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Big-block 1936 Ford Tudor

By Simon Telford |Photos: Chris Thorogood, 26 Jul 2018 Features

1936 Ford Tudor

Less is more when you’ve got a big-block, four-speed and a whole lot of red paint!

This article on David Townsend's '36 Ford Tudor was originally published in issue 11 of Street Machine's Hot Rod magazine, 2013

THIS bitching ’36 tudor might not have picked up any trophies at the 2013 Street Rod Nationals, but it sure as hell was the best debut car at the event. As soon as I eyeballed the beautifully-dressed big-block, I had a feeling the car might have originated from the town of Glen Innes, NSW. Glen Innes is the home of the Townsend family, who we met back in the 2005 Hot Rod Annual. There are four brothers who’ve built a swag of neat cars between them, along with their dad, Larry, and some third-generation spanner-heads, too.

Ford TudorThe owner of the ’36 is David, otherwise known as Chub. Chub has a neat little collection of cool cars, headed by his ’33 roadster. Resplendent in brush-applied Heritage Red, the roadster packs a LS7-spec 454 and is one tough hombre, with a best of 8.1sec over the eighth-mile.

Related: Elite-level 383 Chev-powered 1934 Ford Tudor

Ford Tudor frontThe ’36, though, is a whole different kettle of chips. It runs a big-block as well, complete with a four-speed ’box, but it has been built to a whole new level of shiny.

Related: Blown 289-cube 1933 Ford coupe

Ford TudorLike many ’36s, the tudor came with only a single taillight. “I found a NOS one, but when it got here it was bent, which is why it sat on the shelf! The right-hand side is hard to find”

“I bought the tudor in 2005,” says Chub. “I love the roadster, but wanted a five-seater car with a roof for cruising.” And having spent a bit of time in Glen Innnes during winter, we can understand why!

“It was a complete car, but pretty rusty,” he continues. “Four inches in the bottom of the doors, right over the top of the rear guards where it bolts to the body and all through the floor. A fair bit of planning went into it. It sat in the yard for two years while I figured out exactly what I wanted to do and collected parts.”

Related: Home-built Pontiac V8-powered 1931 Ford Tudor

Ford Tudor windscreenChub travelled far and wide to collect all the necessary bits. “It needed new front guards, which I found at the Pomona swap, and the grille came from over there, too,” he says. “The car was missing one bucket seat, which was a bugger. I was at the Kumeu Swap in NZ one year and I found a bloke with a whole bunch of ’36 stuff. He said it was all out of a tudor, so I asked him if he still had the seats. Sure enough, he did, so I said to bring them back next year! I went back 12 months later, bought them, wrapped them in big black plastic bags and threw them on the plane as baby seats [laughs].”

Ford TudorChub originally bought a set of steelies with crossply tyres for the ’36, but then developed a hard-on for a set of Salt Flats. “They only sell the fronts in 4-inches and I couldn’t get the wheels to turn in the guards. So I had to order a set of sixes and get the engineer to split them. That pushed the centre out and gained me 28mm. I’ll still run the steelies at some stage - they’ll look cool, too”

The chassis came from much closer to home, namely a local gully just out of town. “I still have the original chassis and running gear in the backyard; we’ll use them for something one day. The chassis we found was a ’37, had been sitting upside down and didn’t have a speck of rust in it.”

Ford Tudor engineThanks to a recessed firewall and lots of care in the setting up process, the 454 sits in the engine bay just so. The neat air filters were made by Rocket in NZ but are now out of production

Chub’s brother Peter set up the chassis at his Glen Innes Hot Rod Shop, boxing the rails and adding new rear and centre crossmembers to support the heavy duty driveline. Up front is a four-inch dropped axle, located by four bars and decked out with So-Cal shocks and P76 discs. Out back they went for a four-bar set-up with coilover shocks and big finned drums. Peter also worked a neat under-dash brake and clutch assembly.

Ford Tudor engineWith solid foundations established, Chub had the body sandblasted and sent to Jason Parks in Alstonville for the body work, which included a new floor and a recessed firewall. “One of my inspirations with this car was a blue ’36 coupe I saw in a US mag years ago; a real tough thing with Limefire pipes,” he says. “I sent the car to an exhaust shop to have a set made to suit the car and waited for ages to have them done. When I finally got them, they were buggered and wouldn’t fit. That really took the wind out of my sails for a while and I just pushed it into the shed and left it.

Ford Tudor underside“In 2009, I got enthused again and sent it to Russel Acheson to do the panel beating, then Dean Hamilton painted it in 2010 using 25 litres of solid red. There was still a lot to do on it, though, so I had to concentrate on saving up some extra cash for a while, and I also put a big extension onto my shed.”

Ford Tudor interiorBy this time it was 2012, and the Street Rod Nationals on the Gold Coast were suddenly looming large. The tough 454 was built by Retorque in Tamworth and Chub got stuck into installing all the mechanicals into the car and doing the wiring. “I had it all nutted out by February 2013 and then sent it off to the trimmer in Ballina. I went down there every couple of weekends to help figure out the seat heights and patterns, but we were running out of time. At the end of March I brought it back home to get its TAC inspection and rego, then back down to Ballina to finish the trim. We picked it up on the Wednesday and drove straight to the Nationals. It was tight!”

Ford Tudor dashAnother nice touch added to the car is the ’36 Deluxe radio dial in the centre of the dash, as well as Deluxe garnish moulds around the inside of the doors and rear window

Amongst a sea of hot rods, the ’36 stood out like the dog’s proverbials. “I wanted to keep the body as stock as possible,” says Chub. “I left the crankhole in the grille for example. I made a few little changes, like fitting commercial bumpers and tucking them into the body a bit tighter.”

Ford Tudor interiorFinding all the right bits and pieces to complete the car was a mission. “I bought about half a dozen heaters to come up with this one. The funky handbrake lever is a ’36 pickup item, complete with a magnesium handle”

Instead, Chub let the car’s stance, well-dressed big-block and a host of cool details, do the talking. With the Limefire pipes idea abandoned, the big-block sits tight in the engine bay, with the cool Man-A-Fre intake manifold and sextet of body-colour 2G carbs just squeezing under the hood.

Ford Tudor mirror clockThe detail that gets the old fellas talking is the 30-hour clock, a period dealership option 

Inside, the car is a treat, with gauges from a Chev pickup, a restored Firestone heater, a Jeep shifter for the toploader and a handbrake from a ’36 pickup. The pièce de résistance, though, is the 30-hour clock built into the rear-vision mirror. “They were a dealership option,” Chub reveals. “Pull the cord and they run for 30 hours. I was stoked when I found one, but the lens on the clock had gone black. Then I found a mate of a mate in NZ who was reproducing them perfectly, complete the pinstriping and the little Ford emblem. It’s the coolest thing.”

David Townsend's shedALSO IN THE SHED

One of the wonderful thngs about living in the country is the ability to build yourself a big shed! Chub's not only has a hoist, but is full of goodies, including a '67 Camaro with 396 BBC power, a four-door pillarless 1957 Chev and son Andrew's big-block HT wagon. Random goodies include various vintage big-block Chevs, a collection of Jeep shifters and lots of '36 bits!

1936 FORD TUDOR
DAVID TOWNSEND

Colour: Red!

DONK
Type: 454 Chev
Inlet: Man-A-Fre
Carbs: Olds 2GC
Heads: Merlin 320 rectangle port
Cam: Comp cams roller
Pistons: Probe
Crank and rods: Eagle
Radiator: Walker
Ignition: MSD dizzy with 6AL
Exhaust: 2.5in twin system with Flomaster mufflers

SHIFT
Box: Top Loader with Jeep shifter
Clutch: Quarter Master
Diff: 9in, 3.9:1, Moser axles

BENEATH
Front end: 4in dropped axle, So-Cal shocks, four-bar
Rear: Four-bar with batwings and So-Cal coilovers
Brakes: P76 discs, polished VP callipers (f), finned Ford drums (r)

ROLLING STOCK
Rubber: Coker 165R and 235/75R
Rims: American Racing Salt Flats, 5x15in and 6x15in