DSR Featured Cars
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By Garrette & Frieda Dylewski
Several years back, after a couple of harrowing adventures, we decided to give away our sail boat and find a new hobby. We decided to find and restore an antique sprint or Indy car then perhaps race it on the vintage racing circuit. Although antique race cars are somewhat rare and parts hard to find, are absolutely useless practically speaking, they are really cool to look at and some do to hold their value. So we started searching. Our first hunt yielded an old sprint car in Cleveland, Ohio. The car was built in 1969 by a well-known driver/builder and was mostly intact; it had an engine and even came with a trailer. We thought it was a good deal so we purchased it and pulled it home. The engine ran well and it looked as though we had something good to start with. The brakes on this car were Halibrand disc type and they “weeped” a bit (leaked slightly) so we sent them off to be rebuilt by an outfit in Virginia. It looked as if we were on the way to getting our car ready AND THEN--A dealer in antique race cars notified us, from our previous inquiry, he had a car we might be interested in. He sent pictures of a blue and white 1961 sprint car with no engine. It looked rough and was extremely expensive to our way of thinking. It seems the car had a documented racing past as well as a famous builder. Our intention originally was to own one race car. However, one of us is enamored to anything blue. Sub-sequent conversations with the dealer resulted in the purchase of this car. A trip to Pittsburg, PA ultimately found this car sitting in our garage.
For the next two or three years, our race car projects were put only hold while we repaired Katrina damage on our home. The actual work time on this was lengthened due to Garrette falling off a ladder breaking his right arm and Frieda having foot surgery. Nevertheless, everything wound up and was finished in September 2008. The first work on our agenda was to build a trailer large enough to haul both cars but still be light enough to pull with our truck. With a bit of engineering, we figured a way to accomplish our goal and built the trailer we wanted. Noteworthy here is that we built a temporary rotisserie to assist in welding, painting and finally wiring the trailer. That took about a month, start to finish.
The next step was to start restoring one of the cars. We chose to work first on the blue car. We had Rick’s Machine Shop, a local business, build an engine to our specs. We started working on the chassis. Additional parts required included an early Ford (1937) transmission, an engine adapter, brake calipers, master cylinder, new seat and various other things. This race car originally had an Offenhauser engine which resulted in a very tight fit for the Chevy small block but with a little jiggling, everything fit together. We were able to completely rebuild the car in-house, as well as making new body panels, upholstery, paint and seat. We were very fortunate to have the assistance of a couple of good friends, Bud McBride and Chuck Hagans. Their selfless help and advice made everything go much smoother and faster. Their humor made it all a lot more fun!
On Feb. 18, 2010, we, as well as Chuck Hagans, trailered the finished sprint car to Zephyrhills, FL to compete with the Daytona Antique Auto Racing Assoc. in their races. Frieda made her racing debut in her newly restored 1961 sprint car, running in several races. We were all quite proud of “our” car. Future intentions are to race in several more vintage races in Florida this year while continuing to restore the other sprint car.
DeSoto Part Deux
DeSoto Update – September 1, 2009 by Paul Dagenais.
(Scroll down if you have not seen the first article.)
Here are three photos of the DeSoto, taken over the past week. A lot has been done since the last report and the car is about done at the body shop. We did have a crisis over the windows. The driver’s window would only rise to about an inch below the quarter window (they should be even). This was a real problem because the front of the window was at the top of the vent window assembly – basically, the entire door was sitting cockeyed in the car. I am so glad I wasn’t around when Larry Smith (of Larry’s Paint and Body) fixed the problem. He had a grin on his face when he told me that he had taken a power pack and wedged it between the main body brace for the car (the back seat covers this brace) and the top of the front threshold of the door opening – this is just below the pillar where the side of the windshield ends. He pushed the front threshold forward about 3 inches and when it relaxed, he had an end result of about 3/8 inch wider threshold. This means he pushed the entire side of the car, at the bottom of the windshield, 3 inches and the windshield didn’t crack. I’d have had a heart attack if I had been there! Larry just smiled as the blood slowly returned to my face. He said it was no problem as he just made sure all the bolts were loose. EEEEEKKKKK!! Okay, I left a minor piece out – these windshields are extremely scarce as they are about 2 inches shorter than the ones used in sedans and hardtops. I found this one which is NOS on ebay about 3 years ago as a total, fortunate, non-repeating fluke.
When we get the car back, we have to fix some suspension problems, install the wiring harness, assemble all the components under the dash and send it to the upholstery shop. I’m hoping the end is in sight…. But this is car restoration so who knows.
From Almost Destroyed to Nearly Delightful and Delovely
1956 DeSoto Fireflite convertible. Owner: Paul Dagenais.
By Paul Dagenais.
I found this car in a Hemmings Motor News ad in January 1999. It said “not for the faint of heart”. They weren’t kidding. We brought it back from Dallas. It had been sitting in a farmer’s field in Oklahoma since 1968. The Fireflite model was second only to the Adventurer which came only as a hardtop. The Adventurer convertible was really a Fireflite with a different trim. As a top-of-the-line DeSoto this car has power steering, brakes, windows, seat and top. The AM radio has a “seek” option and two (count’em!) rear antennas. The clock is shaped like a bullet sitting on the center of the dash. The engine is a 330 DeSoto Hemi (not to be confused with the 331 Chrysler Hemi) paired with the Powerflight 2 speed automatic transmission.
When we got it, the car had no floors in the passenger area nor the trunk area. The quarter panels were rusted through to above the wheel wells. If it hadn’t been a convertible, it would have been trashed. We disassembled the car for a frame-off restoration. This involved an initial chemical dip to remove the paint and rust resulting in even more of the car disappearing into the vats. In the process of restoration, we’ve replaced the trunk lid (from New Jersey), the right quarter panel (from Washington state), the left quarter panel (local manufacture), the driver’s door and hood (a parts car from Dallas), the rear panel below the trunk lid (salvage yard in Montana) and passenger area flooring (Massachusetts). We’ve learned to shape metal and have become proficient in MIG and TIG welding. I found a windshield on EBay. The motor and transmission came from Kentucky. The lens for the front parking lights come from New Zealand. As seen in the last pictures, the car had been media blasted, epoxy primer coated, reassembled, and been in the body shop since July 2008. I reversed the original color scheme to sage green with a white sweep down the side. The top will be white and the interior will be forest green and turquoise leather. To date it has had 9 coats of color and 12 coats of clear coat. Currently it is being wet sanded and buffed so we can start replacing the chrome.
THE UNIQUE MODEL A FORD
By Walt and Martha Fuller
Here we go again, whether to restore or build a car that the whole family can enjoy. So I decided to build a touring car capable of being driven anywhere and anytime we traveled. After traveling far and wide with the ’29 Roadster we decided to build a touring car. Let me tell you about this car. We are very proud of our touring car and read to take it on the road.
Our touring car is a 1929 Ford Fordor (four-door) Town Sedan. Having looked for many years, we finally found a car worth rebuilding. It had a sound body but was in need of a total mechanical restoration. According to the history we received and documentation it had actual 99968 miles on the speedometer same as was showing on the door sill oil change stickers "Remember those." So, the one hundred thousand mile make-over goes like this. We decide to update our car with any and all modern replacement parts as long as they were for a restored Model A Ford. No billet or hot rod stuff.
First of all we removed the drive train and interior. Then the body and all the glass and carried the body to the body shop for a full blown make over. Now comes the good part. The frame has been totally reworked for strength. We boxed the frame and added panhard bars to the suspension for a safe and excellent ride and handling capability. The large hydraulic brakes from early Lincoln are a real improvement. New springs to the front end and ‘56 Ford truck steering make it drive as if it had power steering. Radial tires are also a big help.
The drive train has been updated. Motor has high compression head better camshaft/ valves /pistons and inserts; no more babbit. The Weber carb and header system along with Aires muffler is a big plus. Engine has been totally balanced with some parts having metal removed & an early V8 clutch installed for better driving performance. The ignition is totally electronic & really improves starting & gas millage. The Borg-Warner overdrive five speed transmission was not a bad improvement either. The radiator and cooling has also received special attention. Well that enough about a strong running little four cylinder Model A Ford engine.
Yes there were some creature comforts considered. The body received a total sound proofing and insulating treatment to include reworking the soft top. Now, are you ready for the good stuff? All of this was accomplished so the Air Conditioner could operate on all three speeds with no problem. You know mommy does not like to get hot while traveling. There are other thing such as all new tinted safety glass and electric windshield wipers, turn signals & quartz headlights, along with the best tufted upholstery Labron Bonny has to offer for the Fodor Town Sedan. The paint is very special because it looks good and magnetic signs will stick. For our safety seat belts were added. Well enough for our touring Model A Ford. Why is it "UNIQUE" because at the first outing we were told "if there was ever a unique car that is it".
WE JUST DRIVE AND HONK WHILE RIDING IN OUR UNIQUE MODEL A FORD.