DIF­FER­ENT STROKES

RETRO ROD WITH BITE

NZV8 - - CONTENTS - WORDS: TODD WYLIE PHO­TOS: BOB REED / ADAM CROY

In a world that seems to be be­com­ing more and more beige, peo­ple like Mark Hold­away are a wel­come re­lief. While many are be­com­ing too afraid of the PC brigade to do any­thing re­motely out­side the box, Mark’s strug­gling to re­mem­ber what the box looks like, see­ing as he’s lived most of his life out­side it. The main area in which Mark likes to be a non­con­formist is with his cars. While he uses some amaz­ingly rare and hard-to-find parts that tra­di­tion­al­ists would give their left baby-maker for, he’s not one for stick­ing to a set tra­di­tional recipe. The 1932 road­ster that Mark’s owned for the past three years is a great ex­am­ple of this. There’s no doubt­ing that its retro look is bang on, but there’s a whole lot more to it than what you first see. Mark’s a born and bred hot rod­der and gen­eral tin­kerer, and his love of Ardun over­head-valve en­gines goes back to when they were first pro­duced. In fact, he had a near en­counter with pur­chas­ing some of the rare items way back in 1971 when he was an ap­pren­tice me­chanic. While that chance es­caped him, thanks to a less-than-scrupu­lous seller, the de­sire to ac­quire some only grew stronger as Mark be­came more im­mersed in the world of retro hot rod­ding. It was in 2014 that Mark got the chance of a life­time — for the sec­ond time — and he wasn’t about to let go of it in a hurry. It came about while he was brows­ing eBay and stum­bled across an un­com­pleted project 1932 Ford road­ster. While any steel-bod­ied ’32 is cool, this one was on a whole dif­fer­ent level. The car had been sold new in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, where it was hot rod­ded in the 1960s. Now for sale in Colorado by an Aussie hot rod fab­ri­ca­tor, the car was about to get yet an­other coun­try’s stamp in its pass­port. Back home in Mark’s shed, the road­ster joined his col­lec­tion of odd-ball en­gine-pow­ered ma­chines. How­ever, un­like a few still in the build, it’d be pushed through the process from project to com­pleted street cruiser rapidly. Hav­ing been hot rod­ded half a cen­tury be­fore, the road­ster needed plenty done, start­ing right from the chas­sis. Mark en­listed the help of Dave Sales at Jalopy Engi­neer­ing to stitch in Shakey Rails box­ing plates to the orig­i­nal chas­sis. Dave also turned his at­ten­tion to the steer­ing arms, which now work in con­junc­tion with new spin­dles hung off a forged ’32 heavy front axle that was dropped four inches by An­son axles. With the plan be­ing to build the car in a salt-flat­sracer style, the rear end also re­ceived plenty of at­ten­tion — most of it pe­riod cor­rect, of course. A ’35 Ford V8 axle hous­ing was sourced, and its tubes and axles fit­ted to a mag­ne­sium Hal­i­brand Cul­ver City quick-change cen­tre. A Model A buggy spring holds it in place, while Houdaille hy­draulic shocks keep the un­wanted bounce to a min­i­mum. Now out of the chas­sis, the en­gine was opened up for the first time in many, many years. Mark was even more im­pressed than he ex­pected to be, find­ing it had been built, all those decades ago, as a race-style mo­tor. He re­assem­bled it us­ing the bare min­i­mum of new parts to keep the en­gine’s pe­riod mods. When those pe­riod parts and mod­i­fi­ca­tions in­clude the valve pock­ets be­ing filled and an off­set ground forged crank be­ing fit­ted, it’s easy to see why you wouldn’t mess with it. The ‘rarer than rock­ing-horse shit’ heads are cast­ing

num­bers 241 and 242, and work in con­junc­tion with Fer­gu­son bil­let roller rock­ers act­ing off a Bul­let Racing cam. While Mark’s grand plan is to fit the gen­uine me­chan­i­cal Hil­born in­jec­tion sys­tem that he’s got, for now, the beau­ti­ful en­gine looks the part with a trio of Stromberg 97 carbs atop a Ken Austin man­i­fold. Like­wise, at some stage, the Mal­lory dual-point dis­trib­u­tor will be re­placed with a rare Ver­tex right-an­gle-drive mag­neto. The driv­e­line was com­plex for the time, fea­tur­ing a Mitchell 27-per-cent-over­drive / di­rect gear split­ter in the torque tube. This ef­fec­tively turns the ’39 three-speed box into a six-speed, of­fer­ing per­fect cruis­ing ra­tios. As Mark is known to drive his cars rather than lock them away as garage show­pieces, those cruis­ing ra­tios were a vi­tal part of the build, as was a non-shiny, non-per­fect body. With this in mind, along with the salt-flats-racer theme, any rust re­pairs the body re­quired were kept vis­i­ble. Although the panel gaps were per­fected, small dents were left alone. Mate Clive Hall helped Mark with the paint side of the build, with both guys laugh­ing that they’d never be­fore sanded off so much of a fresh paint job. The work in­cluded a two-pack red ox­ide primer be­ing sprayed over primer and un­der­coat be­fore be­ing rubbed back and coated with a few lay­ers of satin clear. Once Mark was happy with the look, Clive added the cus­tom art­work — all done by hand, of course. The look works per­fectly with the early smooth Hal­i­brand mag­ne­sium wheels Mark man­aged to find — a find al­most as im­pres­sive as that of the en­gine it­self, as they’d only been on one car over the pre­vi­ous 40 years. They are now wrapped in 5.50x16 and 7.00x16 Stahl Sport tyres, and we’d say the look is bang on. Of course, with plenty more power avail­able than the orig­i­nal banger mo­tor sup­plied, the brakes needed to be up­graded, too, and now rely on Lin­coln drums on all four cor­ners along with a Fal­con mas­ter cylin­der.

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