Monday, September 6, 2010

#31- Reviving The Dead Hot Rod - part 2

Picking up from last week… the little ’34 Ford coupe is sitting in our backyard in Memphis, and has been for 9 years. It was my junior year in high school and the 1st Street Rod Nationals, for cars built in 1948 or earlier, had been held in Peoria, IL in 1970. I read all about it Rod & Custom magazine, but of course, I wasn’t there…Well, lo & behold, in 1971 the 2nd Street Rod Nationals came to the bluff city. I drove down to Highland Ave at night and all those Hot Rods and beautiful cars in the street lights was a sight to see. I was in ‘car nut’ heaven!

So, I’m hanging out checking out all those hot rods and thinking “Wow, I wish I had a car like these…HOLD IT!...There’s one of them in our back yard!!!” So, over the next few weeks, I talked my dad into footing the bills and me doing the labor to fix up the old ’34 and he agreed.

The first thing we did was get the car ready for the engine and believe it or not, when we went to my dad’s friend’s garage, the fresh 1936 motor was still there in it’s plastic bag. We towed the car up there and used his engine hoist to put the motor back in the car. Over the next few weeks, we got the motor running - fall of 1971.

That turned out to be the easy part. Mechanically, I am a wiz, but I found out real quick that body work is not my strong suit. I just don’t have the ‘touch’. I can lay down paint with the best of them, but don’t ask me to smooth out a body panel…even now, when people see the car, I tell them “If the body work looks like a 16 year old kid did it…it was me”. Over the course of the next 2 years, I disassembled the car, right down to the point of removing the body from the frame. We didn’t do that because we had no garage to store it in. But we had the fenders off and sanded everything down to bare metal so that we could put lacquer paint back on it.

By the summer of 1973, we had painted the car black & yellow and we had figured out that the distributor coil was bad. It would run fine until the coil got hot and then it would leave you stranded until it cooled down.

Next week, we’ll finish up the story of the Hot Rod.

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