Archive for the ‘’36 Roadster’ Category

IMG_8821.JPGIt seems like a long time since I worked on the trailer, in reality, it’s only been a couple weeks.  I’ve decided that the goal of making Camp Dearborn and the Tin Can Tourist Spring Rally isn’t going to happen, so I’ve slowed down a bit, but I’ve still gotten quite a bit done.

IMG_8799The new axle is under the trailer, and the Dodge 17″ 8 lug wheels and Michelon 24575R17 10 ply rated tires are on.  The trailer now looks like ours, it looks good and feels good having that chore done.  In addition, both waste tanks are under the trailer and the plumbing is 90% complete, so there are three things (almost) checked off the list.  Most of the trim is done inside, I have to steam and bend a couple pieces of quarter round, and cut the hole in the roof for the fridge and hot water heater vent, finally get the interior varnished, and a thousand other little jobs that I haven’t even thought of yet.

IMG_8800I’ve taken advantage of the lack of a rush on the trailer, to finally start organizing and working on the ’34 Ford roadster project I bought last fall after selling the ’48 Pontiac convertible.  I lifted the body off the frame, and made a (sort of) frame table/jig using two Stanley Work-Mates and some steel rectangular tubing.  I have the frame leveled, squared, tacked together, the engine mounts are in, and the front axle is hanging from the crossmember.  I’ve started welding the center section in,  and will get the  ’40 Ford rear crossmember flattened and in tomorrow.  At least, that’s the plan…


So, that’s what’s happening here at Cool McCool’s Garage, progress on two fronts!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Cool McCool’s Garage, where we don’t just wear green, we DRIVE it!

A friend of ours in Las Vegas emailed the other day to ask if I’d seen the ’36 was listed on eBay again.  I didn’t, so I followed the link he sent to the ad.Sg_800

It’s listed by an  exotic car dealership in KY, for the staggering price of $44,900.  I’m not sure if a guy browsing a showroom of Lambo’s is going to be attracted to my chopped down old Ford, but good luck to them.  The car looks the same as it did, with the exception of a cheesy “street-rod-y” Dolphin tach in the dash waterfall (that doesn’t go with any of the rest of the dash) and the addition of LOTS of over-wrought  pinstriping.  I have to say that the wheels do look better, with the center spiders and striping, but the rest of it is a little overdone.  It’s supposed to be simple.

The sparse description, mostly “Runs and Drives GREAT”, while maybe not an outright lie, is wildly optimistic at best.  It DOES look stunning, and it runs like scalded cat, but “…Drives GREAT!”, uh, no.

More apt would be, “This car could KILL you in a heartbeat!”, but, why spoil their fun?

But, it’s not mine any more, so what do I know.

My friend Bill McGuire, who was responsible for it getting published in Hot Rod, offered that the extra embellishments just distract from the car, and that it was “complete”, as I’d built it.

Thanks Bill.

I’d add that while it’d have been nice to have gotten more for when I sold it, my feeling is that whoever buys it, for whatever amount, isn’t going to enjoy it as much as I did.  Either in planning, building, or driving it.  The statement that the car makes, and I humbly submit it’s a car that NO ONE has ever done anything like before, will be an influence in the Hot Rodding scene for years to come.  Buying it isn’t the same as building it.

I had a great time with the car, I tripled my money on it, got a little notoriety with it, and let it move on.  It’s a Win/Win, as far as I can see.

And like my buddy John said,  “Brian, that’s always going to be YOUR car.”

True that, John.

Ladies and gentlemen, a moment of silence please, the ’36 Special has left the building.    The car is now, hopefully, at its new home in Alabama, and we have an empty bay in the garage. 

We met the transporter in Richland last Saturday morning, on our way to Nat’s North, and the Fordillac, seen here being driven by the ONLY other person besides myself ever to get behind the wheel, disappeared into the upper deck of the hauler.   Once the deal was done, I only drove the car twice.  Here, and once to the Gilmore Museum, where I photographed it in front of the new Model A museum. 

Enjoy a few pictures of those two last drives as the car fades into memory.  





























So, that’s it.  I feel strangely liberated seeing it gone.  Some things I’ve wanted to have happen with the rest of the collection can finally get done, and that feels good. 

It was a GREAT ride.

Here at Cool McCool’s Garage, our panel of automotive styling experts and Hot Rod Historians sometimes don’t always agree on what’s “Hot”, and what’s “Not”.  This year, our executive committee traveled over 10 miles to attend the NSRA “Nats North”, right here in sunny Kalamazoo, MI.  We didn’t all agree on the cars, but we did agree it was a great weekend, that we got to hang out with some great friends, and that we managed to not spend all our project money on, well, another project.  (Thanks John Hall for letting the CEO off the hook on the Riv’s when the CFO put the brakes on the Riviera project).  Anyway, without further ado, our panel of experts now present, in maybe no particular order, what’s “Hot”, and what’s “Not” in Hot Rodding, 2012…

Hot, hot, hot.  Pagan Gold ’40 Ford Coupe.  And, yes, it’s got a Hemi in it.  From the white firewall, white walls, and just enough “bling” to be period correct, but still a “real” car, this was a standout.

Remember the ’80’s?  Of course you do, how could you forget when you’re reminded of it every time you look at your ’40 Ford Coupe and realize you now can’t afford to paint over that God-awful pastel pink paint job you thought was so cool?  Even if you still sort of liked the grey tweed interior, you know it’ll cost 20 large to undo what you did back then.  Of course, those Jordasche jeans don’t look any  better on you now either… 

There were, of course, even worse examples of this sad, but popular trend, but, this particular car represented the best, and the worst, of hot rodding.  Like a “Project Runway” winner, and loser, all in one.

Smok’n hot.  Traditional, tasteful mild customs, these happen to both be Fords, but they could have as easily been GM or Chrysler examples, we just didn’t see any of them in the hotel parking lot.  The fact that the shoebox belongs to drag legend Dick Lahay makes the one on the right even better.

Elvis and Jerry Lee were right.  Cadillacs are IT.  These two represent two completely different custom themes, but both got our blood boiling.  Although we have to say to the owner of the stunning red ‘vert,  “Close the bloody hood.”  It’s impossible to get the full impact of the car with the hood up.  Of course, we did get to see it with the hood down at the awards ceremony, where it, very deservedly, got a pro’s pick.   They’re both HOT.

Embarrassingly “Not Hot.”  Three old fat guys in lawn chairs could be the new NSRA logo.  WAKE UP!

A Cord 810 Cabriolet and a Packard “Speedster”.  Tell me, at what other show, anywhere, will you see two cars like this parked beside chopped up old Fords?  This is HOT, and it speaks to the creative genius, and diverse interest of car guys, and Hot Rodders, in general.  Steaming, scorching hot, and classy too. 

This is the exact opposite of either of the above photos.  From the sublime to the cheesiest of the cheesy.  This is great example of taking the easy way out, at the last possible second.  The car is actually OK, if you discount the (miles) of wavy, delaminating, stick on wheel lip molding plastered all over the car.  Really?  You couldn’t lay the stuff on straighter than that?  Seriously, didn’t the builder know you can get polished stainless quarter round trim right inside the exhibitors building?  Somebody needs to tell the owner of this (otherwise pretty cool) boat-tail ’36 to stay out of the accessory isle at AutoZone.   Dreadful, and even less hot than frozen dog turds in the back yard in Feb.

How do you like your trucks?  Traditional, of Bobber style?  These two demonstrate that whatever your taste, an eye for style and craftsmanship make either style a lasting statement.  Hot.

We’re not saying 4 door sedans aren’t “Hot”.  What we’re saying is that if you have no taste, and either not enough money to build a nice car, or too much money to throw at a car, the results can be equally, staggeringly awful.  Where to begin?  Square headlights in round fenders, or a chop that leaves the center of the top lower than either end.  20″ wheels and a paint job that says “If a little is good, too much is not enough.”  Not hot.  Either one may have been built as a joke, but we didn’t get it.

At least the “Street Beast” Vicky didn’t have fake bullet holes.  Although we’ve seen plenty that do.  Actually, even though it’s not “hot”, we have to give the builder of the (ahem) ’34 kudos for actually being able to put one of these things together.    The Boyds wheels look strangely “right” on it too.  In a really wrong kind of way…

Yeah, one’s a VW, and the other is a late ’70’s wagon.  These both show that NSRA is “Hot”, and that the leadership of the group has the stones to include stuff that will hopefully keep the organization going.  Of course, both of these cars are probably owned by guys with equally smok’n hot ’32 Highboys home in the garage, but they sure look good!

Flames.  Some hot, and some, not.  Which is which?  You decide.  We won’t tell you, but two of them will still look good in 20 years, and one will leave people scratching their heads wondering why those colors were chosen. 

So, there you have it.  One fabulous weekend of rods, customs, total messes and some mind-blowing success’.  Was it fun?  You bet!  Did we eat fair food and get heartburn from the Italian sausage sandwich?  You bet?  Will we do it again?  You bet, and we’ll complain, and compliment in equal parts, knowing that our car(s) will be examined in exactly the same way. 

Please remember that the opinions expressed on this blog DO NOT neccesarily represent the opinions of the management of Cool McCool’s Garage, particularly if your car was singled out for ridicule.  Also, remember that we here have made some dreadful mistakes of our own, and have, from time to time, committed sins against style on hapless old cars in an attempt to emulate popular, but misguided, trends just becaue we could. 

More news and illustration of questionable taste and judgement will follow in our next episode,  where we’ll show you where the money from the ’36 Special is going.

Stay tuned!

Going, going, gone.

Posted: September 11, 2012 in '36 Roadster, Hot Rod, Rat Rod, Real Hot Rods

Don’t look back.   That’s what I’m trying to do.  Some guy who’d been contacting me on and off for a year now called about the ’36, and in a moment of weakness (or perhaps a moment of clarity, I’m not yet sure), I surprised myself by accepting his (rather lowball) offer on the ’36. 

Why sell it? 

Lot’s of practical reasons.  First off, we have not one, not two, not even three, but 4 other hot rods/customs in the garage, and each and every one needs something.  I want to finish the Diamond T to a level I’ve not taken with a project.  The ’48 Pontiac is crying for a decent interior to replace the awful early 90’s Caddy seats I stuck in it temporarily over 10 years ago, and it needs a new top.   The T’Bird needs the windshield chop completed,  repainted and the original front drum brakes and spindles put back on in place of the LTDII stuff I put on back when I sanded the paint off it.  The ’51 wagon needs a heater/defroster and wipers before we head out on vacation to the Blue Ridge Parkway in three weeks.  Maybe even A/C.

From an emotional standpoint, the roadster had become sort of like my long gone Harley Panhead.  I like it.  I like seeing it crouched in the garage, like it’s ready to go tear somenes head off,  but the reality of driving it isn’t the thrill it was initially.  I’d only put a couple hundred miles on all summer, only filled the tank twice.  Every time I got in it, I wished I’d not channeled it, left a little more suspension travel, gone with disk brakes on the front, quicker steering, a laundry list of things I’d like to do differently.

In other words, I was thinking of building a completely new chassis, which meant starting over.

Faced with the same prospect several years ago with our ’48 Spartan Manor, we sold it, built the ’46 incorperating all the things we wanted a “do-over” for.  The car is the same.  Why re-do, as oppossed to a clean slate start over?

The tipping point was a conversation with my friend John.  He summed it pretty well when he said, “That’s always going to be YOUR car.   Every time this guy shows it, takes it anywhere, people will ask, ‘Did you build it?’, and he’ll have to say, ‘No, some guy in Michigan built it, I just bought it.’  You had the vision, built it, got famous with it in Hot Rod.  It’s still always going to be YOUR car.”

Very true.  I had fun designing it.  I had fun collecting the parts and putting them together.  I even had fun working out the myriad “bugs” the car had initially, and I really had fun seeing it published in Hot Rod magazine, a life-long dream.I even made money, pretty serious money, on it, and that doesn’t happen very often with collector cars.  It’s true the per/hour rate wasn’t as much as had I worked as many hours of overtime, but how much fun would that have been?   It certainly beat what I’d have made watching TV.

Sort of like hitting the Trifecta.

Will I replace it something else?  I’m sure that SOMETHING will come along, after all, nature (and avacant garage stall)  abhors a vacuum.  I have a couple of cars left in me, I just need to decide that will be.  I’ve got a couple of ideas swirling around, but nothing has “jelled” yet.  The “to do” list above is certainly long enough, and something else will probably (definitely) have to go before another project is started. 

We’ll see.

For now,  I’m not regretting the decision to let it go, and we’ll see what happens from here.








Addendum:  I should also add to the list of things to be done that the Chris Craft needs a new bottom,  much of the decking replaced, and new seat covers.   There’s also the “new” ’47 Manor in the back yard that I promised the orignal owners I was going to restore.   I need to re-build (again!) the pump for the plow for the GMC, after all winter is coming, and I’d really like to re-hab Craigs Mustang convert.  All of a sudden, all that money seems to be spent…

Well, there goes the neighborhood.  First one old trailer moves in on Thursday afternoon, then another, and another, and another, untill by Saturday, 30 or so vintage campers crowded onto the Gilmore Museums display grounds.  Property values, thought to have hit rock bottom in Michigan, plummeted even further as more and more of the rolling relics of the TCT moved in.

Kim and I rolled in Thursday afternoon, and set up camp as close as we could get to the electric board.  The museum had some dying Ash trees removed recently, and the crews accidentally dug up the power cable while grinding the stumps, but they had it fixed in time for the Happy Campers arrival, although the “No A/C use please” rule is still in effect. 

By Saturday morning, roughly 30 campers rolled in to park on the nicely shaded grounds, put the awnings out, kick back, relax and show off their rigs.  The museum reports the biggest attendance day EVER, despite the 90+ degree temps, the crowds really seemed to enjoy trailers, campers and vintage motor coaches on display. 

Kim and I had planned on staying Saturday night as well, but the threat of strong storms sent us back home, 2 1/2 miles away.  By the time we got both awnings down, we decided we might as well just go home.  Of course, then it didn’t storm at all.

We met lots of new folks, and had hundreds of people go through the Spartan and Tini-Home.  We were honored to have been chosen “Best In Show”, and the ’51 Pontiac wagon received a “Top 50” honor as well.  My personal favorite rig wasn’t a camper at all, but a ’64 Country Squire wagon pulling a mid 60’s Sanger flat bottom powered by an Ed Pink prepped, 6.71 blown, nitrous’d Ford Cammer.  I’d like to ski behind that!

Our next outing will be the “Relix Riot” at the Gilmore in two weeks.  Since the ’36 didn’t sell, we’ll still have a “traditional hot rod” to take…

Enjoy the pictures, and hopefully we’ll see you there next year!




















































































If we missed anybody, my apologies.  It’s a busy weekend, and I was awfully busy setting under the awning in front of a fan drinking Vodka & Tonics.  Seriously, I did try to say hello to everybody that pulled in, and managed to only severely piss-off one guy, who had an admittedly very bad day, breaking down on the way there, and being too far from the elec. board to plug-in by the time he got there.   Hey, you can’t please everybody.



Message on my anwering machine yesterday:

“Hi Brian.  This is Ray Blah-Blah-Blah.  I like that roadster man.  PLEASE call me right away, my # is 634-5789. Call me RIGHT AWAY!”.

So, I call, get the guys voice mail.  “Hi, Brian McCool here, returning your call about the ’36.  Just got your message, give me a call anytime, I’m happy to answer any questions about the car.  Have a nice day.”

5 minutes later, phone rings:  “Hi, this is Ray Blah-Blah-Blah.  Are you calling about my car?”

Me, “Uh, no, I was returning your call about my ’36 Ford Speedster.  Is there anything you have questions about?”

Ray Blah-Blah-Blah, “Well, I’m Ray Blah-Blah-Blah from Elkhart.  You’ve prob’ly heard of me.”

Me, “No, should I have?” (I’d already read his eBay feedback, so I felt like I knew him a little…)

Ray, “Well, I’ve got 90 cars.”

Me, “Well, isn’t that nice.”

Ray, “What’s it take to buy that car today, cash money?”

Me, “Well, I expect cash money for whatever amount it sells for.  What would you like to own it for?  I’d like to let the auction run, but I’d listen to an offer.  You’re not far, why don’t you come up and check it out, see what you think?”

Ray, “I wanna know what it takes right  now, cash money.  I got 90 cars, I got three for sale right now on “Racing”.  The problem with eBay is, half them guys’ll just bid up a car and then never pay.  What’s it take to buy it, right now, cash money?”

Interesting that he should say that, half of his recent feedback said EXACTLY that.  One followed up with, “Worst eBayer EVER, this guy is a crook.”

Me,  “Well Ray, you can’t buy it right now over the phone, but it’s on the HAMB classifieds for ‘$27,500.”

Ray, “Oh, well, that means you prolly want around 25, huh?  I don’t know, that don’t leave much for me.”

Me, “No, probably not.”

Ray, “Well, I did run yer bid up for ya.  You got my number, gimme a call if ya decide ya REALLY want to sell it.”

Ray, that crackling sound you hear will be Hell freezing over, just before I pick up the phone.

Addendum:  Thanks for all the comments.  I knew when I listed it, I’d have to put up with calls like that, that’s how it goes.  If you’ve never sold cars for a living (I did for a while), this example should give you a little insight as to why car salesmen (and saleswomen) might seem a little jaded, cynical, and insincere.  It’s hard to put up with people like Old Ray from Elkhart all day and not lose a little faith in ones fellow man!

Auction time.

Posted: July 31, 2012 in '36 Roadster, Ford Roadsters

“Hey folks,  here ya go!  It’s cheaper than a box o’ rocks!  Whaddya say now, we’ll start the bidding at $5,000!”

Yes, once again I’ve decided to get annoyed with the general public, give out way too much personal information, risk sellers remorse and phoney bank drafts, scam artists and identity theft and try to sell the ’36.  Maybe I’m getting old and don’t tolerate discomfort as much as I used to, maybe I’ve finally realized I have too much stuff, or maybe I’d like to pay off some bills and set something aside for a rainy day, or maybe I’d like to build something else.  Who really knows?  

Anyway, the car is for sale at eBay, click here:

We’ll see what happens, I’ve set a reserve at less than what I think the car is worth, but more than I spent on it.  We’ve had fun, gotten famous, been stranded, and made some friends.  I guess that’s all you can expect from a car, so it’s time to move on.  We’re only caretakers of things, it’s been pointed out to me, time to move along. 

Bid early and bid often!

This week on the HAMB (Hokey Assed Message Board), a debate raged on for almost 10 pages about the latest issue, specifically, the cover shot of a Rat Rod Model “A” sedan, and a new Lambo, the subjects of a “comparison” article within.  The overwhelming response to the article, which almost NONE of the participants of the debate had bothered to read, was that HOT ROD magazine is not relevant to the current Hot Rod scene (more specifically, the “Traditional” Hot Rod genre, and that, even at about $.60 per issue, HOT ROD is a waste of money.

I disagree.

The first, and most obvious (to me anyway) reason is that if one hasn’t read “HOT ROD” (or probably read ANY magazine) for years, how can one form an opinion on that, and whether it is relevant?  To say, “I know ‘Hot ROD’ sucks.  I don’t read it but I know it doesn’t have anything to do with what I like or do”, seems  like the ultimate oxymoron.  If any of the responders had read the story in the current September issue, they’d have known the comparison was not between the cars themselves, but the experience of driving, and being seen in, these wildly diverse, over-the-top “Look at ME!” ends of the automotive spectrum. 

It’s not about the cars themselves, nor comparing their perfomance or driving characteristics,  but the individual experience of driving, and of being seen in both of them.  The experience was pretty summed by Frieburger;  “In the end, the hot rod simply reaches more people, and as one onlooker quipped, “You can by the Lambo.  You have to build the hot rod”. 

How true.  My own experience mirrors this exactly, although I’ve never owned a Lamborghini.  I HAVE owned several Corvettes, and the fun of dreaming about having one, tracking one down and buying it, far outstripped the “fun” of driving one.  People generally think you’re a prick or a poser when you’re driving one, and the only people who wave and give thumbs up are other pricks (don’t get offended if you have a ‘Vette, I instantly turn into a prick when I get in one) driving Corvettes.  They’re great cars, especially now, for the money, but they’re not very friendly cars.

To quote Frieburger again, “…I don’t like the way I feel driving it.” 

 Exactly.  That sums up my feeling about cars, and my own ’36 ‘Special” roadster.  It’s a little more refined visually, and a lot less “Rat-Rod” than the Model A sedan in the article, but it still gives you that “…worked over after a night in the county lock-up” feeling after a long drive.  It’s braking is dismal, the steering is heavy and slow, it’s brutishly over-powered and yet not particularly fast, has very limited suspension travel, and gets abysmal fuel economy.  Frankly, it’s an absolutely AWFUL car, as cars go.  It’s rolling road hazard.

That said, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on four wheels.  People love it who don’t care anything about cars.  They want to know what it is, how fast it goes, did I build it myself,  they like the colors, the upholstery (or lack of it), and marvel that it can actually be driven.  In fact the only negative comment I’ve ever had on it was from a self-proclaimed “expert” who assured me that, seeing the car parked in rather tall grass, that it couldn’t be possibly be driven, or be NSRA “legal” because of the scrub line.  Never mind that I told him I had indeed had a flat on the left front, and the grill shell, the frame, and most alarmingly (to him) the pitman arm did NOT drag on the highway and cause my demise.  He was undaunted, as these guys usually are, by facts, and was still loudly pointing out the perceived faults of the car as we walked away.

That’s precisely the kind of guy who contributed to over 8 pages and several hundred posts on the HAMB, on how badly “HOT ROD” sucks.  The kind of guy who gets ALL of his information from a free internet source because it’s easy and validates his own myopic viewpoint.  Never mind listening to the guy who built it, never mind actually reading a publication before you form and opinion, it sucks because I say it sucks, and that’s it. 

So, I’ll keep reading “HOT ROD”, not just because they had the class and good taste to feature my own car, but because every month I learn something.  I get see features that inspire me to do better, to move upwards and create something that might even be comfortable and fun to drive like the AMBR “Indy Speedster V8” roadster.   To read thoughtful, insightful articles on the likes of Carroll Shelby, and to learn that EJ Potter, “The Michigan Madman” has passed on. 

I’ll also continue to be a fan of sites like the HAMB, where, after I sift through the chaff about early 50’s 4-doors painted with Rust-O-Leum flat black and a brush, I also learn something everyday, see inspirational cars, and read about interesting and influential hot rodders.  Life, I think, is better painted from a broad palette, not just one color or one flavor, by sampling a variety of viewpoints and opinions, not just one.  Doesn’t make me a better person, but a better informed and more interesting one.

Now, back to the garage to finish the Diamond T before I start accumulating parts to build my version of that stunning Indy Speedster V8…