It's gone now. Chris Casny's '27 Nash/Ford (it's really a little bit of everything) roadster, well known in Southern California just as, "the boattail," has been sold to a Texas collector and is off to the Lone Star State.
For the past year and a half, Chris' completely handbuilt car has been spotted at just about every traditional hot rod event around--from the the West Coast Kustoms Cruisin' Nationals in Paso Robles to Back to the Beach and the Primer Nationals in Ventura. But even before then, the roadster was known worldwide on the Internet. Participants on the Jalopy Journal's HAMB message board witnessed the boattail's progress from conception to completion, and even contributed to its creation.
The cowl was purchased at the Pomona swap meet two years ago, and was the starting point for the whole car (and the single piece of Nash sheetmetal on it). At the time, Chris didn't know what it was from, so he posted a photo on the HAMB and soon had his answer.
The rear of the car really is no boattail at all, but the hood from a '52 F-1 panel truck that Chris had driven in the past. Just about everything in between is completely handcrafted. There was no long planning period and no concept illustrations, he told us. Every detail moved from imagination to fabrication as quickly as he could make it happen. "Once I cut up the hood and cowl there was no turning back," he said. "I knew people were going to either love it or hate it. I was never that guy who takes the safe road."
Although Chris did all the work, he is quick to give credit--and thanks--to the many HAMB members who helped with encouragement and technical assistance. "Without these guys I could not have done it. When I had a problem, they would give me advice. When I needed motivation, they gave me a good kick in the butt and told me to continue building. Thanks brothers and sisters." In return for the free advice, Chris reciprocated by posting photographs of the ongoing project and providing step-by-step information on how he built a lot of the pieces.
The one-man, nine-month, $9,000, one-of-a-kind roadster was finished just in time for the Back to the Beach show in the spring of 2007. Since then we've seen Chris and the boattail all over the place--and finally got to shoot this feature just days before the car headed to Texas.
"This was the first time I built a car from scratch and it was a real struggle," Chris admitted, "but it was worth it. The amount of pride you have when you drive a car you worked so hard for is amazing. And I can safely say, I did not just assemble this car, I built it!"
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Owner contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
1927 Nash Homebuilt Boattail
You can't buy frames for '27 Nash/Ford hood boattail roadsters from the aftermarket, so Chris had to build his own from 2x3, 1/8-inch wall tubing. The rails are Z'd in the back to drop the body over the '86 Ford 8.8-inch rearend, with 3.73:1 gears, hanging on a set of coilovers. The friction shocks we saw on the front of the car at its debut in Ventura have been replaced with the tubular variety on a Super Bell frontend. His cowl steering system uses a late-Sixties Dodge Dart manual box and a homebuilt column and cool-looking pitman arm. Front discs and rear drums do the stopping.
As with everything else on the boattail, Chris built the Ford 302 engine, retaining the stock internals and feeding fuel and air through a single Edelbrock 600cfm four-barrel on an Offenhauser 360-degree intake manifold, and firing the mixture with an electronic ignition. That custom Nash air cleaner cover was a hubcap in a former life; the valve covers are from Cal Custom. The zoomie headers are packed with homemade baffles built from 1-inch diameter 16-gauge, punched with a pneumatic chisel. The '92 Ford AOD transmission, built by Larry at Crabtree Automatics in Burbank, is one piece Chris didn't build or modify himself--although using an old water pump handle for a shifter was his idea.
Wheels & Tires
The Moon Saturn discs were snap-ons before Chris removed the clips and machined them down to fit. He drilled and tapped into the 16-inch Ford steelies and attached each cover with three aircraft fasteners. The rims are reversed, so the valve stems are accessible on the inner side. The skinny Firestone bias-plies are 6.00s and 7.50s.
Body & Paint
The '27 Nash cowl in front and the rear-facing '52 Ford panel truck hood in back establish the shape of the roadster body. The fabricated sheetmetal shell was constructed around a 3/4-inch square tube frame that Chris created. During construction, the roadster had owner-built operable doors, but when his wife, Gloria, got in by stepping over the doors, Chris decided to weld them shut. The grille is believed to be a from a Twenties-era International Harvester tractor. The '59 Cadillac taillights were contoured into the rear, with Dietz headlights added in front. The Jaguar gas filler cap and the ornament on the deck were selected because they fit the contours, and the overall style of the car. Chris shot everything in monochrome silver basecoat. The windshield posts draw a lot of attention wherever the car goes. Chris says he couldn't find Hallock-style posts that would work with the cowl so, being a furniture maker by trade, he decided to carve his own posts out of mahogany.
Chris built the seats from half-inch plywood, working from cardboard templates, then adding the webbing, foam, and batting. The covers are made of green waterproof tarp material from an army surplus store--all attached with staples and glue. Gloria taught him how to use a sewing machine so he could stitch up the door panel pockets, decorated with embroidered emblems from Nash apparel. The sanitary dash contains only a speedometer and a small quad gauge. The Nautalloy Aquabird aluminum steering wheel is a boat wheel from the Fifties. Seems appropriate, doesn't it?