Unchopped Hot Chocolate Rod
By. Ulf Forsberg
In the scarce populated barren north of Sweden one can travel for miles spotting nothing but reindeers and some occasional brown bear. There is a surprise when a roadsign suddenly appears by the roadside. As surprisingly as the story about good old Henry trying to run a Ford factory among coccoabeans in the midst of the jungle in South America.
A friend of Niklas pulled this 1931 Ford Tudor out of a barn outside Vannas, Sweden, end of last century. Ford motor company sold the car as new in the region of Vasterbotten, northeast of Sweden almost a century ago and now it is rolling forward to greet us in the small township of Vilhelmina, part of Lapponia, just a few miles from where it was born, well let´s say; delivered.
The number of Hot Rodded vehicles among the mountains and fjords of northern scandinavia are few. Niklas Johansson steps out, counting on his fingers,
- Well, guess there is most of them in Umea, but over here it´s me and Danne in Storuman who´m i´d just traded some deuce parts with and...
To hook up with equals in real life (or IRL, as kids knows it) means, around these parts of Sweden, driving a couple of houndred miles, at least. And then, as an unwanted result, to be part of a raid that the swedish road police made a couple of years ago, is not something a fellow hot rodder asks for. In Sweden this used to be a common thing of the past to seize cars without fenders or with high stacked compressors. Customizers and hot rod builders have had a serious aim making amens with the authorites. To meet each other an organisation called SFRO has dealt with the problems and now certified people guide cars through the course of paperwork. When Niklas car was banned by the law he just dragged it back to the garage and ripped it apart. Positive thinking. As a northener he is used to trying to make the best of every situation. And his revenge were soon to come.
- Sure, Ill knew i`ll get back to them, there were rumours about new legislations so i built and waited, built and waited some more, biding my time...
Niklas never start working on a project that is more or less completed, no, he rather work on an object who noone belives anything would come out of.
- When i drag something up the runway my neighbours says : - "Ha da vey ao hemt roskan nau eyen"? (in a northern swedish dialect something like: "Nah, all yo got'n da wreck fo again, eyh?") - They think it look like shit but as spring arrives and i open the garage then they really change their faces...
As a little toddler he followed his old man on an auction and saw this scrappy looking Ford -34 for sale. His dad was not so impressed and told him off. Despite the cries of the youngster they left auction house with money still in fathers pocket. Not so much later he saw "American grafitti" among some elder relatives and firmly decided: There were to build a Hot Rod, now ore later, but as soon as possible...
- You asked around the outback areas: - Someone having some old stuff?, even if just a half a doorpanel i was interested. - Found these roadster quarterpanels which i later built a whole car from, firewall in another village, parts of a frame in another... - You can hear rumours about some old Ford and poking around the area you stumble over parts in a pile of rubble somewhere. - I mean, they used to chop up cars with an axe and bury them!... - No... as for now, i´m more comfy like, back then i used to start off with almost nothing...
The Tudor was in bad condition. Niklas went inbetween the warmth by the welding machine and mugs of hot chocolate during those freezing polar nights. When the first version of the car came in working order he had already in his mind pictured out how the project would proceed. It was aimed to be a family friendly solid car. Since he, by then, have had small kids of his own. And when the raid of the lawmakers forced him to turn the ignition off he grabbed the oppurtunity to make things better.
It is a creation from the Johansson garage that has been scrutinized and mixed by equal amounts of cocoa and cream many times before finally some hot milked touch were added. Niklas tells how he just pointweld his object for an over all wiew, to step back for adjustments. Most of how he design the work is already there, in his head, already before making it. As the job is done there is just some adjustments to be made before final welding and stiching it up properly when the sum of proportion and outline feels right.
The core of this home brewed chocorod is a 1974 chevy 350 that turns a TH350 around. While he refurnished his Hot Rod into the more upgraded version he swapped the automatic gearbox to an equally more fitting TH700 attached to the reliable four bolt cranked truckengine. The upgraded trans has a mileage consuming lockup that he smilingly demonstrates whizzing by the 90 kilometers per hour roadsigns at a mere 1600 revs on his electronic multimeter device. The meter is neatly fitted in the original model A dashbord frame. Progammable with everything from outside airpressure, altitude, timelapse of a ¼ mile and even notes on his old website Rockonspeedshop.
His creation is a treat of tasty little details. Guidelights in front and model A taillights corners the cacaocoloured candybar of a car. Former hole in roof is welded shut with a Volvo 245 top, resprayed with a false pegamoid finish. The capped front is moved up to measure with the roof. Front crossbeam has been relocated as to give more room for a Walker radiator in front and a Vega steering gear in the back of engine. This also ment a "streched" wheelbase of 107,5 inches. Equally made the frame poking more neatly under the lowered 1932 grille. The boxed model A frame has recieved outer clothing by a couple of 1932 outer rails that Niklas has reworked to fit it's new location under the 1931 tudor body as tight as possible. Rear sidewindows has altered stops to give room for passengers elbows to recive some tan... Some of those little details...
Such as the wheels, looking like a -1932:s spoked 18 incher, but hold on!?, scale is playing with us, model A:s rims?, but where is the nuts? Answer comes out of Niklas pals machinery cross the road. He grinded some guideplates to fit some old Chevrolet six bolted rims from the thirties. Redrilled for 4,5/5 boltcircle to fit the aftermarket disc & spindle kit on a 4" dropped axle.
- One never spot anyone cruising around featuring old 19" spokes! ,Niklas says.
Niklas ordered 7 00 19" Firestone piecrust from Coker. As it turned out, he manage to grab the last odd pair in stock. Front runners of choice became a couple of Excelsior who offered the desired pattern. There is an ever increasing amount in choice of rubber these days. A whole lot is radial built with old diagonal looks. Wheels are an overlooked part of a car, not just esthetically, but also for handling purpouse.
The tire Niklas attached has also involved some lab maths with air pressure.
- A few psi up or down really matters, he says. And explains;
- They sway real easy, unstable at low pressure and deformes at higher psi. It is like they vary in diameter, they're not circle round, or maybe the rubber is uneven... - As i filled too much, it turned out hazardous, almost popped off the road, so loosing pressure again i landed on 30 psi in front and 45 at rear. So, as for now, i experience a little tendency of wobble reaching 40 miles an hour but as speed increases the car is more and more steady!
It seems like nothing but luck how good a quality tires you get hold of. With some misfortune you end up with oval shaped tires. Sounds like manufacturing problems(?). As all those containers of exported hot rodding stuff gets unpacked around the world some are ok, some not. An inconsistency just fitted with tires or what?
- I´ll never balance the diagonal tires, no use, youré gonna end up with weights all around the rims!
Niklas has sturdier motorcrossbikes innertubes for the front wheels and choosed tubes for tractors in rear. He emptied rolls of gaffa adhesive and extra rimband to shield from the spoke attachments. One can never take too much precautions...
The car was ready to run in its present shape last april. Finally registred and approved by all authoritys fenderless and all. Tax payers money spent on controlling that authorized reflexes were attached properly at the right distance from everything, so forth. Anyway, now it was time to travel south for summer car happenings. The famous Power meet, Hot rod reunion of Sweden and Classic car meet of Rattvik. Suddenly outside Rattvik the thing no fenders can do anything about happens: Flat tire!. On a 19" wheel. No jack. And absolutely no spare. But...
- Then, out there in the distance, an old car came and halted by our tiresome roadside. He had an old tireshop! Just nearby, with all tools and ONE old 19" nos innertube on a dusty shelf. - We were on the road again in twenty minutes!... while we almost gave up a few minutes before this guy came along, out of nowhere!
No car guys of the north contemplates distance in the same way as hot rodders in the south of scandinavia. While they nag over a couple of miles trip to a big car meeting the guys up here just roll a hundred miles for a cup of coffee. Prospects are different, like riding with a your top chopped or not. But all bystanders just loves this car. Tourists on a hike panically search for their cameras as they see the car next to an autumndyed mountain. If an appetizing color is put on your car and the workability of the car also highlited, youré bound to be appriceated!
Chassie is backed by a 3:54 ratioed Volvo 740 rear axle trapped in a four link w coilovers.
- My fourlink sucks it to the ground and then just whipping it off, no smell of any burnt rubber here...
A contributing factor might be that it´s a lightweight car and... that his growing family is putting all their weight in the back(?)
Under long haired roof lining the original looking upholstery is custom made vinyl engulfing a couple of sofas from Hyundai Atos.
- Theyré perfect for a model A!.
Just the right size and design for a Tudor. Adjustable seat with a separate frame to work with. Back seat is with a one piece flipable backrest and front seat is also a Hyundai sofa but a split backrest version with a narrowed front. Making it easy to reach the back seat through the short doors on this not so long chocolate brown Hot Rod of a car.
- It´s the wife who says it looks like a box of chocolate. And that our children has grown up in it like candy in a box!
A good year of a nice brand of chocolate is not for sale. So...
This is a keeper