When the thick envelope from Mart, Texas, arrived at the R&C offices, we tore into it wondering what treasures the mailman had brought us. What we found was a stack of pictures of the amazingly cool Shoebox Ford you see here, along with a letter from its owner, Brian Bass. We were floored not only because Brian took some great pictures, but because he built his car with a budget of only $3,000. How was such a feat accomplished? We asked the same question, and this is what the 25-year-old sign painter had to say:
"There are no creature comforts in this car, but they really aren't needed. The radio stopped working, but I don't mind because I couldn't hear it over the whine of the geardrive and thump of the exhaust anyway. It was built on a shoestring budget, with lots of horse-trading, junkyard scrounging, and swap meet searching. These are skills passed down to me from my dad. I've put over 25,000 miles on this car in the two years I've had it on the road. Sure, it's not perfect, but I drive it a lot and I drive it hard. Those things just add character to the car and give it even more of the one thing I think it has in spades...attitude."
For all those reasons and more, we're proud to present Brian with a certificate proclaiming him the September '03 Young Gun of the Month, along with a gift certificate worth $400 provided by Sanderson Headers. The gift certificate should come in handy, as this old Ford is packing Bow Tie power with a '72 350 under the hood. The front suspension has been modernized with a Mustang II front clip, while painted steel wheels shod in Coker bias-ply rubber keep things rolling. The car's clean lines are actually composed of parts from two different years, as the tub and doors are from 1950, while just about everything else came from 1949. After the car was nosed and decked, the door handles were removed, the headlights and taillights were frenched, and 96 louvers were punched into the hood. Brian felt that red-oxide primer was an inexpensive way to lay down a foundation for a nice set of flames, which he painted himself with PPG acrylic enamel. The striping was also done by the owner.
Congratulations, Brian, and keep up the good work!
Shut Up and ListenOne of the strangest things I've had to get used to as a magazine editor is fielding a steady flow of phone calls from friends, family, and acquaintances who are constantly coming up with cars I "just have to see" and people I "just have to meet." Of course, half of these cars usually don't even fall within the R&C realm, but I try to talk with as many of these friend's friends as possible, if nothing else, just to be polite. So it wasn't a big surprise last week when a guy I know with a custom paint shop in my old neighborhood called me up raving about a little Model T that some builder near him had recently completed, sure that it would absolutely blow me away. I made the trek out to the 'hood and soon found myself staring at what was indeed one of the most interesting little rods I had seen in a long time.
As it turns out, the builder is an old hat in the hot rod game, having been involved with "the scene" since it got started half a century ago. This gentleman is a metalworker by trade, and he had apparently dedicated the last decade or so to constructing an absolutely dead-on, all-aluminum, 7/8-scale Model T track roadster, built perfectly to spec, right down to the shape of the windshield and the curve of the rear deck. The body was handmade, and every single piece on the chassis was constructed in this guy's garage. Needless to say, I agreed to shoot the car (look for a feature in an upcoming issue), which is when I learned that my hero, legendary sandal-wearing Hot Rod Magazine staffer Gray Baskerville, had agreed to shoot the car upon its completion. Unfortunately Gray didn't live long enough to fulfill his promise. That led to conversations about Gray, Hot Rod Magazine, and the hobby in general. As this gentleman and I bantered back and forth about the state of rodding, I found myself constantly interjecting my opinion, whether it was warranted or not. After all, I am a magazine editor and member of the Young Guns, am I not? After a few minutes the guy got flustered, and he looked about ready to tell me to "Shut The Hell Up."
About this time I realized something. As is the habit with people afflicted with the enthusiasm and impatience of youth, I walked into the conversation assuming I knew every bit as much as this "old timer," and I hardly let the guy get a word in edgewise. Suddenly, I realized that this gentleman has probably forgotten more things about hot rods in the past few years then I will ever know in my entire life. He has built several totally custom cars out of scraps of angle iron and sheetmetal, for cryin' out loud! About then I tucked my tail between my legs and humbly started asking questions, like how he fabricated a panel or why he used a particular part...hoping to glean as much information as possible. We were soon talking shop like a couple of old chums, and he even agreed to help me shape a track nose for my roadster. I'm looking forward to the experience, not so much because I want a new nose for my car, but because I'm hoping to learn as much as possible about an art form not many people know how to do anymore.
The point of my little story is pretty simple, but one that I forget every once in a while: Young people in the rod and custom hobby are still in the minority, and we can sometimes develop an attitude or a chip on the shoulder when older folks try to tell us how to do something or tell stories about "the good old days." The funny thing is, though, that these cars we all love so much were first built back in those "good old days," and everything that can be done probably already has, so we might as well stop and listen to the folks who have already made all the mistakes. Who knows, we might even learn something...
Young Guns UpdateNow that I've got my little rant out of the way, how about some news about the club? As I write this, the first Young Guns issue of R&C has been on the stands for about three weeks, and the membership forms are flying in. A lot of you have sent in some absolutely beautiful pictures of your cars, and we're already working on a way to share those pics with the world, either through a special section in the magazine or on the Web site. The membership kits have been finalized and are even cooler than I once imagined. You not only get a cool water transfer decal with the date you joined the club and "charter member" emblazoned across the bottom, but members also receive Young Guns Bucks good for discounts and free stuff from our advertisers. How about a free T-shirt from Moon, or a subscription to ROD & CUSTOM for just a few clams? If you haven't joined yet, fill out the application in this magazine or find one on the Web at www.rodandcustommagazine.com/youngguns.
We have also had some pretty high-level interest in the club, as several of the venerable old guard have offered to help out with tech stories and other articles. In fact, I have already planned a story with Mr. George Barris himself, who is going to open up the shop and teach us how to do a fadeaway paint job for only $300! It doesn't get much cooler than that. We are also in the planning stages of a Young Guns project vehicle, which will show you how to build a mid-'50s to early-'60s full-size coupe for less than the cost of a Honda Civic (and it should be a hell of a lot faster, too). So now the question is, do we build the car with a contemporary twist (big billet wheels and modern paint) or with traditional flare (flat paint or primer, painted steelies, whitewalls)? This is your club, so why don't you decide! Write me a quick E-mail about what you think the Young Guns project car should be, keeping in mind that we're working with a tight working man's budget. Describe your vision of the ultimate street bruiser, from the body style to the paint and engine. I'll tally everything up and let you know what the consensus is in a future issue. Who knows, ya might even end up seeing your idea turn into a rolling reality! -Dan Dan.Kahn@primedia.com