AUTO SHOP TROG COUPE

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Roddin’ @ Random -

Un­for­tu­nately, it of­ten seems to me that we are clos­ing the sta­ble door af­ter the horse has bolted when we try to force-feed young peo­ple a diet of old car culture, es­pe­cially hot rods. I feel like we’re buggy whip mak­ers crack­ing on for the last sale when re­ally we should be look­ing ahead, in our case to al­ter­na­tive means of propul­sion.

Don’t get me wrong, I love hot rods and all the ways we find to en­joy them. How­ever, I am un­der no il­lu­sion that we are not an en­dan­gered species. That said, I am en­cour­aged by all the ef­forts be­ing made to ex­pose young folks to the joys of en­gi­neer­ing in all its forms, be­cause not only are we short of auto me­chan­ics, we’re short of peo­ple to do any­thing with their hands. Just watch an episode of This Old House and lis­ten to the con­trac­tors talk of the lack of young peo­ple learn­ing a trade.

All across the coun­try, and even in other coun­tries, there are in­sti­tu­tions try­ing to fill the void. It was there­fore re­fresh­ing to hear through David Steele, di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can

Hot Rod Foun­da­tion, about Jonathan Ruvio, an auto shop in­struc­tor at Great Neck South High School in Great Neck, New York. Seems that Jon, aided by a group of his auto shop stu­dents, raced a school-built hot rod at The Race of Gen­tle­men (TROG) and did rather well.

Jon has al­ways been into hot rods and build­ing cars. When in 2011 he be­gan work as an au­to­mo­tive ed­u­ca­tor, he im­me­di­ately wanted to build cool cars with his stu­dents. To get the wheels rolling he started an af­ter-school club called The Rebel Car Club. They built a hot 350 for an ’80 Z28 and sub­se­quently worked on Jon’s ’67 Pon­tiac GTO. How­ever, in 2015 the club em­barked on an am­bi­tious plan to have some pur­pose to its ef­forts. Af­ter watch­ing some videos of the event, they de­cided to build a race car for TROG.

Club mem­bers wanted to build a banger-pow­ered chopped Model A coupe. Af­ter search­ing the In­ter­net for a suit­able donor can­di­date, they even­tu­ally found one, but it was way out west in Ne­vada. And when it ar­rived, the “find” turned about to be less than golden. There was no top, at all. No hood, grille shell, deck­lid or rear fend­ers. The body, cov­ered with many lay­ers of primer to hide the dam­age, was cracked all the way down on both sides. The rear axle was bent, and the car would hop when pushed around the park­ing lot. It didn’t run. It didn’t stop, ei­ther. Noth­ing worked or was cor­rect on the car.

Un­per­turbed, the stu­dents got to work re­build­ing ev­ery­thing from the rear axle to the en­gine. They fixed up the body, licked it with paint, and just made the 2016 TROG event. They got beaten in ev­ery race but went home en­thused rather than de­pressed, vow­ing to re­turn the fol­low­ing year.

Know­ing they needed more power, they turned to Max Her­man Jr. at H&H An­tique in La Cres­centa, Cal­i­for­nia. “I was raised in a world with only four cylin­ders,” Max said. “So, if I can help some kids en­joy the beauty of bangers, I will.” Max han­dled all the ma­chine work on a new block and threw in a Win­field cam to spur the team on. When the en­gine re­turned, the stu­dents added a Lion Speed cylin­der head and a brace of Stromberg 97 carbs.

They also re­built the trans­mis­sion, fet­tled the body some more, im­proved the brakes, and re­turned to the sands of Wild­wood in 2017. Look­ing a whole lot bet­ter with its chopped top, black paint, and rac­ing en­gine, No. 78 fared well in front of the crowd that in­cluded club ad­vi­sors and school of­fi­cials. In­deed, the whole project was such a suc­cess, the club is now em­bark­ing on a more am­bi­tious project: to repli­cate Corvette de­signer Larry Shin­oda’s Chop­sticks Spe­cial Model A road­ster. In fact, Jon’s new fi­ancé, Natalie, bought him the road­ster af­ter he pro­posed to her at TROG. What a gal.

(For those who don’t re­mem­ber, Shin­oda, a Ja­panese-amer­i­can in­terned as a child dur­ing WWII, de­signed the ’59 Chevy, ’63 Corvette, the Mako Shark, and the Boss 302 Mus­tang as well as the Boss 429. He had just started work­ing for Ford in Detroit in 1955 when he took the road­ster clear to Kansas for the in­au­gu­ral Na­tional Cham­pi­onship Drag Races at Great Bend. Run­ning in the A/hot Road­ster class, he won with a very cred­i­ble speed of 125.69 mph. Larry built the Shin­oda & Pow­ers Chop­sticks Spe­cial IV while he was in high school and pow­ered it with a C-T Au­to­mo­tive-built Ar­dun OHV.)

For Jon and his stu­dents—sal An­ge­laras, Deep Datta, Chris Barulic, Daniel Ben­nett, John Bron­cado, Dan Bron­stein, Ben Co­hen, Char­lie Jud­son, Toe, Tim Sa­muel, and Erick Zizic— and mem­bers of the Rebel Car Club, it has been a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of not only car build­ing but also team­work and the un­ri­valed emo­tions of go­ing rac­ing, win or lose.

The Club would also like to thank Mel Stultz and the en­tire TROG crew for let­ting them race and be part of the event; Max Her­man Jr. and H&H An­tique for help with the en­gine; Bill D. Plumber for help sourc­ing old Ford parts; fel­low high school teach­ers Neil Miller and Don Schafer for their in­valu­able help; David and Aaron Munt­ner of the lo­cal NAPA auto parts; and, of course, the Great Neck High School Prin­ci­pals Su­san El­liot and Dr. Gitz for en­abling this great project. —TONY THACKER

SCENE AT THE 2017 MOONEYES XMAS PARTY

In its Jan­uary 2018 is­sue, HOT ROD Deluxe an­nounced that Ir­win­dale Event Cen­ter—the home of a dragstrip in­au­gu­rated in 2001—would cease op­er­a­tion in early 2018. As you may al­ready know (or read a few pages back), Ir­win­dale’s ex­e­cu­tion was stayed, thanks to the ef­forts of a group of lo­cal hot rod­ders band­ing to­gether to keep the track open for the fore­see­able fu­ture. But when our friends at Mooneyes, led by Shige Su­ganuma and Chico Ko­dama, staged the 2017 Mooneyes Xmas Party, ev­ery­one in­volved be­lieved it would be the fi­nal Mooneyes event at the venue.

It seems that en­thu­si­asts felt the urge to visit the beloved venue for what they thought would be one last time, turn­ing out in droves at the gates as early as 3 a.m. Ul­ti­mately, more than 1,500 ve­hi­cles and 15,000 vis­i­tors joined the or­ga­nized may­hem, to en­joy a busy sched­ule of ac­tiv­i­ties. Mooneyes’ ex­trav­a­ganza is a great way to sam­ple Socal’s cus­tom car culture, as it mixes a most eclec­tic ar­ray of cool rides: hot rods, kus­toms, lowrid­ers, vans, mus­cle cars, air-cooled VWS, and more ape-han­g­erequipped mo­tor­cy­cles than we’ve seen in a long time. It looks like some bik­ers chose to at­tend the Mooneyes show rather than the Chop­per­fest that was sched­uled for the same week­end, but can­celed due to the ter­ri­ble fires dan­ger­ously close to the event’s venue in Ven­tura.

The Xmas Party also of­fered a huge ven­dor area, which en­abled the crowd to buy new car parts, art­work, vintage cloth­ing, even hair­cuts. Mooneyes had an im­pres­sive booth, of course, to pro­mote its di­verse prod­uct line, some go­ing as far back as the com­pany’s early days when Dean Moon opened shop in 1962. The same part of the ven­dor area was home to the stage used by sev­eral in­vited bands and, later, by the al­wayspop­u­lar Pinup Con­test.

The Mooneyes Xmas Party is more than a static show. Some folks came to watch—and par­tic­i­pate in—the Run-whatchabrung drag races, which once again com­bined a vast range of cars and a hand­ful of bikes. The A/FX sideshow, led in part by gasser guru Dale Snoke, proved en­ter­tain­ing as usual with plenty of wild wheel­ies.

As of this writ­ing we don’t know what Mooneyes’ plans are for its 2018 Xmas Party or Mother’s Day show. We will let you know as soon as we do.

—STEPHAN SZANTAI

FUN IN THE SUN: With un­sea­son­ably warm tem­per­a­tures in the 80s, vis­i­tors came by the thou­sands to see great rides in the vein of Robert Ro­jas’ trick ’31 Ford road­ster (left). The venue quickly filled with spec­ta­tors’ cars as well. By mid-morn­ing, the...

• PICS: STEPHAN SZANTAI

PACKED PACKED: Oh yes, it got crowded. In fact, we don’t re­mem­ber such a turnout at Ir­win­dale since Mooneyes adopted the site in 2006. The awning on the right cov­ered Mooneyes’ booth, while bands played on the left. (They in­cluded Dyno­tones, Hot Rod...

FUN IN THE SUN

NEXT UP: The TROG racer turned out so well that the club got the green light to work on a more am­bi­tious project, a trib­ute to the Model A road­ster that Larry Shin­oda raced at the NHRA Nats in 1955. NEXT UP

READY FOR WILD­WOOD HOT ON THE SAND: Jon han­dled driv­ing du­ties at TROG 2017. The No. 78 made ev­ery­one happy, from Jon and his stu­dents to school of­fi­cials and the club’s ad­vi­sor. HOT ON THE SAND

UN­DAUNTED UN­DAUNTED: Seiz­ing on an in­valu­able teach­ing mo­ment, in­struc­tor Jon Ruvio had his shop stu­dents jump feet first into the Model A’s re­birth. Class mem­bers did ev­ery­thing from re­build­ing the frame from the ground up to body­work and...

BUILD­ING BLOCK

PICS: JON RUVIO

SOME FIND: The auto shop stu­dents at Great Neck South High School in New York learned a valu­able les­son about buy­ing a project ve­hi­cle over the In­ter­net when their Model A ar­rived from Ne­vada. What wasn’t bro­ken was bent.

GEAR­HEADS: The suc­cess of the event should be at­trib­uted in part to the nu­mer­ous car clubs on­site. The Gear­heads dis­played a hand­ful of ex­cel­lent hot rods, such as Rick Tokiyeda’s ’25 Model T (left), flanked by a trio of ’28’29 Model As driven by...

CALORI CAR: In the fore­ground, you can ad­mire the GMC six that pro­pels the Ia­cono drag­ster, equipped with a 12-port Wayne head and Hil­born in­jec­tion. The ve­hi­cle shares the space with Billy Crewl’s Model A on 1932 rails, an ac­cu­rate trib­ute to Jack...

ALL THERE: What a great look­ing hot rod! Chopped top, Deuce grille, no hood, triple 97 carbs: It’s all there. Peter Ro­driguez drove from nearby Azusa in his 1930 Ford, which made some waves in the Suede Palace at the 2017 Grand Na­tional Road­ster Show....

GASSER FOR SALE GASSER FOR SALE: If you had $26,500 burn­ing a hole in your pocket, you could have pur­chased this frame-off-built ’30 Model A, which hints at the 1960s gasser scene and oc­ca­sion­ally ran at Ir­win­dale. In­ter­est­ing fea­tures in­clude a 383ci...

HIS­TORIC RAILS HIS­TORIC RAILS: Long­time jour­nal­ist Pat Ganahl (who’s now re­tired and very happy about it) has been the owner of the Ike Ia­cono drag­ster since 1988, though he com­pleted its restora­tion much later, with help from var­i­ous he­roes of the...

DIRTY DIRTY: Dubbed “The Dirty Farm Truck,” Jeff Martin’s pickup has a unique ap­pear­ance, cour­tesy of a heavy chan­nel job, sui­cide­mounted I-beam, and un­usual choice of wheels. It first sat on 16-inch rims, later re­placed with tall, 21-inch wires, plus...

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