As often seems the way these days, people put so much hard work into building their cars, that once completed, they’re reluctant to take them out of the shed as often as they once did. Bruce Jones, who by day is half of Auckland hot rod building business Rodz Doctr, falls squarely into that category.
After ‘retiring’ a few years back, he soon found his shed at home was full of not only his own cars, but plenty of friends’ cars, then customer cars, and so the business was started, and today, during his supposed retirement, he’s busier than ever.
Amongst the cars in his shed are a selection of hot rods, all finished to his same high standard, and as such, not driven as much as they should be.
It was with this in mind that he thought he’d slap together a quick build that he wasn’t going to be too precious about, and that could be driven, parked, lent out, leaned on and generally abused. Of course, along the way, the hot rodder in him didn’t really let that happen, and while he’s not overly precious about the car, it’s worked out to be a far better build than he ever intended it to be.
A long-time Nascar fan, and having previously owned a four-door 1959 Fairlane, he knew that a two-door version was what he needed, and he didn’t have to go far to find one. “My next door neighbour had it sitting in bits in his shed. It had been worked on by a few people, then sold in bits a couple of times, and finally ended up with him. The interior was trimmed, but the rest was just a pile of parts. It was completely the wrong way to start a build like this,” Bruce remembers.
With the neighbour losing interest, Bruce soon collected all the parts, shipped them next door and set about assembling them into a car. The fact a motor wasn’t included in the purchase didn’t phase him in the slightest, as he already had a 352ci big block from a ’59 Thunderbird that would do the trick nicely.
While the body was sent off to Truck Collision Repairs to be straightened out and sprayed, Bruce took the engine to the workshop, pulled it apart and freshened it up in preparation for the body’s to return. To make it look the part, as much as aid performance, an alloy Edelbrock manifold was added, as was an Edelbrock carb. His accumulated spare parts pile — the by-product of years of building hot rods — was also raided for a Street Fire ignition and a pair of Flowsound mufflers. The stepped headers on the other hand he custom-made for the job and were a bit of a brain-teaser to build, as they needed to snake their way around the steering box and clutch linkage.
The brief given to Truck Collision Repairs for the bodywork and paint was for it to look like an old Nascar, and that it couldn’t be shiny. With this in mind the roof was sprayed in Chrysler Warm Gray, and the lower body in Chrysler Dark Taupe. Don’t worry if you didn’t notice the difference at first sight, you’re not alone.
Once painted, a friend pointed out to Bruce that it looked like a big chocolate turd … and hence the name Team Chocco Racing was created and passed on to Com-Fleet Graphics, who looked after the signwriting on the car. With a few other assorted period-style sponsor logos applied and a No. 27 on the door, the look was beginning to take shape.
Of course for the true Nascar look, it needed steel rims and tyres with exposed lettering, and Bruce knew exactly where to get them, “Cardwell’s supply the rims, you just need to specify what backspacing etc. you need, and they’ll sort out the rest.” What Bruce went for was a deceivingly wide 10-inches on the rear and eight inches on the front, both wrapped in Cooper Cobra rubber.
To bring the ride height down a bit, and improve braking, all in one hit, a pair of XF Falcon front struts were fitted along with matching discs and calipers. A remote-mounted brake booster aids with pedal pressure, while the stock rear drums take care of the rear.
The final piece of the puzzle was to re-fit the huge amount of chrome and alloy body trim, along with the already trimmed interior, which works surprisingly well with the style and colour of the car.
With a four-speed Toploader gearbox backing up the big block, the car drives just as well as it looks. The exhaust makes it sound like it’s got plenty more power than it does, but that’s a fact Bruce is happy with, as the car was only ever meant to be a sedate cruiser. If it looks the part, sounds the part, and drives nicely, what more could you ask for in a car that you’re trying not to care too much about?
1959 Ford Custom 300 – Specifications
Engine: 352ci Ford big block, Edelbrock Performer carb, Edelbrock intake, Street Fire ignition, 2 1/2-inch stepped headers, Flowsound mufflers
Driveline: Ford Toploader 4-speed manual gearbox, 9-inch diff, 3.7:1 ratio
Suspension: XF Falcon front struts, stock rear
Brakes: XF Falcon disc conversion, remote booster, stick rear
Wheels/tyres: 15×8 and 15×10-inch steel rims, 235/60R15 and 295/60R15 Cooper Cobra tyres
Exterior: Chrysler Warm Gray roof, Chrysler Dark Taupe body, custom graphics
Interior:Full retrim, Hurst shifter
Bruce Jones – Driver Profile
Occupation: Mechanic/Rod Doctor
Previously Owned Cars: ’59 4-door Fairlane, plenty of Fairmonts and Holdens, VG Valiant coupe
Dream Car: 1967 Pontiac GTO
Why the Custom 300?: Too many shiny cars in the shed and I love Nascar
Build Time: Two years
Length of Ownership: Two years
Bruce thanks: Rodz Doctr, Com-Fleet Graphics, Truck Collision Repairs
Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Adam Croy
This article is from NZV8 issue 86. Get your copy here.
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