When we asked George Poteet "why?" he calmly told us, "I wanted to build a tribute to the Miller race car." It was a great answer and for those who know something about Harry A. Miller and his body of work you realize he was ahead of his time. He was a true hot rodder; he built engines, race cars, race boats, luxury cars, land speed record cars, you name it, he had his hands (and ideas) in it.
Another question we put to George was, "How did you get involved in hot rodding?" With a straight face and southern calm about his voice he said, "I was tired of riding a horse and a bicycle." As funny as his answer is, many a hot rodder grew up straddling a Schwinn (a few even a horse) while watching their dads and older brothers tune-up A/V-8s, gow jobs, bombs, you pick the slang. There was something fascinating about each of our initial forays into the world of cars.
As is often the case, we build what makes the greatest and deepest impressions upon us. George is fascinated with all things hot rod and knowing this he dipped into history to honor the likes of Miller by pulling from the past and bringing it to the present. But just how did George get the idea?
Let's start at the beginning: the grille shell. George was visiting Moal Coachworks in Oakland, California, when he noticed they had just finished making a reproduction Miller grille. George asked if they could build two more '31 era grilles-one for his highboy Deuce five-window coupe (featured last year in STREET RODDER), and a second for a project to be named. Welcome to "project to be named."
Where to begin; the interior...
Where to begin; the interior is a potpourri of visual delights not the least of which is the ornate use of aluminum and rivets. Look closely at the center console; could that be a pair of Model T oil pans?
Brian Stinger, of Stinger's Hot Rod Shop (SHRS) in Indianapolis, was visiting George one day and caught a look at the second grille. As the story goes, "The rest is history ..." as Stinger then worked on a design. The theme followed something along the lines of what Harry T. Miller might build for Indy if NASCAR was thundering down the backstretch in 1932. There were the must-haves for George, like the stretched cowl, hidden gas tank, aluminum seat and interior panels, MG steering wheel, and don't forget lots of rivets and louvers. For the next three years George and Stinger worked closely, moving closer to achieving the desired results.
When it came time for the final fit, body and paintwork, and body and chassis details, it was off to Troy Trepanier of Rad Rides by Troy (RRT) in Manteo, Illinois. Troy added hours of custom machine work in an attempt to capture the Miller style by machining parts that might have been made during the '30s but fit into "the project to be named."
A massaged steel dash from...
A massaged steel dash from a Diamond T truck (what else) received the RRT treatment with bezels turned from brass that wrap around the Classic Instruments gauges.
The steering wheel is an MG...
The steering wheel is an MG (banjo style) with a custom-made brass horn button by Joe Kerr with the Indiana look.
Stinger spent the project's last three months working side by side at RRT assisting in the final assembly. It was Stinger's eye for the intended design and his fabrication work combined with RRT's attention to detail that brought the Miller Hauler Special to fruition.
Dale Fairfax machined the...
Dale Fairfax machined the stainless and brass dash knobs, such as the light switch, push button start, etc.
But, we are jumping ahead of ourselves. The original Deuce frame features an SHRS front crossmember moved forward 3 inches, custom fronthorns, and Ionia Hot Rod Shop (Ionia, MI) X-member and boxing plates. The genie frame was bobbed behind the cab and from here SHRS built a 2x4 U-channel rectangular box that was welded to the frame.
Miller collectors, historians, and fans will tell you that a common occurrence on their race car was the exposure of the suspension to the outside of the framerails, such as on the Barney Oldfield raced Golden Submarine, where the rear springs are mounted outboard. This design element was incorporated at all four corners by placing the Posies (Hummelstown, PA) quarter-elliptic springs to the outside of the Deuce framerails.