Snowball’s Ford dirt track racer is still in process, and this week Davin is tackling the wheel hubs. It’s not an overly complicated process, although a bit repetitive. New studs and bearings need to be pressed in and the brake drums need to be cut. With a little help from Randy at the Hagerty Learning Garage, things should go smoothly and these Cerakoted hubs should be ready to get installed back on our race car.

There are certain staples in the Redline Rebuild garage, and dad jokes rank right up at the top of that short list. So, in that tradition, Davin and crew eschew “Hump Day” and labeled last Wednesday “Hub Day.” The whole week seems to revolve around Wednesday sometimes, and we harnessed that energy to make great progress on our 1937 Ford race car. It’s now one step closer to rolling again.

The hubs on this racer are aftermarket pieces from Franklin. This means that the hubs have aluminum brake drums that bolt up to them, while the cast aluminum hubs are merely bearing holders that keep the whole operation concentric. Of course, aluminum brake drums would not last long in a race environment, so there are steel liners pressed in. Before we can shift our focus to those liners, we have to first address the wheel stud that holds the two pieces together.

When the car came to Davin, the front axle had different sized studs then the rear. While functionally acceptable, it makes service a bit of a pain in the butt. For a little additional strength Davin elects to upgrade to 5/8″ studs which means enlarging the holes in the hubs and drums ever so slightly. For the task, he uses the Bridgeport since it has a nice large table and allows for slightly lower drilling rpm. Once the holes are sized properly it is over to the press to shove the studs into their final place.

With the hubs and drums together, it is time to have the CeraKote finish turned off the braking surface. Doing this also ensures the braking surface is centered to the spindle centerline for maximum brake shoe contact. Turning brake drums is less common these days because production of rotors has become relatively affordable and thus, for many applications, it is easier to replace than to resurface brake parts. Luckily the Hagerty Learning Garage has a brake lathe in its small machine shop, and Randy is happy to chuck up the drums for Davin and get them ready for mounting.

All that is going to have to wait though. There is still more suspension work to be finalized before the assembly of either axle. If you want to see this racer come together and hit the track, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and tune in each Monday for more updates.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com.

RockAuto.com is an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit our Help pages for further assistance!

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Cars, much like nature, abhor a vacuum. Word of an empty garage bay at someone’s house has a way of spreading through a local car community. Before long, that small patch of real estate soon houses someone’s project. Someone’s heirloom. Or maybe someone’s secret, hidden from an unsympathetic spouse.

Eric Oberlander experienced this axiom play out in real life, shortly after moving to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2008. Word somehow leaked out into his neighborhood that Oberlander had some garage space that he wasn’t using and, before long, a young neighbor came knocking at his door.

“Any chance I could store my old Bronco project in your garage?” he asked Oberlander.

Eric Oberlander's 1971 Ford Bronco
Aaron McKenzie

At the time, Oberlander knew next to nothing about early Ford Broncos. Growing up in the Washington, D.C., area with a stepfather who was into air-cooled Volkswagens, Oberlander had spent most of his youth bouncing around in the family’s Thing and scavenging local wrecking yards for old Porsche and VW parts, or even full cars—this being a time when old Porsches were just old cars and not collectible titans. (By the time he went off to college, Oberlander was able to sell the 1971 Porsche 911 T he had cobbled together to help pay for his tuition.)

Amid none of these automotive adventures, however, did Oberlander encounter any first-generation Ford Broncos, so when his neighbor started restoring that old SUV in Oberlander’s garage, he was fascinated. New automotive exploration, right before his eyes.

It was, says Oberlander, the beginning of a “passion, an obsession, and a problem” that has started him down a path to his own collection of twenty early Broncos—many of them among the rarest in existence.

Eric Oberlander's 1971 Ford Bronco
Aaron McKenzie

There is, for instance, serial #005, one of the very first 1966 model-year Bronco off the Ford assembly line in August, 1965. Oberlander also owns a U.S. military Bronco that immediately prompts one to ask, “Wait, didn’t the military use Jeeps back in the 1960s?” Well, yes, but for a brief moment, the military’s procurement machine felt that Kaiser Jeep would be more inclined to give the U.S. government a better price on Jeeps if it had to face a little competition. Thus were, at most, 120 military Broncos delivered to Uncle Sam. Jeep ultimately retained their place as the military’s vehicle of choice and these Broncos—which found their way into service around the world, from Panama to Vietnam—lived hard lives that by no means ensured survival.

The crown jewel of Oberlander’s stable is his 1971 s, also known as the “Baja Bronco.” Known for its distinctive orange, blue, and white paint scheme, the Stroppe Broncos were the creation of Bill Stroppe, a California-based off-road racer who made his name at races like the Baja 1000 and who partnered with Ford to build a hot-rodded Bronco, much like Carroll Shelby juiced up Mustangs for the Blue Oval. An estimated 400 Stroppe Broncos were ultimately produced and, short of owning Parnelli Jones’s “Big Oly” Bronco (which recently fetched $1.87 million at a Mecum auction), a Stroppe Bronco is, for many, the pinnacle of Bronco ownership.

Oberlander says his Stroppe Bronco is entirely original, from paint to fender to engine. He bought the truck from the original owner in Boise, Idaho, a man who kept every scrap of paper related to the Bronco and who maintained it with a kind of religious devotion. The result is a survivor that, when he hits the dirt for a day of hunting and fishing with his two young sons, immediately takes Oberlander back to the 1970s.

“I probably baby it a little more than I do my other cars, because it’s so collectible.” says Oberlander, “I’m not going to put it in harm’s way, but I’m definitely not afraid to flog it around and get it covered with mud.”

Oberlander now maintains a side hustle building and restoring old Broncos. Even that, however, doesn’t entirely satisfy his passion for these utilitarian rigs. Eventually, says Oberlander, he’d like to open a Bronco museum to share his passion with others—and to make them aware that these rare models exist.

Some of these Broncos are so rare that no one has ever even heard of them,” says Oberlander. “And for there to be interest in something, people have to be aware that it exists.” Oberlander’s goal: to help people know that these classics exist.

In the meantime, however, Oberlander is content to pile into his Bronco with his sons on a Saturday morning and light out into the Louisiana woods in search of new adventures.

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Dave and Cheri Garvin’s 1929 Ford Model A wagon is more than just metal, wood, tires, wires, and an engine. It’s a daily reminder of Cheri’s dad, Bob Mathers. Not only was the car Bob’s favorite classic vehicle, working on it together strengthened the family bond. Now the Garvins are sharing the automotive passion.

“We always had antique cars,” Cheri says in our latest Why I Drive video. “My dad would buy them in bushel baskets and put them together… [He] was always buying and selling… When you see pictures of us as kids, we’re always standing next to an old car. We used to joke that if the price was high enough, he’d sell us too.”

“He always wanted a woody wagon, and he eventually bought one from a guy who was in an antique automobile club in Boyne City [Michigan],” Dave says. “We worked on it together whenever we’d come up [from Traverse City] for the weekend.”

1929 Ford Model A Woodie
1929 Ford Model A Woodie

1929 Ford Model A Woodie

It was during those many months that the Model A also became Dave’s favorite. After Cheri’s parents passed away within three years of each other, there was no question which one of Bob’s 11 classic vehicles they wanted to hang onto.

“Knowing that I helped with it and knowing that [we’ll] keep it in the family, I think that’s the most fun [thing] about it,” Dave says.

There’s more to operating a Model A than simply jumping inside, turning the key, and driving away. As Cheri explains, “You have to turn on the gas, and then you have to do the spark and mess with the levers and pull out the choke… so [there’s] quite a bit of action getting everything going to get it started. But it starts right up.”

Once on the road, Dave warns that the Model A doesn’t have hydraulic brakes—it has standard mechanical brakes. “You don’t follow too close, because you can push as hard as you can [on the pedal] and it doesn’t stop right away. So we kind of stay back.” Top speed is about 50 mph… downhill.

1929 Ford Model A Woodie

Of course, driving the car isn’t about comfort or speed.

“It’s fun to watch people as you drive by,” Cheri says. “And just the history is so cool—that you get to drive something that’s 90 years old.”

“You’d be surprised how many people wave at ya, beep the horn at ya,” Dave says. “Little kids wave at ya.”

The Garvins drove the Model A to visit Dave’s mother in assisted living, and it turned into an event that the other residents also enjoyed. “They all came out, [and we] gave them a ride,” Dave says. “They were all excited because they remember that kind of car and how it starts, or they remember the ooga horn. That’s why the door is always open, because we want people to enjoy the car, young or old.”

Just as Bob Mathers would have wanted.

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If there’s one simple truth, it’s this: Days you drive that special car are better than days you don’t. Maybe it’s not the fastest, cleanest, or even most reliable car. But it’s yours. And every time you turn the key and hear that engine roar to life, something fantastic happens.

Whether it’s hot laps around the local track or a slow Sunday cruise with the family to load up on ice cream, your car is the place you make memories. This is “Why I Drive”—and this is at the heart of Hagerty’s new video series of the same name, which debuts today.

In Episode 1 we meet Eric Dean, who spent three years hand-building a replica of his dream machine, Ford’s iconic GT40. The build was a bit of a struggle at times, “but once it was done, it was one of the most satisfying things in my life.”

Eric calls his car “uncivilized, rowdy, and loud”—so much so that he wears ear plugs whenever he drives it—while at the same time he finds it “peaceful” and “meditative.” Those terms, as we all know, are not mutually exclusive. Yes, there is calm to be found in the storm of a raucous machine, as Eric knows full well.

He didn’t build the GT40 tribute to be a show car; he built it to drive…to feel. Mission accomplished.

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