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The Tamale Wagon

Discussion in 'Off Topic Hot Rods & Customs' started by BigJoeArt, May 7, 2024.

  1. BigJoeArt
    Joined: Dec 12, 2011
    Posts: 548

    BigJoeArt
    Member

    I'm glad to have a place to share the story of this thing finally.
    This car is very special to a couple people, but mostly me.

    I've driven this car more than anyone else ever has since it was built, and probably had more fun in it too.

    But to get to that we have to start at the beginning.

    Lets turn the time clock back to 1972
    the 1st street rod nationals had just happened, and Model T's are Hot.

    Bill West was working on a project, a 1/2 scale VW powered model T panel. He had the body, chassis, and drivetrain put together when he got a new copy of Rod&Custom, and lo and behold there was Jim Babb's It-T-Bits Subaru powered mini T.

    Upon seeing a car, that to Bill seemed too similar to his own, he lost interest in the project. It eventually was sold (still unfinished) to Les Jarvis, who at the time was the was the "Circulation Director" at Street Rodder (And sister magazine Truckin '). Les convinced Bill to work on finishing the car. and that leads us to the first (that I know of) appearance in a Magazine.

    In the February 1975 issue of Street Rodder, in an Editorial written by Jim Clark, about Les Jarvis' very diverse Stable of hot rods.

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    But then we step back in time a little bit for the second appearance in Street Rodder.
    In the March 1975 issue Pat Ganahl writes about what it takes to build a set of fenders from scratch.

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    In the beginning of this article you can see the earliest picture of this car, Presumably as Bill sold it, with a full of actual AC Cobra wheels, that were off of a cobra that was wrecked locally.

    This picture is from Pat Ganahl's collection, presumably taken the same day as the above photo in the article.

    [​IMG]

    But by the time we get to the end of the article, we see it with the American Racing 12 spoke Magnesium wheels (the same ones that are on it today) looking much more like it was when finished.


    The first show for the "Finished" car was documented in the November 1975 issue of TRUCKIN' magazine.

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    The article tells the eventful story of Les Jarvis, and Robert K Smith (editor for Truckin) in their journey, towing the T on a trailer (behind a 1975 Buick of all things) to Bowling green KY where the 3rd annual truck nats were happening.

    It also notes that the car was not finished, and they got it running once arriving in Kentucky.

    In the issue of Street Rodder from the same month was the article on the Street Rod Nationals #5, hosted in Memphis, TN.

    The street rod nats happened one week after the truck nats, and so they stuck around the east side of the country to attend it as well.

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    It garnered a bit of attention in Memphis, and @Nick32vic found this image on a Fotki photo album from the show.

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    It also caught the eye of the "competition" aka tom medley from Peterson publishing, who took this photo, excluding any and all advertisements.

    [​IMG]


    Later in the November issue of street rodder, Pat Ganahl wrote an article about building a seat. and wouldn't you know, its a seat for a certain little panel truck!

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    You can see the partially disassembled T in the background, so I'm guessing this was part of the thrash to finish the car before the trip to bowling green.

    The next time the T makes an appearance, is in the April 1976 issue of street rodder, At a 'local show' in Anaheim, CA that the TRM publishing crew turned out big for!

    they brought 5 street rods, 2 bikes, and 2 trucks, all built by staffers.
    right out front is the T, proudly displaying the logos of Truckin' and Street rodder.

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    On the bottom of that page we see a young Pat Ganahl, polishing his 32 Chevy, and again in the table of contents page, we see him polishing on it, with a familiar panel in the background.

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    Again in the same month, but in Truckin', it had the T's first full feature!

    This is also the first mention of the T having a new owner, Gordon Swearingen.

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    (I actually found this article, while re-sourcing photos for this thread)

    Then in August of 1977 the little T gets its day in the sun.

    The cover of Hot VW's.

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    It was not only on the cover, but on the contents page,

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    A Three page spread,

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    And A For Sale ad in the back!

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    This article is a hot mess of wrong info, The frame was not built by Pete&Jakes, as I was able to get ahold of Jim Jacobs and confirm. (it is also 2.5 x 1.5 not 2x2) Among other things it also states that the steering box is out of a Mustang, but its from a fiat.

    Regardless, it was its moment of fame.

    After this, it really drops off the radar.
    Years ago I talked to a Guy that remembered seeing it drive around (and almost bought it) while he was in high school, but other than that, nothing.

    This is when my Friend, Mike comes in.

    Mike moved here to NW Missouri after living in CA for his whole life. He had actually he had built a VW powered Rod in his past, and generally likes weird stuff. This led his friend Rick, who was visiting from CA, to tell him about the little panel truck he had seen back home.

    Rick got Mike a number for the guy who owned the panel, and Mike started calling.
    Finally after a few calls, He got told, if you want it, come and get it, before I sell it to someone else.
    So Mike and a buddy made a flash trip to CA to pick up the Panel, and he stopped on the way back at one of his favorite places to get tamales. (how its moniker was born)

    At the time I am a 14 year old , who loved VWs and Hot Rods. I grew up with a Dad who
    had custom trucks and old cars all the time, so I knew everyone in our local car scene.

    Like many towns we have a local Car Cruise on Friday nights during the summer.
    We didn't always bring a car, but we usually went by to talk to our friends.
    One particular night we drove to the cruise and I spotted this... thing... on a trailer, sitting high above the other cars in the lot. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I knew it was cool!

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    It bridged the gap for me between hot rods and VWs, both things I was into, and boy was I excited. I walked around it a bunch of times, and I talked to Mike, who was just returning from his trip to CA, and hadn't even taken it off the trailer yet. He let me sit in it, and I loved it.

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    Little did I know, I would one day own this.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2024
  2. Bdamfino
    Joined: Jan 27, 2006
    Posts: 620

    Bdamfino
    Member
    from Hamlet, NC

    Didn't Ganahl write about it on his Rod and Custom blog?! I have every issue BUT the Truckin' feature.....love these Volksrods!
     
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  3. nrgwizard
    Joined: Aug 18, 2006
    Posts: 2,668

    nrgwizard
    Member
    from Minn. uSA

    I've got most of those old articles, but thanks for putting this together in 1 place. :) .
    Yup, love me some VolksRods, since at least ~'67.
    Marcus...
     
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  4. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 17,470

    Tim
    Member
    from KCMO

    sure did
     
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  5. BigJoeArt
    Joined: Dec 12, 2011
    Posts: 548

    BigJoeArt
    Member

    Yes he did, Here: "The Mysterious Mini T"

    no problem! its been fun digging back into the history to write it all down.

    I started a thread (that got locked) about 5 years ago, but even then I hadn't found some of the stuff that I shared here.
     
    TrailerTrashToo, A Boner and Sancho like this.
  6. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 5,120

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    There's something really appealing about this. It reminds me of the series of Corvair-powered Renault(?) showrod kits Revell did in the '70s.
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  7. This thread makes the new OT forum completely worth it. I really looked over the Tamale wagon at The ROC, even talked VWs with you. Super cool car, but the history.. wow, off the charts! Seriously, thank you so much for posting this.
     
  8. SS327
    Joined: Sep 11, 2017
    Posts: 2,770

    SS327

    As a kid I built the T-Bone Steak. Cool kit!
     
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  9. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 5,120

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    I built the Meter Cheater. I must have been 11 or 12.
     
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  10. porkshop
    Joined: Jan 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,749

    porkshop
    Member
    from Clovis Ca

    I thought about building something similar years ago as I had a TT closed truck cab and a wrecked 63 Cal Bug with a 1835 engine. The plane was to make the cab into a panel, and the rest as this one is. The TT cab would have had a least a little more room. Now this has me searching Fordbarn for a cab again....
     
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  11. BigJoeArt
    Joined: Dec 12, 2011
    Posts: 548

    BigJoeArt
    Member

    chapter two, or "the period mike owned my car"

    Once Mike got the T back home, he stuck it in his little shop and started tinkering on it.

    It was pretty much as the articles showed it, other than a respray in lacquer, blue with black fenders, and a recover of the original upholstery.

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    It had an motor in it, but it was junk, so Mike had our buddy Pat build him a simple stock style 1600.

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    Mike did a bunch of stuff to make the car nicer, cleaning the interior, and making a top and having it covered.

    he also added a empi rear disc brake setup, that made it actually stop.

    during this, we found out where the weight balance of the car is, somewhat unintentionally, because mike jacked it up in the rear, then installed jacks under the torsion housing, but when he let it down, the rear went down and the front of the car raised!

    so right in front of the rear axle is about the center of the car, weight wise.
    (for reference, the car weighs 1350 pounds, and only 440 is on the front wheels.)

    After he got it put back together, Mike took it to some local shows, here it is at our local VW show.
    [​IMG]

    (the bug is my high school car, maybe it will get a thread one day.)

    he also took it to out to the vw classic in pomona, in 2012, which I have no pictures of, but people took note, as the photo caption on this image from Ultra VW proves, in the June 2014 issue.

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    the only drawback to driving it around was... It drove terrible. It had a wandering problem and was super stiff and unpredictable.

    So after tinkering with it awhile, Mike decided rather than rebuild the car and change it, it would be better to build a new car.

    So he built a T-bucket in the vein of the dragmaster and fuller cars.

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    It weighted right at 1000 pounds, and boy did it scoot.

    he actually used the front wheels from the wagon to mock up the T bucket initially.

    In the meantime I have built and rebuilt my Bug, and started to show a liking to the wagon, to the point a started a very similar project.
    So when Mike and I were driving down to KC one day and he asked me out of the blue if I wanted to own the tamale wagon, I quickly said YES!

    So I went out to his shop to look it over and help him move it, bolting on a set of rollers to get it moved to his storage container, where he had agreed to store it till I had room to take it home.

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    A couple years go by, with me visiting it, usually to steal a part to keep my bug running.
    one of those trips I took this photo of the interior.

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    I got married, started working full time, and began to build a house.

    As soon as I got garage doors hung in the house I started preparing to bring it home.

    We went out on a warmish Saturday in October 2017, and retrieved it.

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    after moving Mike's other VW powered panel out of the way, we got it out and ready to load.

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    Next stop, its new home.

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    after a little shuffling and figuring out where it was gonna sit, I tucked it in for the winter as I finished up the house.

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    Join us next time, for part three, learning to drive.
     
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  12. porkshop
    Joined: Jan 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,749

    porkshop
    Member
    from Clovis Ca

    I would like to see pictures of the similar project you started before buying this and more pictures of Mikes other panel when you have time. Thanks.....
     
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  13. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 5,120

    Ned Ludd
    Member

    Those fenders are surprisingly cool!

    Similar were thought the height of rakishness in the early '20s, as on these Dagmars:
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    They were known as "military fenders". I've long thought they could work on the right kind of hot rod.
     
  14. redroaddog
    Joined: Apr 1, 2011
    Posts: 357

    redroaddog
    Member

    Great story! Thanks for posting
     
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  15. Phillips
    Joined: Oct 26, 2010
    Posts: 1,540

    Phillips
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    @BigJoeArt I was hoping you'd post about this. Man between this and that V-Bucket your friend Mike built I'm seeing clearly how a V-rod would scratch several itches!
     
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  16. Dang now you got me thinking about a V-Rod… hmmmm
     
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  17. nrgwizard
    Joined: Aug 18, 2006
    Posts: 2,668

    nrgwizard
    Member
    from Minn. uSA

    Hahhahahahahaaaaaa... Got bit, did you!!!??? :D, :D, ;D ...
    Good on you.
    Nice thing is, women & kids love the things(usually), streetrodders(except the very few who know what they're looking at) hate seeing acvw driveline in a "ford" body - & it's usually 'glass, so WTF - really???, & the acvw guys(except the very few who know what they're looking at) hate them 'cause it's not all acvw/volkswagon. :D . So just where, exactly, can you go to piss off so many folks at once, with so little effort, at such a low cost, & have so much fun(perma-grin on your face). ???
    & today, literally stupid amounts of power, reliability, & even fuel economy, can be built into the little acvw mill - if you want even w/o a single genuine vw part. Not as cheap as in the past, but nothing else is, either.
    Go for it - I *dare* you... !!! :D .
    Marcus...
     
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  18. A Boner
    Joined: Dec 25, 2004
    Posts: 7,557

    A Boner
    Member

    Would really like to see a build thread on this Volksrod! The more detailed pics the better.
    A36B571A-1D97-41E3-898F-6EFD4DE6BED3.jpeg
     

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