All of us from time to time want to give our ride a redo. It's our nature as hot rodders to tinker, modify, or just plain ol' screw with it! Not that there's anything wrong, we just want to try fresh paint, or a wheel/tire combo, or suspension, or power. Then of course there are times when mechanical gremlins step into the picture and cause us serious amounts of grief, which brings us to our story.
The steering wheel is a menu process of selection; there's the traditional circular, large
Zack Norman, of Venice, California, was driving back from Viva Las Vegas many years ago when his highboy's driveshaft let loose-and we mean loose! Troy Ladd of Hollywood Hot Rods (HHR) in Burbank, California, just happened to be driving his Chevy behind Zack and watched the driveshaft exit stage right. Zack admits the Texas Deuce was a bit of a beater and that it would be as good a time as any to freshen it up. And so began his eight-year project.
For many of us our hot rod gene is passed down from our fathers, and Zack was no different, but here's an addendum. His father was into more than cars-he was also a pilot and flew biplanes out of Santa Paula, California. Growing up, his dad would take him flying, so the love of planes and hot rods took hold. The two of them thoroughly enjoyed the likes of the World War II aircraft and even Zack's grandmother was a "Rosie the Riveter" and built P-38s during World War II at the Lockheed plant in Burbank. With this family history planted it was no surprise that when harvest came there would be a passion for the roar of an engine; whether it is in a car or a plane.
Yep, the real deal-if it could only tell its story.
While Zack and Ladd kicked around ways to achieve the look, it was always Zack's idea to build a hot rod that represented, "... what a Lockheed engineer might build for himself if he was a hot rodder on the weekends." Kind of reminds us of the Johnny Cash song "One Piece at a Time" in which the Kentucky boy makes his way to the big city of Detroit "workin' on a 'sembly line." Each day he watched those beauties and figured he could get himself his own; one piece at a time. Well, we aren't saying that Zack employed the "five-finger discount" to gather all of the parts but nonetheless he did round up an incredible array of World War II airplane components and set Ladd and HHR to work. Zack is proud of the fact that he was able to "touch" all aspects of the build and bring in the aircraft influence without going too far. He says that all of the parts were readily available and cheap from military surplus. As with any hot rod, when we asked Zack is there was anything that he would change, he said, "After driving it for the first long trip I've started to design mufflers." Good idea, but in the meantime let's take a closer look.
The vintage Caddy now sports 363 inches up from the original 331. A pair of Carters restin
The Deuce highboy is a combination of genie steel and Brookville Roadster sheetmetal; the wheelwells were moved up 4-1/2 inches, while the cowl sides were reshaped and the cowl top smoothed. The windshield is a custom aluminum frame with distinct aircraft ties; even the rearview mirror is FAA approved. The Deuce grille shell does feature holes drilled into the lower pan and a mesh steel insert. However, what may be the most unusual feature of the '32 grille shell is the pitot tube, which is an open tube facing forward along the axis of the roadster (or aircraft) to gather data for vertical speed; and yes all the gauges do work. It should be noted the radiator supports are aircraft strut rods. An interesting sheetmetal feature is the roll pan, which, when pressed into service, opens (à la bomb bay door or landing gear-you pick) and becomes a storage area. Look closely above the roll pan and you'll notice very different looking but appropriate taillights-they're aircraft wing markers. The bodywork was handled by HHR, while Tom Prewitt and Matt Means, of the Department of Customs in Anaheim, California, used House of Kolor Kosmic Krome (PN MC01.C01, aluminum effect) and black to yield the two-tone, mild-scallop scheme. Following the paint hue note that the brightwork is "bright" but not chrome and is instead nickel plating by Faith Plating in West Hollywood.
The cockpit is the best and appropriate way to describe the interior on this highboy Deuce
There are a lot of aircraft gauges and, yes, they all work! They are all housed in a custo
The real trick is to tell which is which.
The "carpeting" in reality is military surplus canvas that is snapped down in similar fash
It may look like a pair of aircraft throttles, but in reality it's the shifter for the T-5
The seating is the always-popular aluminum bomber-style covered in surplus military canvas
Another outwardly interesting feature is the wheel/tire combo. The custom-made steelies have aluminum rings (almost covers) that are safety wired to the wheels reminiscent of what you might find on an aircraft wheel. They measure 20 inches in diameter with a width of 4 inches in front and 6 inches in back. Wrapping the wheels are Excelsior Comp V measuring 5.00-20s and 6.50-20s. Now that's tall 'n' skinny!
The windshield is a handmade aluminum frame again built with an open cockpit aircraft flai
The rearview mirror is again vintage aircraft.
Arguably the most intriguing area on this one-of-a-kind hot rod is the interior. If your first response is, "World War II fighter aircraft," you get it and we're sure Zack (and Ladd) would feel the build was a successful effort. Where to start?
The bomber seats are covered in surplus military canvas over cushions; as for the seatbelts-military surplus (what else?). The carpeting is again military canvas that snaps into position, while all the stitched handiwork was performed by Dave Martinez who is stationed in Burbank. Finishing out the cockpit persona is the HHR tinwork. We imagine for effect and affect there are two steering wheels; effect is a genuine P-38 yoke; and affect is a traditional aluminum three-spoke, large-diameter traditional hot rod wheel. The custom-made stainless steel aircraft-esque dash panel that's outfitted with loads of working (yes, working) gauges collected through the surplus route from various aircrafts such as a P-51, a Corsair, a Catalina, a B-25, a Spitfire, and a Bell-H13 (that's a helicopter!) is fascinating. The switches are the traditional "kill-switch" with indicator light and all the wiring runs through a Centec panel handled by HHR.
The drilled framerails are reminiscent of the inner skeleton structure of a warplane; some
To bridge the gap between where the steering shaft and steering column "want" to go and th
Power for our earthbound hot rod comes via a vintage Cad circa 1949, however the original 331 inches and 160 hp have been upped to 363 inches and nearly 300 hp through the use of 10:1 compression, custom ground cam, and an Edmunds aluminum intake with dual Carter carbs topped with a one-off teardrop-style air cleaner. Firing off the load is a Spalding Flamethrower and dual coils while the spent gases exit through a set of stainless "weed burner" headers. (Remember, earlier we said that Zack is designing mufflers to accompany the headers for those long drives-good decision!) Backed up to the Caddy is a T5 (five-speed) out of a Chevy S-10 with a hydraulic throw-out bearing setup; note the shifter, which is reminiscent of aircraft throttle controls.
HHR built the '32-style framerails (and complete chassis) with a 10-inch sweeping Z to the rear and a 4-inch sweeping Z to the front; keeps the car a true highboy yet gets it down in the weeds, much like a channeled rod. The rear suspension is wrapped around a Ford 9-inch with limited-slip 4.11 gears, 31-spline axles, and Ford drum brakes with drilled backing plates. A pair of Pete & Jakes (Peculiar, MO) ladder bars and shocks are used along with a '40 Ford transverse spring, and Panhard bar. In front, a 5-inch drop solid I-beam axle with split 'bones rests between the early Ford spindles, transverse spring, P&J shocks, and the '41 Lincoln backing plates mated to the '39 Lincoln drums.
The HHR custom pedal assembly works the hydraulic clutch and the brake pedal for the dual reservoir master cylinder. HHR also built the custom steering column that operates the Vega cross steer, which passes through the split wishbones. Another unique feature is the firewall mounted chain drive steering that allows the steering column to pass through the firewall (at the driver's discretion) yet easily connects to the steering shaft, which resides beneath the engine.
Well, our recommendation would be to keep away from any FFA inspectors as they just might take this hot rod a little too seriously, but in the meantime we believe Zack through Hollywood Hot Rods nailed the presentation.
The trunk has the usual goodies, but you will notice a holder for the steering wheel when
We suppose we could refer to this as the landing gear door but our guess is it's extra sto