REVIVALIST.

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Roddin’ Scene -

“There’s some­thing mag­i­cal about a car that’s built en­tirely from old parts. It’s like a time ma­chine of sorts,” says Andy Kohler, hot rod­ding devo­tee and owner of Kohler Kus­tom ( kohlerkus­tom.

com) in Wil­liamsport, Penn­syl­va­nia. “I’ve al­ways felt that build­ing and driv­ing a hot rod is a way to re­claim some­thing lost in the name of progress.”

Andy has forged a name in hot rod­ding over the last decade, fabri­cat­ing pe­riod-per­fect parts and build­ing top-notch hot rods at his ex­ten­sive shop, which re­sides off the beaten path in the quiet hills of the Key­stone State. Walk­ing into Andy’s garage/lab­o­ra­tory is like blaz­ing through a worm­hole in time, putting you back in a pe­riod of his­tory that lies some­where be­tween the Treaty of Versailles and the Korean con­flict.

Vin­tage tools are plen­ti­ful (and used ex­ten­sively) in his shop, and there are al­ways sev­eral hot rods be­ing worked on. His work is well known in tra­di­tional hot rod­ding cir­cles, and he’s got a world­wide fol­low­ing. “I’m just start­ing on my fourth hot rod that will go to Switzer­land,” he says.

As he points out, the craft of hot rod­ding as we know it is an ever-chang­ing en­tity. “The term ‘tra­di­tional hot rod’ has de­vi­ated from its ini­tial mean­ing as we’ve ad­vanced. The once cut-and­dried de­scrip­tion is start­ing to take on an­other mean­ing as time moves on and the main­stream em­braces the hobby.” The per­cep­tion of the hobby has changed with the resur­gence of roots hot

rod­ding through ma­jor high-vis­i­bil­ity, high-in­ten­sity shows pop­ping up across the globe.

It’s through well-at­tended and -cov­ered events like The Race of Gen­tle­men where tra­di­tional hot rod­ding has now merged into the main­stream. The once un­der­ground event, built on the sands of the New Jersey beach­front, has gained a huge fol­low­ing, due not only to the re­newed in­ter­est in build­ing orig­i­nal-style hot rods, but also be­cause of the fact that the event is a feast for the senses. Au­rally bois­ter­ous, hyp­not­i­cally rum­bling, and a fes­ti­val for the eyes, The Race of Gen­tle­men has be­come a main­stay for many hot-rod-hun­gry con­sumers.

Andy has cer­tainly done his share to make TROG suc­ceed and helped make sure the sto­ried past is not for­got­ten. He’s one of the many vin­tage car afi­ciona­dos not only help­ing to keep the hot rod hobby healthy, but also striv­ing to keep it mov­ing for­ward. Since day one, he’s par­tic­i­pated with TROG, ini­tially mak­ing the nine­hour trek in a hard-chopped ’34 Ford from his past home­town of Buf­falo to the sands of the Jersey Shore for a day of rac­ing.

Fuel to the Flames

Andy has pi­loted sev­eral crazy-cool hot rods at past TROG events, in­clud­ing a ’34 coupe, a Model T lakes racer, and a su­per­charged ’32 three-win­dow. For the 2018 event, his ride was def­i­nitely one for the ages. “I guess I am hung up on the aes­thet­ics of 1946-1954era land-speed rac­ers, and this car is ba­si­cally a col­lec­tion of ideas pulled from a few of my fa­vorite cars from that pe­riod.”

“Rac­ing on sand is kinda like pi­lot­ing a boat: You just point the car in the gen­eral di­rec­tion you want to go and hope for the best.”—andy Kohler

This par­tic­u­lar car was first thrashed to­gether in just a few short months for TROG 2016. For this year, how­ever, the low-slung road­ster has gone through a few im­prove­ments. Race or­ga­niz­ers like to see new cars at the show ev­ery year and rec­om­mend that re­peat driv­ers ei­ther build new cars or at least mod­ify their last one. That was Andy’s mo­ti­va­tion for the changes.

The car’s his­tory with Andy goes back five years. “I had just sold my ’34 coupe, and I wanted to build a road­ster.” He put a want ad up on the H.A.M.B. and im­me­di­ately got a re­sponse. “It was in Detroit, it was rough and in 10 pieces. But the price was right, so a deal was struck.”

When Andy fi­nally got the road­ster body home, it had all the tell­tale signs of be­ing a hot rod at one point. What was left on the sub­rails was raised to ac­com­mo­date a chan­nel job, the rear sec­tion was cut out to fit a Z’d frame of some sort, and the back fend­ers had been raised.

Andy built a nice chas­sis for the Model A body. Start­ing with an orig­i­nal ’32 frame, he added a ’37 cen­ter X-mem­ber along with Model A front and rear cross­mem­bers. Andy took lit­tle time turn­ing the car into a roller, but then his at­ten­tion was drawn to some­thing else he couldn’t live with­out: a set of orig­i­nal Ar­dun heads. He sold the car to fund his pur­chase of the rare race parts with­out a sec­ond thought.

A cou­ple of years later, the buddy he sold the body to needed a quick cash in­fu­sion, so he called Andy back and of­fered him the body. He had the cash and the space, so he bought it back in early 2016, just in time for a short but spir­ited build to make that year’s TROG.

At this point, Andy had enough parts to fab­ri­cate a new chas­sis for the road­ster and pow­ered it with a 255-inch flat­head. An 11-inch truck clutch joins the en­gine to the gears in a ’39 Ford trans­mis­sion, which in turn spin a Mike Moore–built quickchang­e rear.

For TROG 2018, Andy mounted a set of Ford wide-five wheels, the rears be­ing ul­tra-rare 16x5.5 pieces. These wide hoops were once used on Mar­mon Her­ring­ton 4x4 con­ver­sions. The rims are shod with Tor­nell 7.00x16s out back and Ex­cel­sior 5.50x16s up front. Andy also changed out the MG steer­ing wheel he used in the past to a ’40 Ford wheel and added ’47 Ford juice brakes up front (the ’16 ver­sion did not have front brakes).

• WORDS & PICS: SCOTTY LACHENAUER • CAR: ANDY KOHLER

for a run on> Andy Kohler waits at The Race of the Jersey Shore closely and you’ll Gen­tle­men. Look2018 is­sue’s cover spot our Sept. Gene ’32 road­ster, with car, Rob Ida’s seat, be­hind Kohler’s Winfield in the’30 Model A road­ster.

> Andy at speed in his dry-lakes-in­spired road­ster over the slip­pery sands of Wild­wood dur­ing TROG 2018. He took styling cues from sev­eral notable cars for the road­ster, in­clud­ing the his­toric Khougaz ’32 lakes road­ster. His ride is chan­neled 6 inches over the Z’d frame to help get its alu­minum belly to hover just over the sand.

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