We seem to have shown a number of Fatman Fabrications front chassis clips being installed on various makes and models of cars in recent years. When we received a call from Bryan Wheeler at Wheeler's Speed Shop in Huntington Beach, California, saying they were about to start a similar job on a Merc woodie, we weren't sure our readership needed to see another complete install. However, this is an immaculate car-in fact it had not long been the finished subject of a frame-off build at Wheeler's Speed Shop-but the owner wasn't happy with its antique handling once it was complete, despite his insistence that it retain the stock suspension and steering, so it was returned to the shop for a Fatman IFS, disc brake, and rack-and-pinion conversion.
But it didn't end there, as the new blown Flathead also came out to be replaced with an Ardun Enterprises engine, as well as a 700-R4 overdrive transmission, ABS electric power brake booster, and a Flaming River steering column, all to be installed while retaining the period almost-stock look of the car. Suddenly this became way more than a Fatman clip install, and we thought it'd be neat to show how a pro shop overcomes all the small obstacles involved in such a major build, and believe us, there were more than a few! Many of the tips and tricks are relevant to similar projects underway in home garages around the world.
In this issue we'll concentrate on the chassis work, engine and trans install, shifter linkage fabrication, steering column modifications, and inner fender clearance issues, with more to follow next month. You may not be building a Merc woodie, or even installing a Fatman clip, but we're certain you'll find plenty of useful information if you're a hands-on builder. We know we picked up a few tips.
Here's our subject, with the...
Here's our subject, with the old engine and trans removed, and the front sheetmetal unbolted as a single piece, as can be seen in the background. Note the heavy blankets used to protect the paint and glass.
If you've read the text first,...
If you've read the text first, you'll know that this was already a very nice woodie, and it's hard to beat a blown Flathead for looks. We figure if you're going to replace one, an Ardun is a pretty cool alternative! Yes, this is the engine that came out!