Jim Clark lives in Hays, Kansas, a few miles from Ellis, the home of Mike Keller's shop, Big Creek Restoration (BCR). Jim and Keller have been friends ever since BCR built Jim's '66 Mustang several years ago. Jim still visits the shop from time to time to see what they're working on.
When he dropped by in December 2009, Keller showed him a '30 Model A roadster with an Olds 455 that he was rebuilding to drive to the L.A. Roadster Show in June. That visit changed Jim's life. "We went for a ride. Wow! A light car with big power is fun!"
You'd leave the hood sides open too if you were packing this kind of high performance. The
On December 28, Jim was on the phone to Keller. "I told him I wanted to go to the L.A. Roadster Show too-could he build me a roadster in time? He said he'd think about it. The next day he called back. He could build it, but in order to get all the parts in time, it was going to have to happen fast."
By the end of the first week in January, Keller and Glyn Lindberg at BCR had compiled a parts list and finished most of the ordering. One of their first calls was to Steve's Auto Restoration (SAR) in Portland, Oregon, which builds Real Steel roadster bodies. SAR had a 1933 Model A roadster "on the shelf" and had it shipped to Kansas quick. Jim liked the version with a cowl vent and external door hinges for an authentic look, which has been completed by a pair of Bob Drake Reproductions stock door handles. Front fender aprons were extended to flow into the lower cowl sides. Rootlieb supplied the hood top and Rod Tops sent a cloth top. A pair of SO-CAL shorty mirrors were mounted on the windshield stanchions, and '33 commercial headlights and '37 taillights provide fore and aft illumination. Ernie Fink and Alan Stouffer at BCR did most of the bodywork and Kyle Kinderknecht did lots of fabrication, including all the brackets and pieces that make it all go together. Jim wanted the roadster painted deep blue and several shades were mixed before Fink finished the job with PPG's single-stage version of '30 Pierce Arrow Blue.
The guys at Big Creek-Mike, Kyle, Glyn, Lance Moland, Allen Stouffer, and Ernie Fink-put i
Framerails from Cornhusker Rod & Custom arrived at the end of January. The chassis was built along traditional lines, with a Super Bell dropped and drilled axle and hairpins in front, and Pete & Jakes ladder bars and a Currie traction lock 9-inch with 3.00:1 gears at the rear. Both ends hang on SO-CAL Speed Shop shocks and Posies springs.
The tires are Michelin radials. Front skinnies are 145SR15 XZX blackwalls and the rears are 235/85R16 XPS Rib light truck tires. Painted Gennie steel rims from Wheel Vintiques are dressed up with '41 Ford caps and rings. The front brakes are 12-inch Buick 45-fin drums with Wilson Welding backing plates. Currie 11-inch drums are used in the rear.
Plenty of engines would have been cool in this roadster, but Mike hit the bulls eye with a '65 dual carb top oiler 427. LG Machine in Ellis took care of the machine and assembly work, balancing and blueprinting the 0.020-over Ford. Internals include 10:1 JE pistons, LeMans rods, and Clevite bearings. Heads and headers, valve covers, and an air cleaner are stock, as is the 2x4 intake manifold topped with 600-cfm Holleys. An MSD 6AL-2 and Mallory distributor wake up the 427, capable of 430 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. A C4 Street Smart System automatic transmission from Performance Automotive delivers that torque to the rearend.
Jim thought his roadster was finished when he left Kansas, but Von Hot Rod painted this fi
The interior is as classic and classy as a traditional sports car, starting with deep tan leather covering a Glide bench and BCR custom door panels, plus German square-weave covering the floor. Gasper Auto Trim in Victoria, Kansas, did a beautiful job on the upholstery. Distinctive '37 Nash gauges, restored and revived by Redline Gauge Works, were added to the modified Brookville dash. A LimeWorks banjo wheel and column, Bob Drake mirror, and Gennie 12-inch Ultra Shifter are other elements adding to the looks. A Custom Autosound Secretaudio system and Pyle speakers were installed by BCR.
Jim said the ride to California was one of the best of his life-visiting roadside attractions, stopping at the state signs for pictures, and eating sandwiches in gas station parking lots. "And the view from a roadster is so much different." Jim put 3,800 miles on the roadster last summer-with more planned for this year, including a trip from Hays to Washington State. More miles, state signs, gas station sandwiches, and tourist sites in a built-fast, built-to-drive, light car with big power.