Steve Scott’s Radical Hot Rod Creation
“How It All Began”
Everything on this page is copyrighted by me, Steve Scott, 2012 -
On about March 15, 1960, when I was 17, a classmate in our advanced physics class
drew a cartoon of a wild, tipped over Model T hot rod. When he showed it to a few
of us, one of the guys said something like, "Wow! What a wild hot rod! It's too bad
you can't build something like that." I then said something like, "If you can think
of something, you can create it." As I was saying that, I knew that I HAD to build
something like it to prove my point! After all… it was an advanced physics class!
I went directly home after school with my vision of the hot rod that the cartoon had
inspired me to visualize, and started measuring and drawing it to scale on the wall
of our small, narrow, detached garage, trying to figure out what it would take to
actually build something like it.
I didn't try to make it exactly like the cartoon because some things were just too cartoonish, but the inspiration was there, and I visualized what it should look like right then. My mom kept coming out and telling me how late it was getting. She gave up at about Midnight.
At about 4 or 5 a.m., I KNEW that I could build it! I was so excited... and also so scared at the same time... because I knew that I would have to invent and create things to make it work! Even so, I was determined... no... I felt “destined” to build my vision!
MUCH MORE went into the design of “The Uncertain-
I REALLY didn't like bulky steering boxes and thick steering columns... even chromed and shiny... they still looked “wrong” to me. Even if it was chromed, I didn't want a long, thick steering shaft going from the dash to a big ugly steering gear box in front and obscure some of the left side of the engine! I was going to have to make, or even invent something simple and clean to do the job.
Being a true hot rodder in The San Fernando Valley in those days, I was no stranger to all the many "junk yards" stacked high with carcases of every imaginable make and year of car. It took me a while... and many, many hours... looking in and under every type of car in the junk yards... until one day when I discovered rack and pinion steering! I hadn’t been looking at foreign cars at all, because of course... in those days... hot rods were mostly Fords. I was very excited when I saw my first rack and pinion steering mechanism! They were so simple and straight forward, and I knew that when I found the right one, that I could modify it to do just what I needed. The day that I found the right solution, I couldn’t stop grinning. Even so, it was just a start. I still needed to modify it by cutting off one end and capping it so that only one side would go forward to the left front wheel.
I knew that I wanted to have a “nailhead” Buick engine so that it would be distinctive, and wouldn’t be big and bulky and overpower the design of the body. T he motor came from a low mileage Buick... a '55... I think. For many design reasons I absolutely wanted the engine to be as level to the ground as possible, so that meant finding a transmission and rear end that had their drive at the bottom, instead of the middle or top. The perfect solution for the transmission was a “stick Hydro”... an excellent solution because it would also eliminate the need for a clutch pedal and linking parts! A friend built "stick" Hydros. He recommended using a Pontiac Hydramatic. He went through it for me when it was time to get it actually running.
It was a “no brainer” for me for what to use for the rear end. A magnesium Halibrand Quick Change had the drive coming in at the bottom, allowing me the lowest possible drive line. All I needed to do was to earn a lot of money to buy one! :)
I used the widest Ford axle housings and axles that I could find. I thought about disc brakes, but I didn’t like how they looked. To me, the best look to compliment the simplicity of everything else was Buick finned aluminum brake drums... something readily available at the local junk yards.
I was almost ready to begin sizing and constructing the body. The only main elements left were wheels and a cowl from a Model T. Finding a cowl by itself, and being able to afford magnesium wheels and the tires that I wanted to use meant working hard to earn the money to buy them! I could... and did... mock up everything else.
To be continued...