Stromberg powered Special

Stromberg powered Specials have been around since the 1930’s, and here’s a real cool example. Graeme Raper’s ‘Monoskate’ Ford V8 special was first raced at Bathurst, Australia back in 1939. It’s got Grand Prix history and it’s still breaking records today.

A typical Australian Special built on Ford Model A chassis rails, the car boasts a split front beam axle with a brass Fiat tractor steering box, a 180 horse flathead V8 with Offenhauser heads, twin Stromberg 97 carburetors, Scintilla Vertex magneto, 3-speed close ratio Ford trans, a locked Ford differential, and early Ford juice brake. The aluminum body is hand formed.

Three iterations

In its first Iteration as “The Ben Tarr Rajo Ford Special”, the car was raced at Bathurst, Mt Panorama at the Easter 1939 meeting. The Second Iteration – as the “Alec Mildren Ford V8 Special” – raced at the NSW Grand Prix, at Bathurst 1946, 1947 and more. And then finally, the car became the “George Reed Special”, built in 1948 and raced successfully at Bathurst and Mt Druitt against the imported European cars of the time – Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Alta, Bugatti and Lago Talbot. Discovered by Mal Reid back in 1977, it was restored and raced successfully as a Historic Racer for over 20 years whilst holding many lap records at various circuits around Australia.

Impressive Competition Record

Its winning record goes back a long way. Hawkesbury Hill Climb May 1949…Foley’s Hill, Record June 1949…Won 50 Mile Handicap Mt Panorama October 1950…Australian Grand Prix Narrogin WA 1951 ( Monoskate led into last lap when the Magneto failed and the “Red Car” won the Race, which is a G Reed Ford Special Sister Car)…Won “Redex 100” at Mt Panorama Easter 1951…Australian Record SS kilometer- 27.26 sec, June 1951…

Stromberg powered !

Only this week (end Nov 2017) “Mona” raced at the Rob Roy Hill Climb, where partly thanks to the hot weather, clean track and Graeme’s driving, she won the Fastest Flathead award and set a new class record, 1.75 seconds in front of the nearest competitor.

Incidentally, Graeme now runs 18 new Genuine 97s on his various cars, flying the flag on road and track for Stromberg’s winning reliability!

 

Stromberg 4×2 Cadillac motor

Wondering about a Stromberg 4×2 set-up? There’s a great feature on the HOT ROD magazine website (written by Rob Fortier) about the build of Mike Blackburn’s cool ’32 Sedan with its Stromberg equipped 390 inch Cadillac motor. As Rob says, “The 390 used to power the sedan was freshened up by Billy (Roach) Cockrell, and does so with a quartet of Stromberg 97s on an Edelbrock CD-694 intake, Sanderson tube headers feeding a stainless exhaust through Porter mufflers of the same material, and a Phoenix Transmissions 700-R4 mated with a Wilcap adapter.” Thanks to Stromberg dealer Austin Speed Shop for representing!  Click here to check out the whole feature. We saw the Sedan at Lone Star Round Up 2017 and it’s a killer car.

Stromberg Carbs at GNRS

The Grand National Roadster Show  – GNRS – needs little introduction or explanation to anyone involved in hot rodding. And each year it more than lives up to the hype. Held at the end of January, the 2017 event was the 68th. True, it’s not always taken place at the Pomona Fairplex, but it sure feels like the event’s home to us. There’s always so much to see, you need all three days to do it justice, what with hundreds of the world’s best hot rods and customs on the show floor, the ’60 Years of Tri-Five Chevys’ display, more cars in the surrounding show grounds, the official unveiling of Chet Herbert’s The Beast III (expertly restored by Dan Webb) and plenty of vendors eager to show you what they’ve got. As usual, we pitched up with the H&H Flatheads crew to meet plenty of customers old and new.

There there’s the competition for the prestigious America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy. Bruce Wanta’s ‘Mulholland Speedster’ took home the top prize, so congrats to Troy Ladd and the Hollywood Hot Rods team, designer Eric Black and painter Mick Jenkins. For us here at Stromberg, it was particularly pleasing to see how many traditional styled, Stromberg equipped cars there were, both among the 13 AMBR entries, and throughout the show halls. As usual, our photos are a totally random, though Stromberg biased, selection of things we liked the look of over the weekend. Our favourites? It was particularly poignant seeing the California Kid again. The Pink Panther car takes a lot of beating for anyone who remembers the crazy show car era. The Early Ford Store’s fuel injected ’40 Ford barn find is typical of the magic they seem to come across again and again. And a pair of super cool hot rods from the Estranged Car Club that we would have taken home given half a chance.

Strombergs at Royal Kustoms

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Royal Kustoms down on England’s south coast might not be well known to our USA friends, but in the UK, proprietor Jim Turnbull and his team have a huge reputation for quality work on early Fords. Jim has long been one of the ‘go-to’ guys for flathead engines, but in recent years he’s also become the number one destination for customers looking to compete in the toughest of long distance classic car rallies.

Now, we’re not talking sedate cruises across a couple of counties here, stopping off at a restaurant and a vineyard on the way. We’re talking a seriously competitive thrash across Siberia (Northern Russia), through South America or from Peking, China to Paris, France. Most of it’s not even on what you could term roads either, so the cars have to be built tough to last even the first day, let alone the month long trip.

On our recent visit, the shop was packed to the ceiling with old Fords, including more ’40 Ford coupes than we had seen for a long time. But these are not your regular old Fords.  They’re built to the hilt, hard charging, double reinforced early Fords that can take more of a serious pounding than you might imagine. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, you can’t take chances. Fuel system? You need two. Throttle cables? Two. Ignition system?  Two. Giant shocks front and rear with hydraulic bump stops. Knobbly off-road tyres. World Class 5-speed manual transmissions. Fuel tanks the size of the Exxon Valdez (but safer). Nine inch rear ends. Full GPS tracking and navigation equipment. And so it goes on. Did we mention super-reliable carburetion? Always Stromberg 97s of course.

We were at the shop as part of our ongoing test programme for the forthcoming new Stromberg flathead distributor. Check the pictures out. It’s a very cool place The work is top notch, and so are Jim, Julie and the Royal Kustoms team. Thanks to them all!

 

Bayou Round Up 2016

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The Bayou Round Up in Lafayette, LA was on Stromberg’s radar last year, especially when the music line-up as announced. But you know how it goes when stuff gets in the way. We blinked and we missed it. This October, no such mistakes were made, and boy are we glad we made the trip. So what’s to say?

OK, I’m going to be diplomatic here. If you’re the kinda guy who just wants to turn up, park up, look at the cars and go home, you’d be missing about 90% of the fun. If you want to experience everything this lil ol’ town has to offer, then you’re in for a cajun treat. The schedule was brutal. We thrashed en masse from Austin TX to Lafayette, stopping for lunch in Houston (thanks Jim Jard!) and at just about every gas station on the way. We tripped out to the Tabasco sauce factory in its own island gardens, sculpted out of the swamp. We watched American Graffiti after dark at a drive-in movie. Sank bourbon-based Old Fashioneds at an unfashionable hour, with two more to geaux. Caught live zydeco and rockin’ blues at a cool outdoor bar. Pirouetted with great-grandmothers – in the afternoon – at a cajun dance hall, built in 1955. Scoffed oysters, gumbo and jambalaya, boudin balls, etouffee and deer neck stew. Squashed 10 to a table for legendary burgers. Watched Jimmy Vaughn…twice. Awarded the Stromberg Pick to Speedy Martinez’ 32 roadster. Bumped into old friends and customers at the free Friday night concert in downtown Lafayette. And made new friends for life. Oh and we managed to fit in a pretty cool car show, and launch our (pending) Ford flathead distributor to just about anyone who would listen.

Ok, you got me. The Bayou Round Up was my kind of car show. Personally I can’t thank The Kontinentals Car Club enough for organising the bash, and welcoming me along like a brother. And to all you local folks – too many to list here – thanks big time for making this old English guy feel like a much younger English guy. A bientot!