I’LL ALWAYS remember my first car show – the 2001 Australian Street Rod Nationals. After walking around with my mates and a one-megapixel digital camera, I was well and truly hooked on hot rods and the modified car scene.
Fast-forward to 2017 and hot rodding is stronger than ever, as the latest ASRF Nationals proved. Held in the picturesque Victorian town of Bendigo, the 23rd Nationals were massive. Over 1400 entrants from all over Australia packed into the Bendigo Showgrounds, while more than 10,000 spectators enjoyed the shiny and not-so-shiny machines.
After walking around with my mates and a 22-megapixel camera, I managed to pick out my favourite dozen hot rods of the event with help from young gun Curtis Grima. Although we could have selected 20 easily, the following constitutes Tappy’s Top 12, in no particular order!
It was awesome to see Roger Brockway’s ’34 five-window coupe back in action at the Nationals. Roger has owned the channelled coupe for almost 50 years, though it has been off the road for quite some time!
With the help of good mate Peter Quaife, Roger resurrected the coupe in time for this year’s event, adding Ardun heads and a SCoT supercharger for good measure. The magneto died early on in the weekend, but Roger’s Spades clubmates chipped in to avert disaster and get the car running.
Marcus Shea’s 1934 coupe isn’t quite finished, but it’s going to terrify the neighbours when it’s up and running. Highlights include the gloss-black duco with killer flames by Steve Costa, spindle-mounts and a Halibrand quick-change.
Winner of the top car of the event was Mick Speranza’s ’35 coupe, which I shot for Street Machine Hot Rod #15. The car combines a tough pro street look with blown small-block power and flawless paintwork.
Keen eyes will remember seeing David and Shelly Murphy’s ’32 roadster chassis on display at the Victorian Hot Rod Show earlier this year. The finished product is a cracker, complete with a detailed 312ci Y-block, killer paint and great trim. You can check out in-the-build pics on the Deluxe Rod Shop Facebook page.
Sleepers don’t get much snoozier than Shaun Colliver’s 1930 Ford coupe, with only the slightly wider track and a race shifter giving the game away. Lifting the hood reveals a stonking 460ci Ford big-block, backed by a Powerglide and nine-inch diff.
The stock Model A chassis has been heavily reinforced to help cope with the power, though the four-inch tyres don’t stand a chance! “This is my first rod,” Shaun says. “I looked up the definition of a hot rod, and found one that said something about fitting the biggest engine you can and not worrying about spending money on anything else, so I went and did just that.”
Michael Silke’s ’59 Cadillac was one of the highlights of the weekend, thanks to its mind-blowing candy paint, acres of chrome and stunning trim.
Under the hood is a 390ci Caddy mill running EFI, backed by a VE Commodore auto for maximum leisure on the highway, with airbag suspension to get it down low.
Don Langdon is a fixture on the Tasmanian scene and has built many tasty cars over the years. His ’35 is based on a Bob Cain ’glass body, but you’d have to get pretty close to pick it.
Under the bonnet is an 8BA Mercury, hopped up with a McCulloch blower. “I spotted the supercharger for sale in the local paper and grabbed it,” Don says. “It really does wake the motor up, but you need to put two carbies on it; one isn’t enough.” The flathead is backed by a C4 auto and eight-inch diff and has powered the car on many long runs, including to Queensland. Subtle body mods include Guide headlights, Brizio-style bumpers and US-spec ’37 Ford tail-lights. Don is particularly chuffed with his ‘space-saver’ spare – a stock ’34 Ford wire rim with a motorbike tyre!
Scott Marshall’s ’41 Willys coupe is an evil son of a bitch, powered by a blown and injected, twin-magneto, twin-plug Hemi. It has the stance and attitude of a Wild Bunch car, but with show car appointments and finish.
Tony Jenkins’s ‘Nailed’ was inspired by memories of visiting the speedway as a kid. His righteous ’32 tudor, powered by a 425ci Buick nailhead, is dripping with cool touches, including nerf bars, big Buick drums up front and a Halibrand Champ quick-change out back.
Bacchus Marsh wild man Steve Costa tore up the go-to-whoa in his big-block Chev-powered three-window ’34 coupe.
We featured Les Moran’s ’32 coupe in Street Machine Hot Rod #16, with killer photos by Jordan Leist. The Washington Blue five-window runs a 258ci flathead, hopped up by a Camden supercharger.
Jamie Camilleri’s ’32 coupe has been on the scene for a while (I shot it for SM Hot Rod way back in 2011), but it is still a standout!
292 Y-block power, candy gold paint and killer tuck ’n’ roll trim make it an enduring classic.