Strombergs at Royal Kustoms


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!


Strombergs at Pendine !

DSC_0639Golly, just realised we never posted our pictures from The Second Annual Pendine Sands Amateur Hot Rod Races, hosted by the Vintage Hot Rod Association. Here’s a healthy selection of the pics we (Clive and Rick Pearmain) took. You might notice how many of them are of Stromberg 97s. That’s because there were so many Strombergs at Pendine we couldn’t stop ourselves. It filled us with pride almost as fast as the pub on the quay filled us with Welsh beer. As we drove to the event, we wondered whether this could be the first UK meeting that Americans fly over to be part of, just as so many of us UK folks fly over to US events. And sure enough we met a great couple who had read about it on the interweb literally a few days before, and booked a flight. There they were, hanging out on a beach miles from nowhere, just enjoying the old style hot rods. That’s what the old car hobby does to us.

You won’t be surprised that it’s all happening again next year. Dates will be announced soon. And folks are already retuning and rebuilding looking for an extra few mph. Sand fever! Be there or miss out on one of the best events you’ll ever go to. Which reminds me, BIG thanks to Neil and all the other VHRA (and local) guys who organised, scrutineered, wardened, participated, raced, broke, drove the ambulance and more.


Stromberg 97 carbs at VHRA Pendine

P1030753Event congestion meant we didn’t make the inaugural VHRA ‘Amateur Hot Rod Races’ at Pendine Sands, but judging by the pictures, a huge load of fun was had by everyone who made the trip to Wales. Sun, sand, sea, traditional hot rods – what more do you want? The event is widely covered on the net by those in a far better position to report than us, so we won’t try here. Our buddies did send us a few pictures, though, including many of the Stromberg-equipped motors that were on the sand – and a few with Stromberg sign writing too (big thanks!)…. So here they are. If they’re your pics and we need to credit them properly, please let us know. Good work Neil and everyone else for making VHRA Pendine a real killer event for traditional rodders here in the UK.

VHRA at Pendine Sands

Just got some super-exciting word from Neil Fretwell at the Vintage Hot Rod Association. On the 7th September 2013, the VHRA will be hosting the very first Amateur Hot Rod Races on Pendine Sands, a 7-mile length of beach at Carmarthen Bay on the south coast of Wales, UK. Pendine was the home of land speed racing back in the 1920’s, so you’ll be following legends like Sir Malcolm Campbell and John Parry-Thomas.

Pendine logo

Campbell broke the land speed record for the first time at Pendine Sands – in 1924 at 146.16mph in a 350HP V12 Sunbeam, now on display at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. He broke three more between 1924 and 1935 at Pendine, including the famous 4 February 1927 outing, covering the Flying Kilometre (in an average of two runs) at 174.883 mph and the Flying Mile at 174.224 mph, in the Napier-Campbell Blue Bird. Our American friends will know, of course, that Campbell was also the first man into the 300mph Club at Bonneville on 3 September 1935, averaging 301.337 mph in two passes. Wonder if he ever got a red cap?

John Godfrey Parry-Thomas’s car, which he bought from Count Zborowski’s estate and christened ‘Babs’, was fitted with a 27,059 cc Liberty aero engine, Benz gearbox and chain drive.  In 1926, he twice broke the mile & km WLSR then went on to break another 8 speed records in October. Though sadly, in March 1927, in a further record attempt, the car skidded and rolled. Parry-Thomas didn’t survive and the car was buried on the beach where it stayed until 1969 when it was dug up and restored by another Welshman, Owen Wyn-Owen.

And the coolest part? The VHRA has invited the current owner to run Babs as part of the event, along with a number of vintage dry lakes race cars. Racing is open to VHRA members and their VHRA eligible cars only, so check out the link and mark your diaries! You can read more about the event, accommodation and racing classes at the VHRA website: