Al Sharp is a name that rings bells in the rod and custom world. Sharp is a man who is known for his Flathead designs and patterns. He first started getting into hot rods during his time at George Washington High School in Los Angeles. He joined the Idlers Car Club and occasionally raced the dry lakes with a 1932 Ford roadster. It was during this time that Sharp was able to experiment with his gift. With the idea that two carburetors were better than one; he decided that four carburetors are better than two. Unfortunately for Sharp, the design worked off and on, but that didn’t stop him.
After school at Lumley’s Auto Wreckers off Main Street in Los Angeles, California, Sharp got a part-time job where he began to learn about automobile construction. It was then Sharp realized he wanted to be an engineer. Unable to afford engineering school, Sharp got a job at making patterns in a foundry. Learning everything he could on his own about engineering and design, Sharp then went into the Navy and was able to put his skills to the test. During his service, Sharp was able to repair a broken propeller and showcase his metal working skills.
Eventually, after being discharged from the Navy, Sharp started his own business called SP Pattern Service making speed equipment. Soon enough, his designs slowly began being featured on Ford’s various line of V-8’s.
Sharp’s design popularity began to grow like wildfire and he decided at that point to begin Sharp Speed Equipment in 1948. His first commercial success was the triple-carburetor manifold and from there began working on Dodge, Chevrolet, and Plymouth brands. Sharp had come across a Ford V-8 head design from Jimmy of Nairn Machine Shop and decided to toy around with the design. From those initial designs, Sharp was able to perfect his own, which included a redesigned interior water passage to prevent from overheating and was created from cast-aluminum rather than iron.
With a new line of products to showcase, Sharp ventured into the racing scene. He went on looking for local racing venues and eventually found the CRA Track Roadster Show. The venue was expected to draw a massive crowd and it served as the perfect platform to showcase his creations; the triple-carburetor manifold. Though competitors laughed in his face, the joke was on them once the results were proven on the track. Banking on the success of the triple-carburetors, Sharp began to produce generator brackets, safety hubs and even foot pedals. After placing an ad in HOT ROD Magazine in 1948, his business grew dramatically.
Sharp died in 2004 and his legacy continues to live on through other builder’s and enthusiasts alike. He will forever go down in history as one of the men who helped build the American performance industry.
To keep the tradition alive and well, H&H Flatheads has acquired rights to reproduce the famous 59A Sharp design via Sharp Speed Equipment. The Sharp 59A heads are in stock along with 3x2 intakes, 2x2 intakes, fuel blocks, finned generator brackets and foot gas pedals. H&H Flatheads plans to reintroduce the 59A head design that has not been used in over 20 years. You can find the designs at www.flatheads-forever.com or through www.sharpspeedequipment.com. You can also call H&H Flatheads at 818-248-2371.