A friend of mine keeps telling me that many of the caretakers or car owners are passing on and many of their children really don’t have an interest in the old car hobby. All along I’ve agreed with him, but really never thought about it until just recently.
So our street rod club is on an outing cruising the countryside in scenic central Wisconsin and end up in a bar/restaurant in a tiny hamlet known for its downhill skiing and sledding during the winter (Shop time) season. Everyone is busy eating their hamby and drinking soda when this guy (Larry) comes in to pick up a carry out pizza and says “nice cars out front”. Everyone looks at him and nods with a thank you! Then the guy says “anyone looking for a project car ’36 Ford Roadster with a Hemi in it?”. I’m the only one who stops eating and goes over to talk to him and take him seriously.
We get his name and telephone number and call him the next day for a look see.
The 40 mile trip seemed longer than it really was, as I am an eternal pessimist and had visions of some really rusty coupe with the roof cut off with a torch, and a seized up small block chevy.
The road leading up to Larry’s home was a sandy path that got smaller the further I drove in. By the time I got to his house, it was just two small paths for my truck tires with grass rubbing on the front bumper.
Good thing I brought the camera, because no one would have believed it otherwise. There deep in the woods, it’s the real deal. Buried in a small floorless tin shed overgrown with trees for over 30 years was this old hot rod project that someone started, but never finished.
The car was in incredibly good shape probably due to the sand soil that the car was sitting on. The car was blocked from getting out to the overhead doorway by a Jaguar dual overhead cam engine and a Mopar 440/Torqueflite. The interior held many cool parts including an original ’32 Ford Grill shell. Now this guy seemed to think it was worth $10K and I didn’t. I threw out an offer, and Larry said I’ll think about it and call you in a couple of days.
I was on pins and needles for 2 days until he called me to tell me my offer wasn’t high enough. So after some negotiating and counteroffers’, we came to an agreement over the phone.
I told Larry that I would call him in a week or so about picking up the car, but I couldn’t wait. I called him up 2 days later and offered to come up and pay him and take all the contents from inside the car home. He took me up on the deal, and I felt a lot better after I got a bill of sale in exchange for the cash.
After we loaded up all the lose contents, it was time to check my cheat sheet on Hemi numbers to see if it was the granddaddy of ‘50s Hemi’s. Larry scraped off years of grease and read the numbers to me, and was I surprised to see that it was the big one. This was the 392 four barrel engine which put out 325 HP in 1957. Don Garlits made many runs down the 1320 pushed by one of these elephant motors.
We went back about a week later with help in the form of my wife, daughter (camera person), Son-in-law and my grandson.
Larry removed the end of the building adjacent to the road he had cleared. It was a job to push the car out, turn it, and drag it through the sand, around stumps and trees in 90 degree weather. But with the help of an old John Deere skid steer, it was well worth the sweat and work!
The deal was that Larry bought property adjacent to his with the legal agreement that all the owners “Stuff” be gone by a certain date or it would go to the new owner. The date had come and gone and all the stuff was still there.
There were a few things on this car that made me wonder about its past history. I did some measuring and it appears that the car has a 2” chopped windshield and the door holes for the handles had been leaded in maybe back in the 50’s. I also found newspaper clippings on the inside that put the car in the Milwaukee area back in the 50’s and 60’s. There is NO bondo in the car, only lead. I sure wish this car could talk!
After doing tons of research on ’36 Roadsters, we are finding out that there is not a lot of companies out there making wood kits for a low production car like this. If they only made 3800 or so, it is possible that there might only be 10% or 380 left. So it’s off to another friends shop, who has a ’36 Roadster, to take pictures.
It’s all about the research, figuring out all the details on what’s missing, and the search for all those missing parts which might as well be made from unabtainium.
Now the fun starts. To be continued!