Scratch-Built Pre-War Speedster

Posted May 14, 2018

By Dean Larson

A friend of mine has a pretty extensive car collection, and while his BMWs and Porsches are second-to-none, one the most exciting cars to drive in his stable is a 1934 Chevrolet Indy car. Its mechanical simplicity and its moderate-speed thrills make it impossible to drive this vehicle without a big grin. Ever since driving that car for the first time, I’ve always day dreamed about building one of my own. And scratch-built cars like this Facebook find make the itch even worse.

Somehow this posting reached me from a small Facebook group called Classic Inline Six Cylinders. The author of the post left a minimal description, but it was more than enough to get the wheels turning in my head again.

“Here's a six-banger for you. Scratch build pre-war race car. All early Ford running gear and a 235 Chevy six.”

Based on the mechanical brake linkage running along the side of the car, we’ll assume this to be pre-war Ford running gear, likely Model A. The engine is indeed a classic inline six, a Chevrolet 235 ci. That engine was used extensively in Chevrolet’s cars and trucks from 1941 to 1962. Depending on the application, the engine made between 123 and 150 horsepower. The 235 ci used here is a fairly sedate version with a single downdraft carb and a pair of freshly TIG-welded exhaust manifolds.

When I see a build like this, all I can think about is how much fun it would be to assemble a car with the same spirit, but based on more easily-sourced parts. The mechanical brakes and Model A suspension add a ton to this car, but you could have a similar finished product with parts that are easier to find. Consider for a moment using a classic pickup truck donor for this project, preferably, older than 1960 and built by one of the major manufacturers.

Scratch Built Speedster2

After a life of hard work and outdoor storage, the tin worm can dwindle the value on running and driving trucks down to just hundreds dollars. You can debate the suitability of the truck’s larger frame rails and axles for the project, but they’re often closer than you’d think. For example, the axles on a 1948 Ford F1 measure 58 inches in the front and 60 in the rear. The overall width of a Ford Model A is 67 inches.

For engine options, you can take your pick of the litter for simple, reliable straight sixes. Take just about any number from 200 to 260 and chances are you’re not far off from a straight-six displacement. Get your hands on a common-enough straight six and the transmission to go with it and powering your custom project should be no sweat.

When it comes time to construct some bodywork for the project, I’d mirror the method used on this Facebook find. Simple curves and simple shapes, fastened together with rivets to take up some slack in the panels if it’s your first time.

I want to reiterate that this isn’t exactly the formula for a serious racer or a show winner of any kind. It’s merely project car thoughts and ramblings, but I think there is some merit to the idea.

Imagine if you get get a few of these cars and friends together for a spirited cruise on your local backroad. Talk about the most fun you can have within the speed limit!

Comments for: Scratch-Built Pre-War Speedster

comments powered by Disqus

Related Stories You Might Like