Archive for the ‘Real Hot Rods’ Category

Dear readers,

A longtime follower of “Cool McCool’s Garage” recently posted a comment here, which consisted solely of a link to her Craigslist ad for her vintage trailer.

I am all for entrepreneurship, free enterprise, the American way, and flattered that this person believes our blog is widely read enough to help sell her trailer, but…

My blog is my “Happy Place”, not a place to link ads, post stuff for sale, or try make a buck. If it were, I would be doing it.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled nonsense….

Oh, the humanity. New Years eve, or rather, early New Years morning we were stricken with the dreaded Noro-virus, the 24 hour bug, or in the common vernacular, the pukes. We’ll spare you the details, but the acute misery lasted from about 3 am until 3 in the afternoon. After that, some clear liquids finally stayed put, and late in the evening, a cup of soup tasted pretty good.

Called in to work the next day as well and kept a pretty low profile, and even today, we are not completely “normal”, whatever that is. Once the outside temp got above zero though, a fire was stoked up in the Cool McCool’s Garage shop, and the T’bird got some love. The front bumper is now delightfully devoid of any turn signal/park light holes, and looks great.

Look Ma! No holes!

Look Ma! No holes!

Smooth as a baby's bottom now.

Smooth as a baby’s bottom now.

While the shop was warming up, the old GMC started right up and we got the driveway plowed out. By the time that was finished, it was a balmy 50 degrees inside, MUCH better than the outside temp of 13. Brrrr.

Does that puff of white smoke mean we have a new Pope, or is the shop getting warm?

Does that puff of white smoke mean we have a new Pope, or is the shop getting warm?

Path to the Tini-Home garage.

Path to the Tini-Home garage.

Cool McCool's World Headquarters.

Cool McCool’s World Headquarters.

Down the driveway to Milo Road.

Down the driveway to Milo Road.

The might '76 GMC.  Just rolled over 20K miles.  Nicely broken in.  2wd with chains.  Who needs 4wd?

The might ’76 GMC. Just rolled over 20K miles. Nicely broken in. 2wd with chains. Who needs 4wd?

Tomorrow we’re supposed to get a little break in the weather with a high near 30, then back into the deep freeze next week with single digit temps for highs. We may have to open a southern branch office…

A friend of ours in Las Vegas emailed the other day to ask if I’d seen the ’36 was listed on eBay again.  I didn’t, so I followed the link he sent to the ad.Sg_800

It’s listed by an  exotic car dealership in KY, for the staggering price of $44,900.  I’m not sure if a guy browsing a showroom of Lambo’s is going to be attracted to my chopped down old Ford, but good luck to them.  The car looks the same as it did, with the exception of a cheesy “street-rod-y” Dolphin tach in the dash waterfall (that doesn’t go with any of the rest of the dash) and the addition of LOTS of over-wrought  pinstriping.  I have to say that the wheels do look better, with the center spiders and striping, but the rest of it is a little overdone.  It’s supposed to be simple.

The sparse description, mostly “Runs and Drives GREAT”, while maybe not an outright lie, is wildly optimistic at best.  It DOES look stunning, and it runs like scalded cat, but “…Drives GREAT!”, uh, no.

More apt would be, “This car could KILL you in a heartbeat!”, but, why spoil their fun?

But, it’s not mine any more, so what do I know.

My friend Bill McGuire, who was responsible for it getting published in Hot Rod, offered that the extra embellishments just distract from the car, and that it was “complete”, as I’d built it.

Thanks Bill.

I’d add that while it’d have been nice to have gotten more for when I sold it, my feeling is that whoever buys it, for whatever amount, isn’t going to enjoy it as much as I did.  Either in planning, building, or driving it.  The statement that the car makes, and I humbly submit it’s a car that NO ONE has ever done anything like before, will be an influence in the Hot Rodding scene for years to come.  Buying it isn’t the same as building it.

I had a great time with the car, I tripled my money on it, got a little notoriety with it, and let it move on.  It’s a Win/Win, as far as I can see.

And like my buddy John said,  “Brian, that’s always going to be YOUR car.”

True that, John.

DSC04404 (1024x768)In life, be it in art, work, or leisure, we all have to have a source of inspiration and influence.  We need exposure to someone, or something, that drives us to take the  next step, to better ourselves, to increase our skill, our knowledge, and expand our limits.  I’m fortunate, perhaps even blessed, to have friends who inspire me, who have vision, who have talent, who give me drive to see beyond my own frame of reference, and step out of my comfort zone.

I’m also fortunate that those people are willing to lend me their time, and their tools, to bail me out of jams when I box myself into a corner! 

One of those people is my good friend, Kirk Brown, of  “Crafty B Nostalgic Speed”.  Kirk’s shop is just a half an hour from me, and every Friday he has an open house, where hot rodders, car guys, and the occasional curious by-passer can stop, check out the latest project, have coffee and cookies, and draw inspiration from each other, and what Kirk is doing.

This past Friday, I went up with 16 lug nuts for my Diamond T project, that I hoped Kirk could help me re-drill and re-tap to fit the wheel studs on the Dana axle.  I could have taken the axle out, gotten new studs, but I had the correct (for the Dodge wheels I’m using) lug nuts, and it looked to me like I could make it work with the right drill and a 5/8×18 tap. 

We made magic, and metal shavings happen, and I got to use a REAL drill press, wear a machinists apron, and for a few minutes, feel like I knew what I was doing.

Best of all, I got to check out the progress on Kirk’s latest project, a ’32 Ford Roadster, a former 60’s drag strip veteran he salvaged, and added his own “Crafty B” touch to. 

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A cast aluminum grill shell, tilting side hood louvers, cowl steering, cast dash, licence plate holder, exhaust port, shifter, headlights, tailights, shocks, radius bar mounts, trademark gas filler and more, all from Kirk’s catalogue of hand crafted, sand casted, parts.

Add other innovative features like raised wheel openings, a totally re-worked deck lid, smoothed cowl, and one-off, Hallock style windshield, and you’ve got a ’32 Ford that’ll be like no other one out there.   

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In this day and age, it’s REALLY hard to come up with something that’s different, that’s already been thousands of times before.  This build should stand out from a sea of ’32 Ford Hot Rods as something just different enough to get noticed, but not stray off into “cartoon” category. 


And, if that, or the ’32 3 window also under construction, or the ’57 Stude wagon getting four-wheel disc brakes, and bagged, wasn’t enough to get imaginations going, how about a ’51 Ford F-6 heavy-duty truck?

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Trucks aren’t Hot Rods, you say?  How about if they’re chopped, bagged,  fitted with a monster big block Ford engine, and all riding on a cantilevered suspension that’s also Kirk’s design? 

This thing is innovative, provocative, and will surely assault the sense and sensibilities of Hot Rodders wherever it’s seen.  And it will be seen, as it’s planned use is as a tow vehicle for its owners trailer.  It’ll be bed-less, fitted with a 5th wheel to show off the deeply dropped frame and suspension arms. 

So, it’s back to reality, and my own dingy, cramped, clutter shop to get my own stuff done.  I do that though with the knowledge that I CAN do whatever I can imagine, with a little help, inspiration, and support from my friends!

DSC04161 (1024x768)Continuing our trend of visiting friends shops rather than getting anything done in our own,  we start the new year by visiting “Crafty B Nostalgic Speed” near Caledonia, MI. 

Kirk Brown, aka “Crafty B”, is shown here holding his latest creation, a cast aluminum ’32 Ford grill, and it’s screen inserts, up to his ’32 roadster project.  The car, a long forgotten X-drag strip warrior from the ’60’s, is being brought back to life in Kirk’s shop.  The grill shell is the latest in his line of  cool cast aluminium goodies that he markets.  This car will also sport his own Hallock style windshield, although we didn’t get to see it.  The parts are being cast a local foundry Kirk uses.

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Above left, Kirk examines the rear of the much abused ’32’s body, which he relieved of a set of bobbed fenders that had been welded to the quarters.  While it’s fairly rust free, it suffered from a casual approach to metalwork in the past.  In addition to the welded on and mudded in fenders, the car had been channeled by hacking the floor and subrails out with a torch, and rear quarters pushed outward by about 4 inches, again by  just torching away the factory bracing and pushing the sides out with a jack.  Never fear, Kirk and his friends are getting the body squared up, braced up, and getting it ready for street by spring.

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Shown above is his ’32 three window, again saved from a former life of drag strip abuse, having more or less been wadded up into a ball and left for dead.  It too will sport LOTS of one-off aluminum goodies from Kirk’s inventive parts inventory, including the replica E&J headlights, matching tailights, an absolutely beautiful tilt steering set up.  In addition to those bits, the car will sport a 6.71 blown Buick nailhead engine and a 5 speed.   Like the trunk-lid?  Kirk also punches louvers on a (naturally), home-grown louver press. 

DSC04159 (1024x768)It’s always fun to visit Kirk’s shop, whether it’s during his every-Friday morning  “Geezer Coffee” and shop open-house, or any weekday when he and his friends are working on the latest projects.  There’s always guys dropping in to help out, get work done on their own, or his projects.  That’s what Hot Rodding really is, good friends getting together to turn neglected junk, and bits of metal into works of art.

Thanks for the welcom, and the  inspiration Kirk!

Here at Cool McCool’s Garage, our panel of automotive styling experts and Hot Rod Historians sometimes don’t always agree on what’s “Hot”, and what’s “Not”.  This year, our executive committee traveled over 10 miles to attend the NSRA “Nats North”, right here in sunny Kalamazoo, MI.  We didn’t all agree on the cars, but we did agree it was a great weekend, that we got to hang out with some great friends, and that we managed to not spend all our project money on, well, another project.  (Thanks John Hall for letting the CEO off the hook on the Riv’s when the CFO put the brakes on the Riviera project).  Anyway, without further ado, our panel of experts now present, in maybe no particular order, what’s “Hot”, and what’s “Not” in Hot Rodding, 2012…

Hot, hot, hot.  Pagan Gold ’40 Ford Coupe.  And, yes, it’s got a Hemi in it.  From the white firewall, white walls, and just enough “bling” to be period correct, but still a “real” car, this was a standout.

Remember the ’80’s?  Of course you do, how could you forget when you’re reminded of it every time you look at your ’40 Ford Coupe and realize you now can’t afford to paint over that God-awful pastel pink paint job you thought was so cool?  Even if you still sort of liked the grey tweed interior, you know it’ll cost 20 large to undo what you did back then.  Of course, those Jordasche jeans don’t look any  better on you now either… 

There were, of course, even worse examples of this sad, but popular trend, but, this particular car represented the best, and the worst, of hot rodding.  Like a “Project Runway” winner, and loser, all in one.

Smok’n hot.  Traditional, tasteful mild customs, these happen to both be Fords, but they could have as easily been GM or Chrysler examples, we just didn’t see any of them in the hotel parking lot.  The fact that the shoebox belongs to drag legend Dick Lahay makes the one on the right even better.

Elvis and Jerry Lee were right.  Cadillacs are IT.  These two represent two completely different custom themes, but both got our blood boiling.  Although we have to say to the owner of the stunning red ‘vert,  “Close the bloody hood.”  It’s impossible to get the full impact of the car with the hood up.  Of course, we did get to see it with the hood down at the awards ceremony, where it, very deservedly, got a pro’s pick.   They’re both HOT.

Embarrassingly “Not Hot.”  Three old fat guys in lawn chairs could be the new NSRA logo.  WAKE UP!

A Cord 810 Cabriolet and a Packard “Speedster”.  Tell me, at what other show, anywhere, will you see two cars like this parked beside chopped up old Fords?  This is HOT, and it speaks to the creative genius, and diverse interest of car guys, and Hot Rodders, in general.  Steaming, scorching hot, and classy too. 

This is the exact opposite of either of the above photos.  From the sublime to the cheesiest of the cheesy.  This is great example of taking the easy way out, at the last possible second.  The car is actually OK, if you discount the (miles) of wavy, delaminating, stick on wheel lip molding plastered all over the car.  Really?  You couldn’t lay the stuff on straighter than that?  Seriously, didn’t the builder know you can get polished stainless quarter round trim right inside the exhibitors building?  Somebody needs to tell the owner of this (otherwise pretty cool) boat-tail ’36 to stay out of the accessory isle at AutoZone.   Dreadful, and even less hot than frozen dog turds in the back yard in Feb.

How do you like your trucks?  Traditional, of Bobber style?  These two demonstrate that whatever your taste, an eye for style and craftsmanship make either style a lasting statement.  Hot.

We’re not saying 4 door sedans aren’t “Hot”.  What we’re saying is that if you have no taste, and either not enough money to build a nice car, or too much money to throw at a car, the results can be equally, staggeringly awful.  Where to begin?  Square headlights in round fenders, or a chop that leaves the center of the top lower than either end.  20″ wheels and a paint job that says “If a little is good, too much is not enough.”  Not hot.  Either one may have been built as a joke, but we didn’t get it.

At least the “Street Beast” Vicky didn’t have fake bullet holes.  Although we’ve seen plenty that do.  Actually, even though it’s not “hot”, we have to give the builder of the (ahem) ’34 kudos for actually being able to put one of these things together.    The Boyds wheels look strangely “right” on it too.  In a really wrong kind of way…

Yeah, one’s a VW, and the other is a late ’70’s wagon.  These both show that NSRA is “Hot”, and that the leadership of the group has the stones to include stuff that will hopefully keep the organization going.  Of course, both of these cars are probably owned by guys with equally smok’n hot ’32 Highboys home in the garage, but they sure look good!

Flames.  Some hot, and some, not.  Which is which?  You decide.  We won’t tell you, but two of them will still look good in 20 years, and one will leave people scratching their heads wondering why those colors were chosen. 

So, there you have it.  One fabulous weekend of rods, customs, total messes and some mind-blowing success’.  Was it fun?  You bet!  Did we eat fair food and get heartburn from the Italian sausage sandwich?  You bet?  Will we do it again?  You bet, and we’ll complain, and compliment in equal parts, knowing that our car(s) will be examined in exactly the same way. 

Please remember that the opinions expressed on this blog DO NOT neccesarily represent the opinions of the management of Cool McCool’s Garage, particularly if your car was singled out for ridicule.  Also, remember that we here have made some dreadful mistakes of our own, and have, from time to time, committed sins against style on hapless old cars in an attempt to emulate popular, but misguided, trends just becaue we could. 

More news and illustration of questionable taste and judgement will follow in our next episode,  where we’ll show you where the money from the ’36 Special is going.

Stay tuned!

Going, going, gone.

Posted: September 11, 2012 in '36 Roadster, Hot Rod, Rat Rod, Real Hot Rods

Don’t look back.   That’s what I’m trying to do.  Some guy who’d been contacting me on and off for a year now called about the ’36, and in a moment of weakness (or perhaps a moment of clarity, I’m not yet sure), I surprised myself by accepting his (rather lowball) offer on the ’36. 

Why sell it? 

Lot’s of practical reasons.  First off, we have not one, not two, not even three, but 4 other hot rods/customs in the garage, and each and every one needs something.  I want to finish the Diamond T to a level I’ve not taken with a project.  The ’48 Pontiac is crying for a decent interior to replace the awful early 90’s Caddy seats I stuck in it temporarily over 10 years ago, and it needs a new top.   The T’Bird needs the windshield chop completed,  repainted and the original front drum brakes and spindles put back on in place of the LTDII stuff I put on back when I sanded the paint off it.  The ’51 wagon needs a heater/defroster and wipers before we head out on vacation to the Blue Ridge Parkway in three weeks.  Maybe even A/C.

From an emotional standpoint, the roadster had become sort of like my long gone Harley Panhead.  I like it.  I like seeing it crouched in the garage, like it’s ready to go tear somenes head off,  but the reality of driving it isn’t the thrill it was initially.  I’d only put a couple hundred miles on all summer, only filled the tank twice.  Every time I got in it, I wished I’d not channeled it, left a little more suspension travel, gone with disk brakes on the front, quicker steering, a laundry list of things I’d like to do differently.

In other words, I was thinking of building a completely new chassis, which meant starting over.

Faced with the same prospect several years ago with our ’48 Spartan Manor, we sold it, built the ’46 incorperating all the things we wanted a “do-over” for.  The car is the same.  Why re-do, as oppossed to a clean slate start over?

The tipping point was a conversation with my friend John.  He summed it pretty well when he said, “That’s always going to be YOUR car.   Every time this guy shows it, takes it anywhere, people will ask, ‘Did you build it?’, and he’ll have to say, ‘No, some guy in Michigan built it, I just bought it.’  You had the vision, built it, got famous with it in Hot Rod.  It’s still always going to be YOUR car.”

Very true.  I had fun designing it.  I had fun collecting the parts and putting them together.  I even had fun working out the myriad “bugs” the car had initially, and I really had fun seeing it published in Hot Rod magazine, a life-long dream.I even made money, pretty serious money, on it, and that doesn’t happen very often with collector cars.  It’s true the per/hour rate wasn’t as much as had I worked as many hours of overtime, but how much fun would that have been?   It certainly beat what I’d have made watching TV.

Sort of like hitting the Trifecta.

Will I replace it something else?  I’m sure that SOMETHING will come along, after all, nature (and avacant garage stall)  abhors a vacuum.  I have a couple of cars left in me, I just need to decide that will be.  I’ve got a couple of ideas swirling around, but nothing has “jelled” yet.  The “to do” list above is certainly long enough, and something else will probably (definitely) have to go before another project is started. 

We’ll see.

For now,  I’m not regretting the decision to let it go, and we’ll see what happens from here.








Addendum:  I should also add to the list of things to be done that the Chris Craft needs a new bottom,  much of the decking replaced, and new seat covers.   There’s also the “new” ’47 Manor in the back yard that I promised the orignal owners I was going to restore.   I need to re-build (again!) the pump for the plow for the GMC, after all winter is coming, and I’d really like to re-hab Craigs Mustang convert.  All of a sudden, all that money seems to be spent…