The "lakes or dirt track?" debate concerning the origin of hot rod "nose art" could be compared to the eternal "chicken or the egg?" question. While an aerodynamic, wind-cheating, custom handformed nose makes total sense on a hot rod running for top speed on the lakebed, the same sleek and delicate nose doesn't make the same sense on a rough-and-tumble dirt track racer. So was it the lakes or the dirt oval that first saw use of the traditional "track nose"? We may never completely answer that question, but it's undeniable that one of the best ever track noses was worn by the Pierson Brothers' historic lakes racing coupe.
Dale Renner personally blurs the legend of the hot rod nose himself, as he used both his own influence as a former Sprint Car racer along with a deep fondness for the aforementioned Pierson Brothers' famous proboscis in the buildup of his '33 Ford roadster. Starting with the battered remains of a heavily modified dirt track jalopy racer, Dale bravely met the challenge head on. It helped greatly that Dale was also an accomplished rod builder and had, for many years, owned and operated his own body shop.
After getting over the initial shock of the actual body condition, Dale began the process of putting the roadster back on the right "track" with an owner-fabricated frame made from 2x2-inch steel square tubing. Following the lines of the body, the graceful frame was stretched to give the roadster an additional 2 inches of wheelbase. Dale created the look of a bellypan by cutting 8-inch tubing in quarters and added the pieces to the bottom edge of the frame. A Magnum 4-inch dropped I-beam mounts up front with the help of a spring from Eaton Detroit and a pair of split and chromed '37 Ford wishbones. A pair of Wilwood calipers handles braking duties and Granada rotors expertly hidden behind a pair of chromed '40 Ford backing plates and homemade scoops.
Under the rear is decidedly more vintage with an original Halibrand quick-change centersection mounted between a pair of '36 axle housings attached to '36 wishbones. Brakes out back are a pair of '40 Ford hydraulics mounted on each side of an Eaton Detroit Model A-style spring.
While just about any mill would fit in the engine compartment of his '33, only one would fit the bill for Dale, and that could only be a healthy Ford Flathead. Starting with a rebuildable '53 Ford block and 4-inch Mercury crank, Dale left the engine rebuilding chores to John's Automotive Machine. The JAM team used all fresh internal parts from Motor City Flathead and sealed it up with a pair of Offenhauser heads and a matching 3x2 intake mounted with a trio of rebuilt 97 carbs from Jerry Jobe. Behind the retro rev-maker is a Ford Top Loader manual trans fitted with a Jeep top-shifter conversion mated to a '36 Ford stick.
The body that got the whole project started almost ended it when the true condition of the ex-jalopy was fully realized. At one point the doors had been mercilessly welded shut with a gas welder as well as the many scars left from battle on dirt ovals. Lucky for this worn veteran, Dale's many years of owing his own body shop would mean he could not only save the sheetmetal, but his skills could in fact make the roadster a thing of incredible beauty. With the doors opened back up, the jambs were repaired with pieces from a sedan and then a clever 3 inches was removed from the total length of the body right behind the doors. This shortening of the body would allow for a lengthening of the nose without giving the car a stretched appearance. A reproduction hood from Rootlieb bridges the gap between the owner-build nose and the massaged '33 body. After the final nips and tweaks, like the owner-built hood splash panels and a 3 1/2-inch extended rear panel below the decklid, many coats of DuPont black paint were laid down by Dale. The scallops were sprayed in a rich red hue originally found in the Rolls Royce chip book. Finishing off the exterior and making it that much more unique is an owner-built one-off windshield frame and a set of 16-inch steelies, modified to use a set of '33 Ford hubcaps.