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    Fords, mainly, though many of these early grp bodies could easily be adapted to Austin or other chassis.

    All this feeds into an idea I've had brewing for a while: a liberally hacked-about Cobra kit-car body on a traditional '32 Ford hot rod chassis, as a sort of traditional hot rod/late special crossover.
     
  20. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,499

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    Mmmmm. The Flying Shingle. What a pretty little car...
     
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  21. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,499

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    Dont think this ones a special per-se, think its a Ginetta. Could be wrong...
    [​IMG]
     
  22. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    Anatomy of a trials special: early Cannon special
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    Cotton specials:
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    Unidentified Ford special:
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    Typical trials special, as it had evolved by 1960:
    [​IMG]

    Looks like fun:
    [​IMG]
    I've recently thought that my idea of the perfect motor sport would combine a drag race, a hillclimb, and a trial - not least in the sense that that might produce the most appealing machinery.

    All and more to be found at http://www.hsta.co.uk/index.html
     
  23. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    Indeed a lot of the early pontoon-bodied specials freely traversed the boundaries between pure specials, kit cars, and small-volume production cars. Like Lotus, Ginetta developed out of these sorts of exercises; the point where a definitive design crystallised being sometimes hard to ascertain.

    The very first Ginettas grew out of specials based on the little pre-war Wolseley Hornet:
    [​IMG]
    (... which is not quite the same as a Wolseley Hornet Special, as that was a sort of BMW Z3 for the hairdressers of the '30s.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  24. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 3,717

    Ned Ludd
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  25. DrJ
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 9,422

    DrJ
    Member

    You brought up a good point about fat & Skinny as opposed to big & littles.
    The original purpose of "bigs" was to get some more rubber on the road but also to functionally lower the rear end ratio for higher top end speed at the same RPM.
    (And the rake was so you didn't need to jack up the rear of the car to reach the quick change to change from higher ratio highway gears to get over the mountain to the high desert to smaller ratio dry lake gears.)
    The skinny and wide was/is for better traction on the rear end at a lower or the same included tire radius ratio.
     
  26. BCCHOPIT
    Joined: Aug 10, 2008
    Posts: 2,585

    BCCHOPIT
    Member

    This has to be the coolest thing I have seen on the HAMB and there is a lot of cool shit here.
    Thanks for posting
    Bill


     
  27. boldventure
    Joined: Mar 7, 2008
    Posts: 1,766

    boldventure
    Member

    Thanks for the topic! I really admire the specials! Love it when inspiration yields a car that is loud, fast, quick and quirky; quirky is cool!
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  28. dmulally
    Joined: Jul 14, 2010
    Posts: 34

    dmulally
    Member

    A mate and I are building a special. Waiting for the uni to arrive in the post for the steering column so I can sit right in front of the diff and take it for a spin. Having the tail shaft cut and shut will be the most expensive thing done to it. Very cheap all up.

    [​IMG]
     
  29. boldventure
    Joined: Mar 7, 2008
    Posts: 1,766

    boldventure
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  30. DrJ
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 9,422

    DrJ
    Member

    Note the underslung rear end, doing away with the needless
    urge to "Z" the rear end of the frame!
     
    rmcroadster likes this.

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