With the automotive aftermarket industry what it is today, to say there is no shortage of options out there when it comes to radiator availability is to put it lightly. There are, however, circumstances where the make and model radiator just won't work in certain applications. An aftermarket radiator designed for a stock '32 Ford just won't fit in a channeled roadster with a track nose. Likewise, many fiberglass street rods don't have the necessary hardware (such as a stock-style radiator support) to mount an original-style radiator. In this case, one is left with the only option available; to have a custom radiator built to suit the specific needs of that car.
But when it comes to having a custom radiator built, there are many factors that can wreak havoc if the necessary channels of communication between the customer and the radiator shop break down. A greasy napkin with some rough dimensions laid out will probably not yield the end product the consumer likely had in mind.
We recently came upon such a situation when we were sorting out the radiator issues on fellow Street Rodder staffer Eric Geisert's California Hauler '41 Willys project. Without a radiator support to work from, we were forced to take some rough measurements and try to fab up a radiator mockup that would give Don Armstrong and his crew at U.S. Radiator a good idea of what we needed. But before we jumped blindly into the task, we decided to pay Don a visit and see just how he goes about building a radiator mockup.