This article was first published in Street Machine's Hot Rod magazine #19, 2018
FROM the beginning of his ’33 Chev project, Richard Townsend wanted a 60s race-spec show car. “My inspiration was the East Coast USA style: unchopped yet heavily channelled, with bobbed rear fenders welded to the body.”
A coupe body was first thought of but quickly dismissed due to family requirements. “Ironically it took 15 years to build, so now our kids have grown up and have their own lives,” Richard says. So in the end, a decision based on practicality produced a creation that can truly only work on this long-roofed scale
Being a Chevy guy meant the brand choice was a no-brainer. “Everyone builds Fords, so building a rare ’33 Chev two-door sedan was a challenge,” says Richard – especially as he took it on himself.
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“I would’ve built it differently if it wasn’t for the tight SA rego laws,” Richard says. “It’d have spindle mounts and a wider rear track for starters, but I wanted something that I could drive. While it has gasser influences, I don’t call it a gasser, as to me they are dedicated drag cars. Although I might race it, it’s a street car”
Obtaining a chassis was Richard’s list-topper, and the massive Ballarat Swap Meet seemed a great place to locate the rare item. “I walked two days straight and never found one,” he says. But on a chance trip to Maldon, he stumbled across a bloke with a ’34 Chev two-door sedan, who knew exactly where the required chassis was – on a mate’s chook-shed roof! $150 later and the frame was SA-bound.
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At the front corners are drag-porn 15in E-T 12-spokes. They’re wrapped in delectable Firestone pie-crusts, complemented at the rear by 10in-wide peanut five-slots sporting Firestone Dragster race rubber
Neither Richard nor good mate and helper ‘Chevy’ Shane had done this sort of work before, so a frame-building bible was purchased and the rest was learnt on the job. “I couldn’t have built the car without Shane, he’s a clever guy,” Richard says. A straight and level jig was whipped up, then the fundamentals of camber, caster and pinion angles were put into play. “I thought it’d take four weekends, but it took two years!”
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“Finding photos for inspiration was difficult, so I had to wing it,” Richard admits. “I wanted to stick my neck out and not just paint it red or baby blue. We spent 22 hours alone masking, and once we were painting the candy panel, any mistakes couldn’t be fixed”
Powering the lot is a ’65 Impala driveline, which was already primed and waiting in the shed. Y’see, back in 2002, Richard flogged off his four-door pillarless rolling body to fund the hot rod project, keeping the known combo that he’d already spent decent cash on.
Wayne Mitchell whipped up the scoop, then Moondog added the gold-leaf lettering. Below, the Enderle manifold has been converted to EFI with hidden fuel rails. For future race duties, Richard has added a three-bolt flange to his homemade exhaust. “I slid in a diverter to flow the exhaust so it doesn’t congregate in the end cap and lose horsepower”
Shane worked his magic on the 400-cube Chevy, adding a heap of strong internals, before porting the cast-iron Dart II Sportsman heads then topping the lot with the stunning eight-stack Enderle injection – with hidden fuel rails – for street-friendly cruising. It’s finished off with a period-correct Vertex magneto, gutted and stuffed with Commodore V8 dizzy internals. Behind is a trusty two-speed Powerglide, fully manualised and shift-kitted, while further back is a Chevy 12-bolt, packed with a Moroso LSD, Richmond 4.10s and Moser 30-spline axles.
“I rang all over the States and couldn’t find a roof kit, so we had to start from scratch,” Richard says. “That’s when I found the 12-foot, 100-year-old oak barrel that had the right curve in the timber. Rob Olsen machined it all up, and it came up a treat”
Yet it’s what’s perched on top that really sets this ride apart – a steel ’33 two-door sedan. Initially, Richard bought himself a fibreglass body, replacing it with a steel version six years into the build. “It set me back time-wise, but to me, a hot rod is made of metal,” he says.
Once landed, Richard laboriously removed the wooden body-frame tack pins, before sending the floppy carcass to Kapunda in SA. There, fellow Monarch Club member Len Vodic began the steeling-out, before channelling it, adding mild tubs and suiciding the doors. Richard made the 230km round trek every weekend for six months to help.
Slowly the to-do list shrank as Richard honed in on the detail required to create his ultimate vision, and for a 60s show car it’s all about the dazzling yet complex paint. “I had to have artistic control of the car because there’s so much artistic merit in it,” Richard says. “So, I found Adam Bakurski of Rollin’ Relics who dug what I was doing.”
Over the following two years, Richard learnt the ropes as they finessed the body and added the bobbed rear fenders.Adam then laid the PPG custom Bad Apple Green before the pair panelled every surface. We’re talking the 60s goodness of flake, candy and pearls, creating a visual feast of planets, fading sun, lace, endless line, flames and fish scales.
Darren Cranwell threaded 250 buttons throughout the interior and roof insert. A single Stewart Warner Police Special speedo sits inside the dash fascia. Below are S-W Blue Line gauges. A 60s Sun football half-sweep tacho is attached to the ’54 Chev truck column, topped by a ’57 Corvette tiller
Swinging open those suicide doors, you find an equally outlandish cabin with vibrant hues, varying lines and levels of texture. Here, mate and club-member Darren Cranwell has knocked it out of the park, swathing the bomber-look ’49 Morris Minor buckets with pearlescent green vinyl and ’56 Caddy insert material. It’s all double diamond-stitched, with diamond door cards and white removable roof insert.
Chatting with Richard and his wife Lynda during the finishing-off period last year, they had so many stories about the good mates and long hours that it took to get Richard’s vision into a working reality. “How many people do you know with a 30s Chev hot rod? They’re very hard to find,” he says. “I took it as a challenge, stupidly, as now I realise it’s so much more work. In the end, I didn’t care if people liked it or not. They can build their own hot rod how they want.”
Yet punters and judges alike love it, with Bad Apple taking out several top awards at the 2017 Adelaide Auto Expo, as well as becoming a 2018 Meguiar’s MotorEx Superstar invitee.
“I didn’t want the ’33 to look like an apple, to have flames or any lace, yet it ended up with all three – which worked,” Richard says. “Moondog has then painted onto the dash a little Mexican worm who’s smoking. He’s a bad worm coming out of a bad apple!”
Now it's time to strip the show guise for something more street-friendly. “Hopefully it’ll be registered and driving around this summer,” Richard says. And the family can finally enjoy the fruits of Bad Apple.
“Only those who study it see the fish-scale detail, and that’s what I wanted,” Richard says. “Overall, I wanted the chassis jacked up; a digging-its-way-out-of-a-hole kind of look.”
The chromed parallel springs were made from scratch using Richard’s research by Industrial Springs. Between them sits a four-inch dropped Magnum stainless tube axle, while at the rear is a ’65 Chev 12-bolt located by a stainless four-bar set-up and Aldan coil-overs. Richard welded all of the rails’ 260 rivet holes before boxing, then added homemade tapered members from 3mm plate. “The engine was in and out 10 times to get it right.”
RICHARD & LYNDA TOWNSEND
1933 CHEV TWO-DOOR SEDAN
Paint: PPG custom Bad Apple green
Brand: Chev 400ci, bored 30thou
Induction: Eight-stack Enderle EFI
Heads: Dart II Sportsman cast-iron, Crane roller rockers
Camshaft: Crane 278
Pistons: TRW flat-top pistons
Crank: Balanced and shot-peened
Oil pump: High-volume, High Energy sump
Fuel system: VS Commodore supercharged V6 lift pump, stainless lines
Cooling: Custom alloy radiator by Wayne Mitchell, 16in thermo
Exhaust: CAE Performance Products headers, 2.5in exhaust by Richard
Ignition: Moon leads, Vertex magneto with Commodore V8 dizzy internals
Trans: Powerglide, full-manual, shift kit
Converter: 2500rpm stall
Diff: ’65 Chev 12-bolt, Moroso Posi LSD, Richmond 4.10 gears, Moser 30-spline axles with Summers Brothers C-clip eliminator kit
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Chromed parallel-leaf, Bilstein shocks, 4in dropped Magnum stainless tube axle
Rear: Stainless four-bar, Aldan coil-overs
Steering: ’54 Chev truck column, VW steering box
Brakes: Wilwood discs (f), ’65 Chevy drums (r)
Master cylinder: XY Falcon
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: E-T 12-spoke 15x6 (f), peanut 5-slot 15x10 (r)
Rubber: Firestone pie-crust 5.60 (f), Dragster 8.20 (r)
Seats: ’49 Morris Minor low-light buckets, Jaguar runners
Wheel: ’57 Corvette
Gauges: Stewart Warner, Sun
‘Chevy’ Shane Clasholm for the engine and chassis; Adam Bakurski of Rollin’ Relics for paint and panel; Len Vodic for steeling out the body; Darren Cranwell for the interior; Stuart Rolls for Auto Electrical; Rob Olsen for oak roof insert; Wayne Mitchell for radiator and air-cleaner scoop; my understanding wife Lynda