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Yesteryear racers



with Greg Stokes


As life becomes more costly and complicated, we are always looking for simpler and more carefree times. Whether it’s an escape to the beach or taking on a new hobby or somehow reliving the past - we all seek more simplified times. Car guys are no exception and the two cars you see here are perfect examples of that. The automobile has a rich history of evolution and particular motorsport is even more glorified. The two cars shown here hark back to simpler times and each car gives their owners a real sense of time travelling when they get behind the wheel. These photos are the first time these two cars have been together in each other’s company and while both cars are so different, the similarities are so close. We show them here in a bid to inspire the reader to ponder their own automotive interests and also the nod to simpler times.

Bob Neville's Lucky 17 speedster started as a 1928 Ford Model A in Michigan, USA many years ago and was built to relive the board track racing era of the 20's and 30's. While it is very much about man and machine it is also a study in the art form of styling, proportions and design balance. Its Model A chassis features an extended wheelbase, and it features a custom one-off boat tail style body for two person seating. The engine is a highly modified 1932 Ford "B four cylinder engine and its modern upgrade is the addition of a 5-speed gearbox. Bob found the car in the UK and had it shipped home to New Zealand and in recent years GMS Hot Rods have redone the suspension, the mechanicals and custom built a Model A theme Auburn style dashboard. During this time Bob has driven it all over the place attending anything from Nostalgia Drags to Art Deco and the Leadfoot Festival.

During the time Bob's car has been worked on at GMS Hot Rods, the gorgeous black speedster inspired yours truly at GMS to build a more simplified Model A powered car. It was in the late nineties when this writer had his first Model A powered car, and I was keen to do something else. I had contemplated a similar speedster to Bob's but using a mixture of Model T and Model A Ford parts. I had always wanted to build a 30's era Model T roadster hot rod too! When the opportunity popped up for a genuine Henry Ford steel Model T Ford roadster, that dictated which way the build would go. The little T roadster would ultimately be built to emulate something that would race on the El Mirage dry lakes of Southern California in the thirties. The greatest and most important aspect to both of these cars is the word FUN. These cars are built totally for fun and that's what the owners of these two cars do is just that. The T roadster was pieced together during the many Auckland covid lockdowns. From there it was a 10 day thrash to get it running for the Jalopy Dust Up dirt track racing at Waihi. What has followed then is attending many events from the Gasser Wars Drags to the Hot Rod Blowout Show to the Kumeu Classic Car & Hot Rod Festival. It is 100 years old and a real trip back in time to drive with its hopped-up Model A engine with dual Stromberg carbs and electronic ignition. As for Bob and his wife Julie they go to a bit more effort with a wardrobe full of vintage attire to wear with the car to suit any occasion.

More viewing on these cars can be enjoyed at Hot Rod Revue: Lucky 17: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckN9WTnL8HA Model T roadster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ogp0RcZRb_Q


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