Carl Frith is from Bristol, England. As he points out, he was always into "Yanks and stuff" [American cars are referred to as Yanks in England] and started out with a '55 Caddy Coupe De Ville. He met Bart about 17 years ago, who was also into hot rods, so they quickly became friends on that U.S. car basis. That's when Carl started building his first ground-up car: a '32 roadster.
Those were the days of billet wheels and shiny flamed paint, and one must admit that the '32 was nicely built, strongly Hemi powered, and won attention if not prizes. But deep inside, and far from the street rod trend, Carl had always liked early Bonneville-style race cars ... and of course '60s Gassers. He was very keen on the raw and wild "competition look" of the era, his favorite cars obviously being the Mooneyham and Sharp 554 coupe, the Hyder and Koolan '34 five-window, and numerous salt flat cars.
"Inspiration is easy in Bristol," Carl says. "Everyone is into early style cars and if they think it's not gonna look right, they will soon let you know!" That's why endless hours of talking bollocks with Bart about different ideas and trying to come up with something new without making yourself look like a tool ended up with the car you see here. Sounds simple, no?
The '33 coupe was bought quite a few years ago after Carl had scouted it in an old Hemmings Motor News. The car was from Pennsylvania and so the deal was made without Carl traveling there. The old boy who was selling it got it to Newark and had it shipped to Felixstowe in the United Kingdom. It was all original when it reached England, but also solid and real straight-a true relief for its new owner who discovered his treasure for the first time when it was finally delivered to its new home. Although the initial chore was to take its fenders off, Carl finally stripped it all apart to make sure his first impression was a lasting one, and he was right from the beginning-the car was amazingly preserved!
Local hot rod guru Merv Barnett came into the picture and did a lot of the early chassis work and installed the pedals. Barnett and Carl sorted the stance of the car out ... "It was always going to be Gasser style, and though [Barnett] reckons he's spent the last 30 years lowering cars, all I kept on about was that it wasn't high enough! We got there in the end. [Barnett] also mounted the discs and calipers to the front spindle mounts, which has become one of his trademarks; whatever he does is second to none. Basically, he got it to a rolling chassis with the main body shell mounted."
The next stage was to take the car to metalwork maestro Lance McCormack at Romance of Rust with the idea of leaving the car in bare metal, a request that didn't seem to worry a man of his talent. The '33 was chopped 4 inches, its decklid was riddled with louvers, several rust repairs had to be performed along the way as well, and a steering blister and roof insert created. Later on, McCormack put the "script" in the dash and finally, when the car was almost finished, crafted the Imperial air cleaner, which in itself is a work of art. "The rollcage was made by Zane Llewelyn at Zannetec Motor Sports, and was a bit of a chore, to say the least, as I wanted it to be removable." Llewelyn also wired the car and was always at the end of a phone when Carl needed advice. Everything else was done at home: general chassis work, firewall, floor, brackets, fuel tanks, etc. Carl fabricated and tacked things together and Bart, who in the course of time became his brother-in-law and now shares the garage with him, finish-welded everything up. "Handy having a brother-in-law as a brilliant coded TIG welder," Carl admits.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Bristol, United Kingdom
1933 Ford Five-Window Coupe
Original stock 'rails with stock-style, folded K-member and Model A rear crossmember; stock front crossmember moved forward 6 inches. Front and rear framehorns removed and chassis fully boxed. Stock '33 front axle (un-dropped) stock-eyed, high-arch front spring, and a '40 Ford split wishbone. Winters Champ quick-change rear axle hung with Model A spring and stainless ladder bars with antiroll bars and Panhard rods front and rear. It has a custom, 2 1/2-inch stainless exhaust system and Schroeder Sprint Car steering box and pitman arm with homemade steering arms and dropped drag link.
The engine's a '51 Chrysler 392ci Hemi with 8:1 compression Ross pistons, stainless valves, solid lifters, and adjustable push rods that dyno'd 550 bhp at 5,600 rpm. Induction is 6-71 BDS supercharger producing around 8 pounds of boost. It has stock Imperial valve covers, an aluminum valley cover sump and timing chain cover, and the trans is a four-speed Chrysler manual (of course).
The body is chopped 4 inches in the front and 3 3/4 inches in the rear. There's an English-wheeled steel roof insert and a steering blister added to the door and cowl area. Fire Power scripts (from Hemi valve covers) are integrated into the rear quarters. It has a stock, all-original grille shell, hood top and sides, headlights, (chopped) windshield surround, door panels, and taillights with modified stands, and nickel-plated hood chassis side blisters-everything else is bare metal.
Wheels & Tires
In front, 15-inch "mag" Halibrand spindle-mounts roll in unison with Firestone Deluxe Champ 5.60-series bias-plies wrapped in Firestone 4.50-15 rubber. Rears are also Halibrands of the magnesium variety, and sport the appropriate Firestone non-belted dirt trackers.
The interior includes a full chromoly detachable rollcage, World War II bomber seats and aviation safety belts, original four-spoke Bell steering wheel, original stock '33 dash with Chrysler Fire Power script embedded, late-'50s 5-inch Stewart Warner Police Special speedo, original '60s S-W "green line" gauges, Nicson power-boat gas pedal, and homemade stainless steel twin (6-gallon) gas tanks.