Bonneville To Nz: The American Delivery

Now I’m not quite sure how big this program is in other parts of the world, but here in North America many European manufacturers offer a “European Delivery” option for new car buyers. Instead of picking up a car straight off the lot, or waiting for it to arrive on the truck, you can special order your vehicle and then fly to Europe to tour the factory and take delivery of your new machine right then and there.  After that, the new car owners are able to experience a great European vacation behind the wheel of their new car – sightseeing, driving the Autobahn, visiting the Nurburgring and so forth.

Once the vacation is over, the buyer drops the car off at the port, hops on a plane heading home and waits for the car to arrive a few weeks later. It’s quite a cool concept really. Imagine if the same thing was offered by Japanese car makers for instance. You could fly to Tokyo, go pick up your brand new GT-R or Toyota 86 at the factory and then tour Japan’s great mountain roads and circuits before shipping the car home. It sounds amazing. But what does any of that have to do with the battered looking Ford Model A pictured above?

Well, the story of this car actually begins back in 2010 when a Hot Rod fan from New Zealand named Cam made a trip to the US to experience Bonneville Speed Week for the first time. As I witnessed first hand a couple weeks ago, you meet some amazing people on the salt and one of the people that Cam met in 2010 was Greg from Desert Rats and Customs in Pasco, Washington. Greg is of course the owner and builder of the radical tow truck I featured here last week.

That trip to Bonneville had a huge effect on Cam, and before he even returned home he was already scheming about his next trip to the salt. For the next visit though, he wanted to do more than just experience Bonneville as a tourist. One of the absolute best ways to do Speed Week is behind the wheel of your own Hot Rod, so Cam figured that’s exactly what he should do. The only problem was that he first needed a Hot Rod to do it in…

It was soon decided that Cam would work with his new-found friend Greg to have his own Rat Rod built in the States and that he would pick it up and take it to Bonneville before bringing it home to New Zealand. Thus began months of back and forth emails and long distance phone conversations as Cam and Greg worked out the plans for the build. Once the initial planning was complete, the actual building would consist of over 200 man hours spread over a four month period.

They began with a 1930 Model A two-door sedan, which promptly received a four-inch chop and a custom-filled roof. From there the body was mated with a custom-fabricated 2x3x120 frame with a six inch Z rails in the front and a 22 inch kick up in the rear – both of which are common Hot Rod chassis building techniques done to make a car sit as low as possible.

Besides the heavy chassis work, the car runs coilover shocks in the rear with a suicide spring kit up front. The rear differential is a 10-bolt unit sourced from a 1994 Chevy Truck with a 3.73 final gear ratio.

The engine they chose to go with is a pretty standard 305 cubic inch small block Chevy with an Edelbrock four barrel carb, HEI ignition and a set of center dump manifolds which feed through a full exhaust and finish with a pair of NASCAR style tips in the rear.

While a traditionalist might prefer a Flathead or perhaps an old Hemi, this car, much like like Greg’s truck was built with simple reliability in mind. The motor is mated to a GM 700R4 overdrive automatic trans which results in very docile highway driving and reasonable fuel economy, although I doubt it can match the Cummins when it comes to raw MPG.

As always, the 24 ounce PBR can is the Rat Rodder’s reservoir of choice.

Having the right wheel and tire setup is crucial on any car, and perhaps even more so on a fender-less machine like this one. The whitewall, bias ply rubber comes from Lester Tire and they measure 29 inches tall in the front and 33 inches tall in the rear. The rolling setup is finished off with a set of original 1931 Model A wire wheels that have been powdercoated black.

The interior of the Model A is just as raw as the exterior, although once I climbed in I found that the Opel bucket seats were actually surprisingly comfortable. You can see the that Lokar shifter on the 700R4 actually comes close to touching the roof.

The steering box is a reversed piece from a Chevy Corvair, which the guys have found to work very well.

While most of the gauges in the car are newer items, the speedometer itself is as old school as it gets.

The car is a proper rat in all of its details. This actually brings me to an ironic observation I’ve made about Rat Rods over the years. While these cars have some of the scariest and most dangerous looking exteriors ever, their owners are always the most friendly when it comes to letting others touch or sit inside their cars. It’s the exact opposite of the guy with the super smooth paint the “do not touch” signs.

The holes that riddle the side of the car bring to mind images of the automobiles of Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, and other notorious criminals of the past.

Another interesting tidbit about this story is that a few weeks prior to Speed Week, Cam actually sent us a photo of the Model A as part of the #Featurethis program, so I was already somewhat familiar with the car. Once Greg told me that he was that he was the one who built the car, and I was really interested in talking to Cam and hearing his story about picking up the car.

And what a story it is. Cam and his mates from the Ratbags Car Club in New Zealand flew in to LA and instead of booking hotels and rental cars like most international travelers they did things a bit differently.

They picked up this old Dodge RV somewhere in SoCal for 2,500 bucks and then set out on a big American road trip. The first leg of the trip was up to Washington where the guys met with Greg and Cam finally hopped behind the wheel of his new Model A.

The RV picked up plenty of personalization along the way.

Once Cam had taken delivery of the car, him and his buddies joined up with Greg and his crew for the trip out to Bonneville.

Just looking at Cam, I could tell he was absolutely ecstatic. And how could he not be?

After all, he had just picked up his dream car and now he was experiencing one of the world’s great motoring events with a group of his closest friends. What could be better?

Speed Week was actually just part of the road trip for these guys though. After a few days on the salt, they would head out across the Southwest visiting places like the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas before returning to LA and shipping the car to New Zealand. In the course of three weeks Cam would give the Model A a proper break-in, putting over 3,000 miles on it.

As you read this, the car is likely on a ship somewhere in the Pacific as it makes its way toward its new home in New Zealand. Unfortunately Cam might not be there when the car arrives as he is currently living in Australia for work. He says his family will look over the car while he’s gone though.

So essentially what we are looking at is an American Rat Rod version of the European Delivery program. Just replace the BMW or Mercedes with a mean looking Model A. Replace the high tech car factory with a blue collar Hot Rod shop in Washington and replace the Autobahn and Nurburgring with Bonneville and the wide open American West.

Just like ordering a new Bimmer or Benz, buying a Hot Rod overseas and then traveling across the country to pick it up may not be a cheap undertaking, but I could tell that the memories being made were priceless.


Chassis :

Custom-built 2x3x120 Chassis, 6″ Z-Frame and  22″ Kick-Up

Rear Coilover Shocks

Front Suicide Spring Kit

Body :

1930 Ford Model A Two-Door Sedan

4″ Chop

Filled Roof

Custom Firewall

Engine and Drivetrain:

305 SBC

Edelbrock Carb

HEI Ignition

Center-dump Manifolds

700R4 Overdrive Transmission

10-Bolt Rearend with 3.73 Gears


Reversed Corvair Steering Box

Wheels & Tires:

Lester Tire Whitewall Bias Ply

Model A Wire Wheels



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Incredible, just incredible.


not featured, but...a dually rat rod.  bad ass
also, where's the obligatory wooden doorknob like hand crank thing on the steering wheel?
if there is any, i'd like to see more of the dually rat rod.  is that a tow boom on the back?


Those cars look just like sailor jerry's rat rod (google it)


It has already had a feature, its about a page or two back


My old man took the trip to the salt and had met these guys, hung out with them a bit, being from NZ as well.Pretty small world! 


Sometimes something thats too ugly looks too nice. Perfect example in this article:P


And the third rod in the group shot, the one with modern wheels? Please Mr Garrett?


Was this the one that was on our NZ police show getting pulled up speeding to the ferry?? 


The rims on this car are most certainly from a 1935 Ford, being 16" diameter. The smallest rim circumference put on the Model A was 19" in diameter and very slender. The front rims *might* be 17" diameter (hard to tell because of the different tires), which would be stock on '33-'34 Fords.


The rims on this car are not stock Model A rims. They are 1935 Kesley Hayes rims, 16" diameter. The giveaway is the curved spokes - stock Fords in 1935 came with straight spokes.
1928-'29 Model A came stock with 21" rims.
1930-'31 Model A came stock with 19" rims.
1932 Fords came stock with 18" rims.
1933-'34 Fords came stock with 17" rims.
1935 Fords came stock with 16" rims. Kelsey Hayes made specialty rims to match, with the curved spokes.


great effort guys, I was living in Washington State for 30 years on and off and got into the hot rod scene, still have a  67 Camaro sitting in a garage there...thinking of having it shipped to NZ in a month or two. Would have liked to take it to the salt but never got the chance, even started setting the car up for the event, ex gave away the rear end I was going to use last summer...