We caught up with Mark and Wickersham this January at the Grand National Roadster Show where this car was being shown for the first time since being put away in 1966. They walked us around the car and went over the Roth and Ronnow build.
A stock Model A frame served as the starting point for this car. The frame was lengthened to give a wheelbase of 107 inches, up from a stock measurement of 103 1/2 inches. The framerails were double Z'd to get the car down closer to the salt to reduce drag. The front and center crossmembers were custom fabricated and the rear crossmember was the original Model A item.
Front suspension consists of a '39 Ford (un-dropped) axle with a transverse leaf spring, split wishbone, and '39 Ford spindles and shocks. Rear suspension is by way of a '39 Ford live axle with a transverse leaf spring and Monroe tube shocks. Brakes are '39 Ford hydraulic 12-inch drums at all four corners. The steering box and master cylinder are sourced from a '39 Ford, as well. Wheels up front are 15x5 Mercury running Firestone tires; the rears are 16 x 4 1/2 Fords, which also spin Firestone Deluxe Champions. (All four were treated to '47 Ford hubcaps with trim rings.)
The interior is handsome and purposeful with a custom black Naugahyde pleated and rolled bench seat, military surplus belts, and tuck 'n' rolled door panels. The steering column is shortened and chromed (with a '41 deluxe wheel) and the pedals are a modified assembly from a '39 Ford. The dash is a custom wood job with a Stewart Warner script tach and speedo and four Stewart Warner crescent-sweep gauges-and is also home to the '52 SCTA timing tag from its inaugural Bonneville runs. Engine revs are divined by a front-mounted Stewart Warner mechanical tach drive and the wiring is custom cloth-covered throughout.
The steel body came from a '27 Model T and is channeled 4 inches over the modified frame. The paint is metallic maroon. The doors are leaded in and a Deuce grille was shortened and fitted. The hood and side panels are fabbed from aluminum. The windshield is a cut down '27 T affair, headlights are from Arrow, with taillights courtesy of a '41 Chevy.
Go power for the Roth and Ronnow '27 T comes from a heavily worked '46 Mercury V-8. The engine was overbored 3/16 inch and the Merc crankshaft was stroked 1/8 inch to give a displacement of 300 ci. With a cam from Winfield, the connecting rods are modified Mercury and the pistons are Sterling. The cylinder heads are finned aluminum (script style) from Edelbrock as is the intake manifold, which sports triple Stromberg 97s.
The headers measure 1 3/4 inches and are custom-made, leading to chromed straight pipes without mufflers. The copper radiator is a shortened '32 Ford.
Gear changes are accomplished via a '41 Ford side-shift box with Zephyr gears and a column-mounted shifter. The driveshaft is a shortened '39 Ford; the aluminum flywheel is from Schiefer; and the clutch is from Auburn. In keeping with the overall quality of construction, Roth and Ronnow equipped this roadster
with a Halibrand V-8 quick-change centersection.
Fuel is delivered from a shortened '29 Chevrolet tank and all fuel lines are fabricated from copper. Engine dress-up items included a chromed '41 Ford generator, individual chromed spark plug wire tubes, and chromed water pumps and radiator tubes. Other chromed items include the front axle, front spring, front shock absorbers, tie rod, drag link, radius rods, backing plates, headlight supports, and spindles.
Wickersham completed the work in 2008 and all agreed that the late-'57 "school bus" yellow paint had to go. Mark sent the car to Hatfield Restorations of Canton, Texas, to clean the original interior and repaint the car to its Roth and Ronnow Bonneville Maroon. Hatfield carefully removed the yellow paint and was able to get a perfect match on the underlying maroon paint. In addition they found several colors beneath the maroon; these colors may hold clues to the car's earlier history.
Mark has been in contact with Ronnow's widow and one of their sons but has been unable to get in touch with Glen Roth. Mark says, "I searched a long time for a historic hot rod like this one with land speed racing heritage, and I am honored to be this car's current custodian. As someone who's currently racing at Bonneville, I truly appreciate the energy that Mr. Ronnow and Mr. Roth put forth to build this wonderful piece of American racing history."