Friday, 21 February 2014

Trash or treasure...

Haven't been doing heaps of driving this week due to a torn calf muscle (while skateboarding) still healing. No it wasn't anything crazy. Turns out I'm just old. *sigh*

However, with us heading for my old stomping ground it was a perfect excuse to drop into my old digs and see if I had some stuff (read junk) stored under the house. The tenants are good friends of mine and they were pleased to see me and my 7yo son.

So with a few screws undone, Mr 7 was sent under the house to retrieve a few things. Sadly, he's not all that strong and I had to climb under as well. I was really there looking for a seat and a few stock rims.

I was in for a surprise!

A pair of 7" oldschool rims and some old rally tyres I forgot I left behind. STOKED!

This is really cool. The rims are a bit crusty, but after looking up the tyre size and model it seems they'll go straight on the rim without any dramas. I am a little concerned about the width of the rims, but I think it should be ok. If not, I'll throw them on some stock rims instead. They're only 195s anyway.

The two stock rims will get some rally steer tyres. I used these on my old beach buggy and they transformed the car on dirt.

At this point a few of you will twig to the fact that I'm strapping rally tyres on a classic VW. A classic, original paint, VW from 1956. Yep, well spotted.

Cars are made to be driven.

I should say, these tyres don't represent a huge outlay in cost. The 4 of these tyres cost me 1/4 tank of fuel and a case of beer. The steer tyres will owe me about $50. Sure, they're all old and hard, however, they're miles ahead of any road tyre on the dirt. And they'll probably last up to 10 years of dirt khanas.

Next up is the seat. This actually came out of a J&S buggy I bought and rebuilt over a decade ago. It's vintage is probably the late 1960's. I know, but the car is a 56'. Yeah, true.

I've actually been researching sports seats from the 1950's. Geez, I'm such a nerd sometimes.

The current trend is bomber seats or similar. Bare, seats made from flat sheet or hand beaten aluminium. Thing is, they were only really common in the early 50's. And they were a dry lake/hot rod thing. Some race cars used them, but by the mid to late 50's you had much different looking seats.

This interior is from a 1956' Ferrari race car. Now it's hard to know exactly what's underneath the red leather, but I'm guessing it looks kind of like the fibreglass bucket above. It might be sheet ali or a frame, but the effect is pretty similar. Besides all that, fibreglass was being used on whole car bodies by 53' (Chevy Corvette), so I figured why not.

Also, why bother re-inventing the wheel?

In truth, the bucket is in pretty bad condition. It was the worse of the two that came with the car way back when. I need to decide whether to fix it or use it as a mould for a new seat. I've got plenty of fibreglass matt from my dunebuggy days. I'll just have to see how lazy I'm feeling.

BTW, I mentioned the whole "period club racer" aim. Sure, the motor doesn't fit this, but I want the rest of the car to in terms of look. The interesting thing is that in the late 50's/early 60's, there wasn't a lot on offer for VWs locally. Gene Berg and Empi were just getting grips with the cars. All you could buy until about 66' were some engine upgrades (now outdated) and a camber compensator.

The wheels, webers and speed accessories at the time were all hand made and hard to get outside the US.

In Australia, these parts were VERY expensive. Most early club racers and enthusiasts made their own. My mechanic tells me stories of his father over-boring barrels and finding pistons to build his own 1500 big bore kit in the early 60's. Unfortunately, the barrels tended to be a bit thin and warp when they got too hot.

So while the trend these days is to buy repros of the old parts and throw cubic dollars at their cars, I won't be doing that. I'd prefer ol' Aussie ingenuity.

VWs won big racing events in 1950's in Australia. The pic above is the finish of the 1955 REDeX trial. They finished 1-2 against much more powerful cars.

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