To slam the Metropolitan to the ground, Rodger fabbed up a custom chassis with a one-off f
When you build hard-core street shakers for a living, you’re used to working with certain elements of design and engineering, blending massive amounts of horsepower and handling together to work in unison. Rodger Purdy Jr. has become well-known for his ability to bring these fire-breathing projects to life at his shop, Pro Street Chassis in Chesterfield, New Jersey.
It takes a sharp eye with just enough restraint to infuse the right amount of attitude into each build while not going over the top. When trying to decide on what to create next for his own personal driver, since it would act as a recognizable facet of his business, Rodger explored countless makes and models before deciding on a Nash Metropolitan. While he had seen a number of Pro Street versions over the years, he always envisioned one with a laid-down stance, just the right engine combination, and a memorable yet subtle paint treatment.
With an initial design impression in mind, the search for a donor car began. After looking at a number of possibilities on the Internet, he located a suitable donor on eBay and won the auction. The ’61 Nash came with a bit of neat history as it had sat in front of a pizza shop in New York for the past 18 years as an advertising prop. Once the car was picked up, it was trailered back to the shop for a full evaluation.
With the initial plans set, the car was stripped to bare bones and cutting torches came out to remove the floors. With the car being so diminutive in size, special attention needed to be addressed for each upcoming step since they would most likely interact closely with each other.
Nothing says I’m ready to rumble like a 565ci Merlin V-8 assembled by Henry Jackson Racing
Knowing that he would be loading a gut-wrenching big-block into the tiny engine bay, Rodger set forth to design a fresh chassis (originally the car was unibody) starting with 2x3-inch mandrel-bent rectangular steel complete with custom crossmembers. To be able to tuck wide rubber under the back of the car, a Ford 9-inch rearend was extensively narrowed and filled with a combination of 3.90:1 gears and Strange axles. Suspended in place with a custom four-link and antiroll bar, bumps get ironed out by QA1 coilover shocks and springs. To add razor-sharp handing up front, a modified Art Morrison IFS was set in place with matching 2-inch dropped spindles deftly matched to QA1 coilover shocks and springs. Since the car would be generating wicked horsepower, a Wilwood master pushes fluid to 11-inch drilled Wilwood discs at each corner to make stopping a breeze. With the chassis completed, it was set to roll on a big ’n’ little combination of Weld Racing Magnum Drag 2.0 wheels with double bead locks and Mickey Thompson Sportsman SR rubber to set an aggressive stance.
Rodger’s biggest challenge for the build was to fit a big-block V-8 in the tiny engine bay without altering the classic lines of the Nash. After deciding on the engine combination, he worked with Henry Jackson Racing Engines of Cream Ridge, New Jersey, to assemble a 565ci mind-altering behemoth, starting with a Merlin block. Internal components would make any hard-core racer smile with envy, including an Eagle crank and rods, JE 10:1 slugs, a custom ground stick, and Dart aluminum heads filled with COMP Cams valvesprings and rockers. For the ultimate visual impact Rodger designed a one-off sheetmetal intake and crowned it with an 1150 Holley Dominator massaged by Gary Williams capped by a custom air cleaner. Detailed like a piece of fine jewelry, it was linked to a TH400 trans by A C Transmission of Hulmeville, Pennsylvania. The combination sparks to life through an MSD ignition and dumps its spent gases through a set of owner-designed headers.