Q. One of my all-time favorite hot rods is Tex Smith's XR-6 that I saw as a kid in Hot Rod magazine. If I'm not mistaken, STREET RODDER did a story on the car around 10 years ago. Over the years I've collected a ton of parts, including a good 225 slant six, trans, and rearend out of a Dodge Lancer. I've got two fiberglass bodies, one 1923 and one 1927, so I can combine them as Tex did.
Underneath the swoopy new body was the 2x4 rectangular tube frame Tex built in his garage
While I love how the XR-6 looked when it won America's Most Beautiful Roadster (I even built the model) I want to do a simpler, low-buck version with a turtledeck and a race car nose, as both those features are more within my talent and budget than the original design. However I do want to keep the frame and running gear true to the original. Is there any chance that there are photos of the chassis under construction for reference?
I've been reading STREET RODDER since it first appeared on the newsstands, and while I have owned some old cars (a 1937 Ford with a warmed-over Flathead and a '50 Chevy with a 283 V-8 and a Powerglide) I bought them pretty much as they were and made minor changes, as there never seemed to be enough time or money for building a street rod from the ground up. Now my son and grandson are enthused about doing a project together so this will be a three-generation project.
Thanks to you and the staff of STREET RODDER for a great magazine with useful information—I look forward to it each month.
Charles C. Chadwick
Via the Internet
A. This sounds like a great opportunity to involve your son and grandson in a unique project.
The XR-6 was truly innovative but Tex Smith has always tweaked the envelope, as this car proved. Ironically the original intent was to build a low-dollar, lightweight hot rod with a track nose. Several rearend treatments were proposed, including a small stake bed.
The original plan for the XR-6 was to use a Cal Custom fiberglass body that combined the f
Back in the Sept. '01 issue of STREET RODDER we did a story on the XR-6. As Tex explained, he had been using a lot of drawings from artist Steve Swaja, a student at the nearby art center. Tex asked Swaja if he could design a roadster project using a combination 1923-27 Model T body and a race car nose. This was the drawing that we used as the project was introduced in Hot Rod.
Tex went on to say that Curt Hamilton and Bud Lang had recently begun producing the first fiberglass replicas of the Model T bodies, mostly for drag cars, and they agreed to graft the rear portion of a 1923 body onto a 1927 roadster body. A former Petersen employee, Dick Day, was working for a major model car company in Detroit and they wanted to introduce a new 2-in-1 model kit (a stocker and a hot rod based on the same body). Tex was asked to dramatically redesign the body and the model company would pick up the tab; that's when George Barris, Dick Dean, and later, Gene Winfield, got involved.
Tex explained his choice of an engine which he described as "…both unusual and powerful enough for a good street-driven rod. It was in the form of an aluminum truck block limited-production Dodge Slant 6 with an automatic trans (it was out of a factory test car that I had bought from Chrysler). It had run hard in the station wagon, with a long ram induction and split exhaust, officially listed as a Hyper-Pak option. But, in those days it was common for the factories to push the envelope, with their ‘magazine test'–prepared cars. This engine/trans/rearend combination was a dynamite package that was far better than what I wanted in my family wagon. The West Coast PR rep for Chrysler had the original power package put back in the wagon, and gave me the other stuff."
As one of the first "concept rods" the XR-6 won a host of awards, but Tex isn't a car show kind of guy so the XR-6 and trailer were sold for $3,600 to finance the next project.
This construction shot shows the fiberglass body in place. Note the engine is equipped wit
Here the steel body used in the car’s final form is in place. The brace above the radiator
A very young-looking LeRoi "Tex" Smith trying the XR-6 on for size. Note the coilovers and