Generally there are only two reasons to acquire a nickname like Scotty. Either it’s part of your name, as in Scott Nomates, or you’d receive it if you turned up on these shores sounding as if you had recent Caledonian heritage. Steven Landsborough was no doubt christened Scotty the first time he opened his mouth when he stepped on Kiwi soil 16¯years ago. It was a long way to come for a piss-up and a working holiday, but it was a trip that changed his life. “I came down for a 25th wedding anniversary and to have a look round. I got a part-time job to make a bit of cash, liked the job and the country, so decided to stay,” he says, laughing. That job was at Ivan Jones Engineering, and Ivan was to have a huge influence over the direction Scotty’s life was about to take. “He not only gave me a job, he helped in any way he could with the crap I had to go through with immigration and, further down the track a bit, to buy into the business.” He also introduced young Steven to hot rods and drag racing. Scotty explained it like this: “There’s no’ a lot of V8s in the UK, and they’re expensive, so it never really crossed my mind, although I was unta fust cars. But with Ivan being right into it, and sponsoring some of the New Plymouth street drags, I soon found myself a nice ’69 Umpala and he kept on at me in an attempt to get me to race it. I wasnae keen, I didnae want to wreck it, but he wore me doon and eventually I entered. Damned if I didn’t do more runs than everyone else put together, I hadda great time.”
Deciding he wanted to build a hot rod he could drag race occasionally, and wanting something a bit uncommon, Scotty got all excited when Ivan found an ad in the Auto Trader for an unfinished ’29 Dodge coupe. Scotty dialled up the bloke for a chat and purchased it over the phone. “He asked me if I was going to race it or rod it and I told him hot rod, because that was the plan at the time. I’ve since sent him some pictures and he said if I wanted to sell it he’d be keen to get it back, and he regretted selling it. I haven’t told him about the big motor yet.” A hasty nine-month build period commenced. “I basically threw it together as quickly as I could for two reasons: firstly Ivan had been diagnosed with cancer and we didn’t know how long he’d be able to race, and he desperately wanted us to race together; and secondly, my old man was coming over from Scotland to visit, and I wanted to take him for a ride in it. At the end of each season I promised it a tidy-up and paint job, but you can’t rush these things. Ivan always said it should look like it’s just been pulled from a barn it’s sat in for years.”
Initially thrown together with a 454ci (7440cc) motor, the coupe was campaigned for a year before an upgrade to the 522 (8554cc) out of Ivan’s race truck, as Ivan decided he wanted more cubes. Although a good step up from the 454, the engine had run over 200 hard passes and ran the big ends at the end of the season. “I ended up sending it to a so-called engine specialist to get rebuilt, but it threw a rod out the side not three quarters of the way through the season. We were gutted after spending all that money; for another two grand we could have bought the same engine brand new from Reher Morrison. When I stripped my broken engine apart I could not believe what it was like on the inside. I talked to the engine builder about these issues; he didn’t even listen to a word I said. Needless to say I have lost a lot of respect for this company, you cannot guarantee race engines, but you don’t have to put up with shoddy workmanship.”
After that experience, a Reher Morrison engine looked like a bargain. Reher Morrison, of course, got into the crate power business after learning how to make big block mumbo in NHRA Pro Stock racing, the tightest, toughest category in drag racing, in which the difference between not qualifying and winning is measured in hundredths of a second. Those guys do things the right way. Starting with the rock solid foundation of a correctly machined Dart big M block, they fill it with a quality rotating assembly, a 4.25-inch Callies crank, Clevite bearings, R&M-spec Manley H-beam rods, and R&M custom 14.1:1 pistons with R&M rings. Redline oil is pumped through this puppy by an R&H/Moroso oil pump, ensuring the rods will never have to go outside the engine looking for lubrication ever again.
Of course, those 565 cubes (9259cc) won’t make much power if they can’t breathe, so Dart Big Chiefs cylinder heads were called into service once the team at R&M had waved the die grinder at them and stuffed them full of Manley titanium valves, humungous springs, shaft-mounted roller rockers and other bullet-proof related hardware. The pushrods are R&M items, as is the custom ground camshaft, which is spun by a Jesel belt drive in order to absorb any nasty valvetrain harmonics. Intake duties are handled by what else, a Dart Big Chief single plane intake manifold plumbed for a Nitrous Oxide fogger system. Between that and the Gary Williams-modified 1150cfm Dominator, there’s a heat insulating phenolic one-inch carb spacer produced, by yes, that’s right, Dart. The big four-barrel is fed by an Aeromotive AR2000 fuel pump, filter and four-port regulator. There’s also a separate BG220 fuel pump for the as yet unused NOS. An MSD 7AL-3 box amplifies the spark and performs other black box trickery, only it’s red.
Reher Morrison also uses a MSD crank trigger for precise timing, MSD leads and an MSD coil to light the fires. All those spent gasses find their way out of the engine through a huge set of headers made by Scotty. There are the usual race car accessories, a Moroso vacuum pump to aid ring seal, and a Meziere electric water pump drive, because every bit of power saved is power you don’t have to go looking for. The result is 1050 normally aspirated ponies (783kW), don’t you just love the crate motor concept? It just makes sense.
Chuck Mann from Rotorua is a well-known rodder who has built and had input into lots of drag racing machinery, but what he’s best known for nowadays is building tough — really tough — TH400 transmissions. Chuck’s responsible for this one, and it’s proved “hard-assed enough.” Converter stall speed is 5800rpm, and the hard-on-its-haunches launches show the torque curve and converter are a pretty good match. A driveshaft built by Beatty’s in Auckland passes the power back to a Strange engineering diff head and 35-spline axles.
To keep the front end pointed where it’s supposed to be there are some 15 by six-inch Centreline wheels mounted to a Rods by Reid front end. This is fitted with Holden brakes and double adjustable AFFCO coil-over shocks. Following the original chassis rails back to just in front of the rear wheels, you’ll notice Scotty has boxed the chassis rails, added new cross members and a complete new rear sub frame to accommodate the 15 by 15-inch Convo Pros and Goodyears.
To tie the new back half to the old front half there’s an eight-point roll cage, also built by Scotty. Another set of AFFCO shocks and some Competition Engineering ladder bars hold the diff in the maximum traction position, and it doesn’t sit half bad either. Scotty also threw the electric glue gun at the wheelie bars and the cross link bar, to help keep the old Dodge on the straight and narrow. Stance is all-important when building a hot rod, and if ‘mean as a junkyard dog’ was the aim, then this car rings all the right bells.
The roof chop, panel-work and black paint were originally performed in Motueka by Griff’s Panelbeaters before Scotty purchased the car, but the rear half had to be redone once the beast was tubbed. The ’32 Ford grille shell throws a few folk as it doesn’t look at all out of place — the coupe is not unlike a Model A, but it doesn’t quite look like one, either. And despite what Scotty says, it’s not at all untidy.
Inside there’s not much room for a terrified journalist to hide, there are all these bars in the way. But there are a couple of Jamex bucket seats, a B&M shifter and a Sportline steering wheel to hang onto, and some Auto Meter gauges to look at, although how much looking Scotty does on a 9.09 pass would be open to conjecture. He had plenty of time to look at them while cruising at Americarna with a NZV8 staffer on board, and managed to put a frightened grin upon said scribe’s face while demonstrating both the Dodge’s acceleration and street-ability.
There is an awful lot to like about a low — very low — nine-second street car, and there’s more in it yet. It’s a heavy old beast at more than 1500kg, but an eight-second pass is so close, and the nitrous is yet to be turned on. Scotty would like to put a few more strip miles on the old girl before putting it back on the street with a little — very little — less power. “If I put this motor into a lightweight altered or something, we would be into the low sevens with a crate motor; it’s a stress-free way to go racing in a fast car.
“I would like to thank two very special people: my wife (Glenda) firstly, for putting up with me and my racing. When I was running my car and also Ivan’s race truck, it did take a lot of my time and a lot of weekends away racing, and without her support it would have made it very hard. She keeps telling me that the car, racing, kids and my Dodge truck come before her, but they do not. To Ivan, who passed away last Easter, who helped me settle here, thanks for everything. There was never a dull moment with Ivan, and the 16¯years I knew him are 16¯years I will never forget.”
1929 Dodge Coupe
Engine: Reher Morrison Super Series 565ci (9259cc) Big Block Chevrolet, Dart Big M block, Dart 14-degree square port Big Chief CNC ported aluminium heads, Reher Morrison fabricated aluminium billet rail valve covers, Manley custom titanium valves (2.450-inch intake and 1.850-inch exhaust) Manley 1.640-inch double roller valve springs, Manley 10-degree titanium retainers, shaft mounted rocker arms (1.75 ratio intake, 1.70 exhaust) Reher Morrison custom chrome-moly pushrods, Fel Pro blue stripe perm-torque head gaskets, custom Reher Morrison cam, Jesel belt drive system, Crower severe duty roller lifters. Reher Morrison/ Manley 4340 H-beam rods, ARP 2000 bolts, Clevite bearings, Diamond straight wall tool steel wrist pins, Reher Morrison Custom 14:1 Pistons, Reher Morrison ring set, Callies 4340 4.250-inch stroke Magnum crankshaft, MSD 7AL3, MSD leads, MSD HVC coil, Mallory comp 9000 distributor, MSD crank trigger, Dart-Big Chief single plane intake manifold, one-inch Dart-phenolic carb spacer, Aeromotive AR2000 fuel pump, Aeromotive filter and four-port regulator for main fuel line, BG 220 fuel pump and filter for the nitrous system, Reher Morrison/ Gary Williams 1150cfm Dominator carburettor, two 5/8-inch pipes into a five-inch collector
Driveline: Turbo 400 transmission 5800 rpm stall converter, Strange 35-spline axles and diff head
Wheels/tyres: Centreline Convo Pro, 15×6-inch and 15×15-inch, 32-inch Goodyear slicks
Brakes: Holden discs and callipers
Suspension: Ladder bar, AFFCO coil-overs
Chassis: Back Halved, boxed front, eight-point cage
Exterior: Roof chopped, custom black paint, Ford grille shell
Interior: Sportline steering wheel, B&M Shifter, Jamex bucket seats, Auto Meter gauges
Performance: 9.094 seconds, best mph 149.5 (240.5kph), 1050hp (783kW, no NOS)
Occupation: Manager/ owner/ engineer, Ivan Jones Engineering
Build time: Nine months
Length of ownership: Five years
Why the Dodge? “I wanted to build something a bit different and Ivan saw this car in Auto Trader, so we rang the guy up and I bought it over the phone. He asked me if I was going to race it or hot rod it. I told him of course I was going to hot rod it, as I was at the time. I sent some pictures of the car when it was finished and he told me if I was going to sell it he would buy it back, and that he regretted actually selling it. He doesn’t know that it has a 565¯cubic inch engine in it yet.”
Dream car: 300C Chrysler
Previously Owned cars: 1969 Chev Impala, 1989 GMC pick-up truck, 2001 Dodge Ram, supercharged, lowered, on 22-inch mags (current)
Scotty thanks: Glenda, and my wee ones Abigail and Madison, Willie Roach of Eagle Automotive in New Plymouth, Hobbs Davy Auto Electrical, Dave Kindberg of Normanby Upholstery, Kevin Barkla Painters, Andrew Purser Panelbeaters, Reher Morrison — USA, Red Line oil, CJ from C&M Performance, Chuck Mann, Craig Bennet — Hawera Automotive, who I should have got to rebuild my 522.
All my staff at work for covering me when I am away racing and a special thanks to the pit crew I have had this year, Don Bright and Matty Neil from my work, their commitment this year has been outstanding.