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By this route, the roadster acquired an engine. But there was one problem, good old Hayward had stuck me with a block whose pistons were seized in their cylinders. A tear down revealed enough damage that a cube increasing rebore was inescapable. I had an uncle in Pontiac, MI and he got me a set of Jahns solid skirts 1/8 oversize. I did the rebuild myself, with help from friends, and the Olds became approximately the same internal size as a Hemi. The only other modification was dual exhausts accomplished by brazing large electrical conduit tubing into the stock exhaust manifolds.

I would have liked a smooth hood, maybe louvered, but the Olds proved to tall. I toyed with the idea of exposed carbs (4?) but settled for a bubble and scoop. This involved a second brazing rod grille and a rear bubble section from a 1936 Ford headlight shell. No proper hood sides were ever fabricated. The ones that were on, and off, the car, for so many years, were temporaries, cobbled up by Arney, I think for the club’s first car show, then never updated. I thought they had come from a 1935 Ford truck, but I never saw the donor…and I hated them.

The body was stretched over the ’32 chassis then bolted to the frame bottom. Rubber insulator strips from a printing press attempting to eliminate squeaks. Unfortunately, when frame-fitted, the door posts on the rear quarters splayed outward at the top. This caused the doors to have about a 2 inch gap at the bottom when closed. The way this was solved was the only thing on the car that I wasn’t poud of. We arc welded a length of square tubing, inside each upright post. It was tacked at the bottom, to the outside of the frame and at the top to the inside body lips. During welding we squeezed the sides together with a carpenter’s clamp. It wasn’t a goo thing to do, but it seems to have lasted, and not caused any cracks, for some 40 years.

When it was first near running order the guys in our club were much preoccupied with a guy named Fowler. He probably bothered us because he was a loner. He had a ’34 Ford roadster cowl grafted onto a ’32 roadster body which was widened (!) and channelled over a ’34 frame. Up front was a great honking Hemi. He had the doors welded shut and he had so much lead slathered on them, to try to smooth them, that I once asked him what he used for a mold. Anyway, he was a challenge and we determined to drag my roadster against his. Neither, at this point, finished.


A rush to completion was on. Frank Rowe, in our club, wanted to improve my chances. He loaned me his Chet Herbert roller cam, dual quad intake manifold and Mallory Magspark ignition. We were serious. As the moment of truth approached we couldn’t wait to hear our Rocket running. It had not turned a rev yet. Let’s go! One problem, we have no throttle pedal, or throttle linkage of any kind. Never mind let’s crank her up! A chain was attached to the front nerf and the back of one of the guy’s cars. Up the street we went. The clutch was engaged, she was put in gear, and the clutch was let out. Good oil pressure, looks safe to fire her up. We hadn’t got around to installing an ignition key so two dangling wires behind the dash were wound together and the ampmeter dutifully registered ‘contact.’ Away we go again under tow, I let out the clutch and she murmers into perfect life. The tow car stoop as little kids come running from every direction. They mill around in increasing numbers while the tow chain is unbolted. The Rocket 88 maintaining a quick rough idle. The chain is off  and I attempt to move. We’ve rigged a piece of ordinary white string from the rear carb, over the cowl, under the windshield and into my “free” hand. The crowd clears and little, I let out the clutch and the cold engine cougs and near stalls. I yank the string, and both carbs snap stuck wide open! The ear piercing screech of the engine peaks then explodes!!! All too fast to undo (untangle) the ignition wires, and too many kids around to drop the clutch and load the mill. Horrific silence. Three rods went out through the oil pan. Years of work and “life” savings gone.

We never did race Fowler and I’m not even sure his roadster ever ran. I never saw or heard of it again. I sold the remains of the engine to a club member who replaced 3 pistons and then ran it in a Kellison fibreglass sports coupe. Luckily Frank’s cam wasn’t hurt. But it was a long time before my next stock block rumbled into life. I kept the oil pan, shrapnel holds and all, and ran it for a while, patched inside. It sure spooked nosey Parkers who climbed under to sneak a peek.

(Editor’s note: The story ends with Davies selling the car not once, but twice, first in 1958 and then again after buying it back and getting it running he sold it again in about 1960. He would buy it back again in 1999 and it remains in the family.)



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