My First Roadster

My First Roadster
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My First Roadster

By Dave Brackett

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In the summer of 1963, I decided to build a roadster. This time I wanted a performance car as I had been helping others with drag race cars and was leaning toward that endeavor. My welding skills had improved and I was ready to tackle a complete custom vehicle. My decision was to build a "C" Modified Roadster for the street. I sketched up the car with 50% engine setback and a 23" T body stradling the rear end. The only problem I saw was making rear suspension with a very short distance between the tranny and rear end. I thought I could machine up something if I got a short transmission. Using an Offenhauser X-Shift Transmission was the answer, since it was aluminum, it saved weight and was very short, so I machined an adapter to mount the trans to a early Ford torque tube that was only 8 inches long.

I bought a fiberglass 23' T body, picked up a 283 Chevy motor and early Ford rear end from the junkyard and laid everything out in the garage. I could build a chassis, but had no means to bend tubing, so I had a chassis builder bend up the rails for me. I picked up the basic rails with bends to clear the rear end and proceded to add a perch for transversal front spring. Using short coil springs from a helper spring set, the rear end was mounted with very short split wishbones about 13" long. Little shocks from a Nash Metropolitan were added to dampen the rear suspension. I built a straight tube front axle with tube wishbones and friction shocks for the front, cut down Ford spindles to lighten them, there was no front brakes.

 

23 T 2a1

Dave Brackett, Anaheim, CA, uses his wild ‘T’ on the street and as a push car at the local drags.

 

After mounting the motor, the body was the next task. Since you sat behind the rear axle, I had to lengthen the body 8" to allow for a reclining sitting position. I molded a recessed section on the rear for tail and brake lights and designed and molded a custom fibreglass dash. I wanted a low profile windshield, but could not find one, so I bent one out of Plexiglas and mounted that. A small Crosley steering box and long drag link finished the chassis.
23 T 2h
Since you sat behind the rear axle, I had to lengthen the body 8" to allow for a reclining sitting position
  23 T 2d
I molded a recessed section on the rear for tail and brake lights.
   
     
23 T 2g   23 T 2e
Designed and molded a custom fibreglass dash.
   
23 T 2f
As if the Chevy mill wasn’t enough, Dave installed a 671 GMC blower & Dual Four-Barrel Carburetor setup. It’s fully licensed for street.
 

23 T 2c
In late 64" I raced the car at local drag strips with Leon Fitzgerald driving

   

I was working at Tyree Header Company in Fullerton, Ca., so I brought home parts and built headers and custom baffles to slide in the long collectors. The stock 283 Chevy motor had a steel crank, so I decided to run a 6.71 blower with two four barrel carbs. I ported and polished the heads, added bigger exhaust valves and installed a Potvin cam, springs and retainers. The drive train was completed with a Schieffer Clutch and Wedge Bellhousing.

Next was the blower setup, money was scarce so I had to be creative. I had been working at Mickey Thompson's for a while, so I bought castings for a blower drive setup, took them to the college machine shop and built my own blower drive. Now I visited Potvin, who was the blower king at the time, and he gave me enough parts to build my own blower. The paddles had the stub shafts ripped out, so I machined spacers and shrunk fit the stub shafts back in. I did buy a rear blower plate and steel ringed the front bearings. Next I fabricated a plate to mount two four barrel carbs and adapted a Scott blower scoop to fit the carbs.

In late 64" I raced the car at local drag strips with Leon Fitzgerald driving, we usually won our class, C Modified Roadster. I was now ready to drive the car on the street, so I did the upholstery, painted and pinstriped the car, registered it as a 23' Ford Model T, and started driving it to work. Glenn McCulloch, ace mechanic of the MuCulloch and Brown AA Gas Dragster, was always available when I need a tune up. I continued racing the car for years, breaking the record many times and besting 140 mph in the low tens, not bad for a street legal car. I had problems with the old Ford tapered axles breaking, so had Henry's Machine Shop redo the rear end with 50' Merc axles and brakes, much better. In early 1965, it was the only car I had, driving it daily to Hooker Headers, where I worked. Luckily I did piece work, so if it was raining, I stayed home.