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 is a potpourri of visual delights not the least of which is t
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 Diamond T truck (what else) received the RRT treatment with b
The steering wheel is an MG (banjo style) with a custom-made brass horn button by Joe Kerr
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 stainless and brass dash knobs, such as the light switch, push b
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.
The forward tilt bomber bench seat is upholstered in embossed brown leather by Jim Griffin
The SHRS-built front suspension is based on a Magnum (Oakhurst, CA) 5-inch drop tube axle employing MG "bug eye" Sprite shocks, split '46 Ford 'bones shortened 8 inches, and 12-inch Bendix-style drum brakes from MT Car Products; SHRS also fabbed the Panhard bar. The rear suspension is based on a Hot Rod Works (Nampa, ID) quickie with an SHRS cover incorporating a visible site tube. Locating the quick-change are Posies quarter-elliptic springs, split '46 Ford wishbones turned backward and bobbed, and MG shocks. An interesting feature of both the front and rear brakes are the SHRS-designed radial finned brake rings machined by Joe Kerr. These rings slip over the existing brake drums and bolt into place; there are also SHRS aluminum race car-style backing plate covers.
Steering is another noteworthy mod utilizing a reversed '55 Chevy box by Dale Fairfax creating a side steer utilizing a Pitman arm made from a stock spare tire mount off of the truck. SHRS fabricated the tie rod and draglink using '28-34 draglink ends with Teflon bushing inserts and brass end plugs all machined by Fairfax; reminiscent of components from a Miller Indy race car. Other steering components include the telescopic MG column topped off with an MG wheel and a custom brass horn button by Kerr, sporting the "Indiana-look" logo-an outline of the state with overlapping racetrack wings.
Moal Coachworks built the grille reminiscent of the Miller style...
... like the one depicted in the Ed Tillrock drawing entitled, "Indy 1932."
The body is brilliantly accented by the custom 19-inch Dayton wire wheels, measuring 5 inches wide in front and 8-1/2 inches in back. The wheels are painted in Martha Stewart 106 yellow with polished stainless steel spokes anchored with gold-plated nipples-and that's all we're going to say! The knockoffs feature the Indiana-look logo. "Where the rubber meets the road" you will find Coker Excelsior Comp V vintage racing tires measuring 4.50 and 7.00.
Hiding behind the custom aluminum and riveted fan shroud is a Steve Long brass radiator bu
The valve cover, intake manifold, the headers and exhaust system, and the 8mm MSD wires wr
It took four pickup bodies to come up with enough sheetmetal to build one good truck. The cab, hood, and bed feature numerous metal touches by SHRS that include a cowl from a sedan that was stretched 5-1/2 inches, vent moved forward 1-1/2 inches, cowl bottom curved upward, and a forward top chop of only 3/4 inch, leaving the windshield stock height, and a 1-inch deeper visor. (Door handles are from a '34 Ford.) Jerry "Weeks" Baker punched the many louvers and massaged the hood blister into the five-piece hood. SHRS narrowed the bed 6 inches and incorporated aluminum inserts, fitted a roll pan, gas tank cover (the 8-gallon aluminum tank was fabricated at RRT), and a pushbar rear bumper. The Lace wood was shaped and fitted by Dale Smith. The body and paintwork was handled by Warren Lewis of RRT using Glasurit-brand British Racing Green while Tom Evans applied the gold leaf and striping. All the brightwork (aside from the polished aluminum) was handled by Sherm's Plating (Sacramento, CA). We mentioned polished aluminum; imagine polishing the louvered panels then masking off the individual louvers allowing for paint, buffing, and pinstriping. RRT gets the award for harnessing the power of patience.
Accenting the Miller-style grille are chromed E&J Type 20 headlights resting on an SHRS headlight bar. The taillights are a compilation of components; starting with Home Depot yard lights, machined billet rings, and stainless steel reflectors made from a spice bowl. The red glass lenses were rescued from railroad lanterns while the taillight stanchions are '40 Ford steering column shift arms.
The four-banger is based on a Donovan aluminum block, Chevy billet steel five-main cranksh
Moving inside there are any number of items that compete for your attention; there's the dash panel, the seating, the aluminum work, and of course the pair of Model T oil pans blended together by SHRS to create a faux transmission cover. The truck dash (with Model A eyebrow) is outfitted with a Diamond T dash insert Stinger rescued from a junkyard. From here RRT machined a brass insert ring, while Fairfax machined the stainless and brass dash knobs (light switch, push button start). The gauges come from Classic Instruments (Boyne City, MI) and, they too, sport the Indiana-look logo. Making all the electrics work fell to Jared Zimmerman of RRT who neatly routed the wiring. The SHRS forward-tilting bomber-style bench seat features a built-in lumbar while all stitchwork was done by Jim Griffin (Bend, OR) using embossed brown leather. The isolated squares of black diamond rubber make up the floor covering. Lawrence Laughlin of RRT machined the pedals out of brass resembling the "no-slip" aftermarket units once sold for the Model T.
Since the very definition of a hot rod is, "build a car, or truck, that represents your values with enhanced performance" we would be remiss if we didn't call attention to the potent four-banger that nestles between the 'rails. Of course, to call this four-cylinder a "banger" may be unkind. It's a Donovan aluminum block wrapped around a Chevy five-main crankshaft connected to Cunningham H-beam rods pinned to TRW Chevy forged flat top pistons and wrapped with Sealed Power molly filled rings. Now that's a short-block.
Original concept drawing by Brian Stinger of Stinger's Hot Rod Shop who gets credit for pe
The Marvelous Mechanical Designs of Harry A. Miller is a must for rodders. It's loaded wit
If the motor is the soul of a hot rod then the cam is its heartbeat. Paul Kosma (Horn Lake, MS) machined and assembled plenty of heart and soul into this 201-inch four-cylinder, beginning with a COMP Cams special Offy profile stick along with an aluminum timing gear by Dan McEachern. A vintage aluminum Miller Hi-Speed head was packaged by Steve Serr and designed with 6.5:1 compression, 1.94-inch intake and 1.50-inch exhaust valves coupled with dual valvesprings and shaft-mounted aluminum 1.5 ratio roller rockers. An RRT machined valve cover closes up the head. Ignition and electrics are a combination of a Mallory Model B distributor machined to work with a Honda Civic ignition cap while the alternator is a Powermaster. Cooling this power-packed four is a Steve Long brass radiator, an aluminum Steve Serr water pump, and a Model T fan.
Minus the nifty cover, the RRT 8-gallon aluminum gas tank, fuel pump, and battery box are
In the world of hot rods you need sizzle to go along with the bang. Kosma built the bang and RRT built plenty of sizzle with the custom intake propping up a pair of Stromberg 97s (deburred and safety wired) topped with '30s-era Chris Craft marine air cleaners. More RRT sizzle includes cloth-wrapped MSD 8mm wiring adding to the vintage appeal, and stainless steel headers/exhaust system running to Flowmaster mufflers. In the category of "copious amounts of patience," RRT also drilled, spiraled, and safety wired all the engine bolts. In fact, look closely and you'll see safety wire used throughout the truck.
So, how does all this power get back to the quick-change? A Tremec SD T5 (five-speed) coupled to a Mustang hydraulic clutch package and operated by an RRT shifter that's how. The World Class Tremec was put together by Astro Trans from Tavares, Florida. The missing link between the tranny and rearend is the custom driveshaft from Wilkinson's Custom Driveshaft in Lafayette, Indiana.
In the final analysis, why would George build a hot rod that is so intricate, some would say even over-the-top? The best answer is in his quote, "I really love a challenge and I feel we (myself, SHRS, and RRT) built more than a truck-it's a masterpiece." Tough to argue with positive results.
The shocks are highly detailed, and we do mean highly. MG Sprite (bug eye) lever action wi
Hot Rod Works quick-change rearend is superbly detailed.