We Can Build Them. We Have the Technology.

Whenever I find myself wandering open-jawed through the marvelous build threads over at the H.A.M.B. I wonder to myself what might happen if some of these incredibly talented fabricators drew more inspiration from the sports car. This is particularly true when I see something like flthd31’s remarkable thread about his scratch-built ’32 Ford frame rails from plate steel or WelderSeries’s photo essay on building a Model A frame from steel tubing.

Of course, here in the States it’s still possible to find 1930’s Ford bodies at swap meets or a particularly lucky trip to the right sorts of junk yards. But I see technical drawings of Ferrari or Maserati or Fiat racing car frames from the 1940’s and 1950’s and think to myself, “those dudes that make ’32 Ford Frames could just as easily be building this.”

The only thing I can imagine is that the lack of availability of Maserati A6GCS Monofaro bodywork just stops people from making “tributes” or “replicas” or “re-creations” or whatever the nomme d’jour is for these things. Otherwise, I have to think we could have a similar homebuilder community of vintage racing cars as we have for hot-rodders. I’m sure many sporting car purists out there will disagree and think my plea for inaccurate re-creations is tantamount to sacrilege, but I just want to see more of these cars out there, and Siata sure isn’t making more of them. For me, it’s as simple as that.

Just look at these frame diagrams. This doesn’t look any harder (to this admittedly naive novice) than knocking together a frame for a street rod, and yet we almost never see a home-built barchetta. Occasionally we do see exceptionally accurate shop-build re-creations, but it’s specifically the garage builder I think of. Hell, the Maserati brothers were little more than garage builders themselves when they built these things in the first place.

Street rod masters, I humbly suggest considering that your next project be inspired by the Mille Miglia and not the Salt Flats. There are a whole lot of ’32 Fords out there and not so many Gilco-Fiats or Stanguellini Barchetta 1100s.

If you need me I’ll be ducking under my desk while I’m bombarded with emails calling me an idiot for suggesting people reproduce these things.

12 responses to “We Can Build Them. We Have the Technology.”

  1. GP says:

    There are plenty of reasons this isn’t happening. It is more than just a lack of bodies available. What about engine, trans, suspension and brake components? Ever actually looked at how comprehensive the availability of aftermarket parts for a a “32 Ford is? To do the projects you are suggesting you would pretty much have to start out with a donor car as where with a ’32 Ford you cold almost build the entire thing from reproduction parts. I suggest that if you would like to see such a car built that you pony up the cash to have someone do it for you. I suspect that also plays a major role in the lack of such vehicles being built, a lack of customers demanding them…

  2. Harlo says:

    You’re right on the money with what you say about authenticity, GP. I was more thinking—just as a street rodder can drop a Hemi in their Ford chassis—a fabricator inspired by late-40’s barchettas can build their sports car around a 1.6liter Ford engine; or a GM ecotech; or a Fiat 4-cylinder. Heck, if you’re talking donor cars or reproduction parts, a Fiat 500 makes a wonderful source of appropriate-ish parts. But your point is well taken: The home-builder’s machines would likely be sports car inspired, not reproductions or re-creations.

  3. Tony Bittle says:

    As a H.A.M.B. member, I agree completely with your suggestions! I happen to be a lover of hotrods, and sportscars-and am currently considering what motor to transplant into my 1950 Jowett Jupiter. It’s all about imagination, playing with steel, and daring to be different. 🙂

  4. John says:

    I completely support this idea…was actually toying with the idea of a 750 Monza with Miata engine this week. I don’t see any reason the essence of a car can’t be re-created using modern drivetrains and newer technologies (like disc brakes). Start a club or Forum, I’m right there with you!

    btw….Chicane is a great pleasure for me every day, thanks for your efforts!

  5. Bart Brown says:

    ‘“tributes” or “replicas” or “re-creations” or whatever the nomme d’jour is for these things.’

    I think the Carroll Shelby term of choice is “continuation.”

  6. Bart Brown says:

    Oh yeah, and “The Chicane?” Best Vintage Motorsports site on the Web. I think “Sportscar Digest” is a very good site, but, compared to “The Chicane,” no contest.

  7. Bart Brown says:

    While I’m here, I’m working on a project that should make purists and hot-rodders alike gape, gasp, and guffaw: I have one of Bill Bonadio’s “Dio” splashes of the 1959-60 Bill AMes/Dewey BROhaugh AMBRO fiberglass bodies, originally intended for a Triumph TR-2/3 chassis or whatever it would fit on (the body will accomodate wheelbases from 88″ to 101″, thanks to the trim-able center body pieces), to race in SCCA “Modified” classes.

    I also have an abiding admiration for Jem Marsh and Frank Costin’s Marcos semi-monocoque plywood-chassis/bodies, especially the GT-1800, and I found, in Herb Adams’ excellent book on chassis design, a stressed skin “2 box + integrated monocoque side sills” design very much like that of the Marcos GT1800.

    My running gear donor is a ’64 MGB-GT that was rotted to within an inch of its like (so don’t fret, “rebuild it from Heritage panels even if all you have is part of the floor” enthusiasts — it didn’t have ANY part of the floor (did have some nice sellables, like the aluminum bonnet, working Smiths heater, several extra 60-spoke wire wheels, etc.), but for MY purposes, and at $250 for the whole MGB-GT w/complete drive train, INCLUDING the 50-mile tow to my garage, it seemed like the perfect basis, especially as the entire front suspension and steering rack are mounted to a bolt-on crossmember (which itself is mounted to the MG’s unit body). By using the front crossmember as a whole unit, all that’s necessary is to make sure the crossmember is mounted to maintain the correct kingpin inclination.

    Anyway, that’s my double-bastardized sweaty-fingered project of the decade. If anyone happens to know of a good website that might be able to help me with the dreary details of this project, please let me know (I’m thinking plywood boat and experimental aircraft builder’s forums), I’d be most grateful for any links. BTW, the origination of the Marcos plywood monocoque had a LOT to do with Frank Costin’s previous engineering work at DeHavilland, makers of the plywood monocoque DH.98 Mosquito “Wooden Wonder” — the near-“stealth” invisibility of the plywood Mosquito to “Freya” and various FuG German radars made it an excellent Pathfinder and Night Fighter. Wonder if it works against police radar?

    Anyway, I’m not building this to fool anyone, or to represent it as an actual original AMBRO (which has been tried, by the most unlikely person one could think of), it’s just going to be a driver. My plan to get it street licensed by the anal-retentively-regulatory CT DMV is to use the matching chassis and engine S/N plates, and call it an “MG Special,” like the Lester-MG. Will it work? At 63, will I live long enough to complete it? Who knows, but as my distant — VERY distant — relative Robert Browning said: “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

    Sorry for the long post. If anyone’s interested, I’ll be putting up pix of the project elements, design, and build on Photobucket or FlickR.

    Any suggestions — other than “get thee to a loony bin” or “go soak your head” gratefully accepted.


    Bart Brown

  8. Mike Jacobsen says:

    I’m in favor of all kinds of specials, be they re-creations or otherwise, as long as they cannot be passed off as original vintage cars. Alas, many have been, especially ones that contain one or two original components (there are many known cases of two cars each claiming to be the same original). But most of us can tell the difference between a real ’32 Ford hot rod (now rather rare) and one built of all newly manufactured parts, although the California DMV doesn’t seem to know the difference (thank God!). “Continuation” can only be used if it is done by the original manufacturer. “Replica” is also a term which has a strict definition by such as the Vintage Sports Car Club, and it must also be by the original outfit, as a Frazer-Nash Le Mans Replica. There are over 100 MG K3 “replicas” out there that are indistinguishable from the 33 originals unless one sees the serial numbers. Most are built on some period parts. Likewise Bugattis, of which the Bugatti Owners Club has built dozens using some original spare parts and new chassis, to which they give BOC numbers. One of these modern fakes just sold for $750,000. A famous California road racing special that was scrapped forty years ago was recreated in the ’90s using three original parts (not the chassis or engine) and advertised for sale as the original at an excessive price. I’ve often thought of hiring a helicopter and searching backyards in the San Fernando Valley for rotting historic cars–bet I’d find some good ones. MJ

  9. Jarek says:

    I is being done! Check out Seret Hot Rods in Vallejo Ca, hand hammered baby! http://seretcustoms.com/

  10. Dan Wilson says:

    Just saw your post and could not agree more. My “dream” car is the Maserati A6GCS Monofaro, but am building a ’50s MG Special, see in Project Journals on Britishv8.org

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