When you’re at Bonneville you see all sorts of crazy contraptions while walking (and driving) around the five mile long pit and spectator area. You witness things that can rocket to speeds just shy of 400 miles per hour to things that are created to look the best while flossing at 20 miles per hour. Basically, you see the whole spectrum from pure performance to pure hardparking. It’s phenomenal to be able to to be able to take all of this at a single event.
With such an eclectic mix of cars, you also meet an eclectic mix of people. The owner of this rat rod is one of those crazy individuals that travelled long distances to attend the cultural festival at the Salt. He drove his RV with the car trailer from Vancouver, Canada to the Utah. He is 100% devoted to hot rod culture. And the build quality of this ‘rat rod’ even questions if we should even categorize it as that. Rod and I met and conversed with this fellow, Ken (from Top 10 Hot Rod & Customs) before we even saw the car. When he mentioned something to the nature of, “hey do you want to see my car?” The response came out instantly: “Yes Ken, we DO want to see whatever you have!”
We had absolutely no clue what to expect when we walked to the car trailer and those doors opened…
What laid before us was a 1930 Ford coupe rat rod. A car that barely even held onto the idea that it is, indeed, a rat rod. But what this car did have was an absolutely menacing presence and that each and every nut, bolt, and piece of metal on the car seemed like it radiated with history. And as we talked to Ken a bit more, we soon found out that assumption was true. Every part on this car has a vintage going to the late 50s.
As I stepped into the cockpit of the Ford Coupe, what followed was an eye opening experience filled with ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’. There was not a single creature comfort to be found on the inside. Everything was bare metal, with the exception of the seat cushions. There are some parts on the inside of the car where you can see straight out onto the ground. And when you take a hold of that steering wheel, you feel like you’ve been transported into the future, according to the 1950s, of course! And said steering wheel? That’s taken from Boeing B-29 bomber.
There’s a sense of elegance when every working part of the car is exposed. It’s almost like the modern art museum in Paris, the Centre Pompidou, where the inner workings of the building is exposed to the outside –the air ducts, piping, electrical, etc. The same aesthetic concept goes for this car. Every bit of the car that helps the car move and function is there to accentuate the style, flare, and aesthetic appeal to this car. It’s raw, and it’s real.
The metal rods surrounding the drive shaft is an area in the interior of the car that is of great beauty and is definitely something to marvel at.
The exposed linkages from a four speed, aluminum cased transmission.
A dial for the water temperature which is just mounted on a rod that connects the ‘dashboard’ to the body of the car.
Exposed bits of metal and dials that harken back to simpler times –times when there was an engine, four wheels, and thats it. No reverse cameras, TVs, or electronic governing. The gauge pods themselves is actually a South Winds gas meter –not even a car part!
These switches seem like they were taken straight out of Flash Gordon’s spaceship.
This car has twos pedals, one for the clutch and one the one that is the most important –the go button! And so I bet you’re wondering how does this thing stop? It stops with a hand operated rear brakes! This car is absolutely bonkers through and through!
Even the sticker is vintage!
Six inches were chopped off the top of the original 1930 Ford coupe to give it a much more mean looking stance. The car’s name, Littleboy is an ode to the bomb that was dropped onto Hiroshima in 1945. Think what you may about that symbolism and it’s significance in world history. But the name suits the car quite well.
The lettering of “Littleboy” was hand painted onto the door.
The bare metal also flows all the way out to the exterior of the car. You can see the layers of paint that some of the panels have. It really brings that sense that this car really has so much history. The rear tail light is from a 1939 Chrysler DeSoto. The chrome really stands out from the gritty bare metal and balances out the rear of the car quite well.
There may be a radiator grill in the front, which is from a 1947 Cockshut Tractor, but it definitely does not house the radiator. Follow the coolant lines all the way back into the trunk and you will find the only modern piece on this whole car. An aluminum radiator and an electric fan!
This fuel tank is also another part that has been converted from an airplane. It’s the oxygen tank, from a Boeing B-52, for the pilots when they were in high altitudes!
Like I said before, just about everything on this car is vintage up to the 1950s. The rear wheels from a 1940s Ford tractor and even the parachute is a vintage piece!
At the time that these photos were taken, the suspension were just a solid mount. The owner was actually thinking of putting on modern coilovers for true performance, but decided to keep it period.
The attention to detail and the quality of the build that this car has received can be seen by looking close to the frame and noticing that it follows the contours of the body. The chassis itself is completely hand made too with the exception of the ’30 Ford Coupe body on top of it. The front wheels are off of a International Harvester.
Now on to the meat of this car (or, should I say, the heart?), the motor. This extremely shiny, and elegant piece of metal is a 1957 Hemi V-8 which has been built for nitrous.
In the front of this massive engine sits two McCullough superchargers. When Ken took the car for a little jaunt around the pit area (let me remind you again that it is 5 miles long), you can hear these twin super charges whine from miles away. That sound, accompanied by the Hemi V-8 roaring out of its two collectors which exit both sides of the engine, is a sound that only mythical gods have the privilege of hearing to. Heavenly is an understatement.
Just looking at the engine is a sight to behold. If you liken this car to an art piece (which in my mind, it is), then the car is the painting, and the engine is Mona Lisa’s smile. It has that huge of an effect on the whole of the car.
If you go to the Bonneville Speedweek with an open mind, you will meet tons and tons of people. And the thing is, they’re all extremely nice, gracious, and humble people. They are on the Salt for the sole reason to support and spread the knowledge, love, dedication to Hot Rod culture. They want everyone to see why it is such an old and prosperous scene. The owner of this car, Ken, is one of those people. And if anyone was to look at his car, they will instantly see that this car, even though it looks like a hunk of junk at first sight, is given the same bruised knuckle, finger burning, excessive yelling, lack of sleep treatment that pristine concours cars receive.
But you know what? I prefer this car to any extremely clean car. It has so much more character. For me, a car’s character is the deal breaker –and this car definitely has plenty of it.