I was still unsure of what I was going to do about building myself a little Hot Rod, but the search was well and truly on for a kit car to donate it's chassis. Another thing that I was quite concerned about was, how badly will it drive. With M.R's. Model 'A' nestled in his garage, and getting worked on in every spare moment that M.R. had, M.C. was itching to get his hands on his '33. Another trip to Bournemouth for just M.C. and myself this time to see how the progress on his '33 was coming along. M.C. wasn't impressed, it was still unstarted. With just three or four weeks until he was thinking he was going to be taking delivery of it, the panels hadn't even been made, M.C. had a proper whinge about it, but didn't give G.J. any demands on how soon he wanted to take delivery of his Hot Rod. It has to be said, that G.J. pretty much had the gift of the gab, and talked M.C. into waiting a little longer without any trouble at all. As we left, M.C. although being talked into waiting even longer, was in a proper huff, and started to walk towards his car. Before we could get there G.J. said to me, "Are you ready to order yet?" I laughed and said no, but it looks like I've got plenty of time. By this point M.C. was in his car with the engine running. G.J. said to me, "Can you come back alone on Wednesday?" I said, what for? Are you planning on taking me out for a date? G.J. said, "Maybe, or maybe something better!" I said that I would come back, but he was gonna need to go slow, as I'd never dated a man before! A voice called out from the back of the workshop, "And you still won't be able to say you have after your date!" We all chuckled, and G.J. said, "Don't worry about him, he gets fired today!" I laughed and headed off to M.C's. car! G.J. called out to me, "Bring money!" He said. I replied that it's a pretty rubbish date if I'm having to pay! I got into M.C. car and headed off for the forty odd mile drive home which was understandably filled with moaning about his car not being ready on time!
Wednesday rolled around, and once again I was stood in G.J's. workshop. We chatted for a bit, and he asked me if I was any closer to making a decision. I said that I was, but seeing as M.C's. body was taking so long, it's kinda put me off a little bit. So then G.J. asked me how important was it that my '32 was a coupé, and would a roadster be any good? I said that I had seen a roadster in the last couple of weeks, and I wouldn't rule one out if the price was right. G.J. said how does free sound? I said that it did sound like the right price, but how long would I have to actually wait for it? And not, how long will he tell me I'll have to wait, but how long will I actually wait? He said, "I can get it for you this afternoon!" I could see that this was going to cheer M.C. right up, but I said, ok, whats the catch? A free '32 Roadster body, and I'll get it today? Doesn't sound right, especially when M.C. ordered his weeks ago and you still haven't started it. G.J. said "We have started it, look, we've cleared a space where it will go! Anyway, the catch is that the '32 Roadster is broken, the back broke off it getting it out of the workshop. it could be repaired, but it would be cheaper to just make another one. If you want it, you'll have to go down the roadster pick up route really, unless you fancied trying to make a boat tail!" I said, OK, I'm in. But at some point I would quite like to drive one, just to see what it's like to drive? Can I have a go with the yellow one? I asked. G.J. told me that I couldn't as he's sold it! Then came that same voice that I'd heard the previous Saturday, it said "You can have a go with mine if you like!" I said that I'd like that very much, I walked towards him, and asked when would it be possible? He said, "Now if you like." I did like, and he, who from here on in will be referred to as P.C. handed me the keys, and showed me to his Hot Rod. He told me that it was only a 1.6 litre Pinto engine, but as it's light, it's quite good. He also told me that it wasn't really finished, and to take my time. I got in, it was quite sparse, in fact there wasn't even a transmission tunnel! I didn't really know what to expect, I put the key in the ignition, and turned it. It started right up, I was off!
I decided that it wouldn't be a bad idea to take my camera(s) with me as, how often do you get the chance to drive someones Hot Rod? I headed out, I had no idea where I was going as I wasn't from around Bournemouth, so I figured that I'd just drive about. P.C. was right about the 1.6 litre engine being quite good, with the car being so light it just flew along the road. For me it felt strange to be in something so low, with such a short windscreen, so loud, and so crude. I realise that it was unfinished, but I guess I was expecting more refinement or something. I'd only ever driven normal production cars and I didn't really know what to expect, but it was like nothing I had ever driven before, in short, it was EPIC!
It was about that time that I became aware of a quiet ching-ching-ching sound coming from my left. I looked down, the oversized zipper pull on my bomber jacket was rubbing against the rotating propshaft, and as it did, it chinged on the U.J.! I thought I'd better zip my jacket up quick before I'm not wearing it anymore! Besides which, with no transmission tunnel in place it was quite drafty in the cockpit!
I figured that as I had this opportunity to drive this little Hot Rod, I'd take some snaps. As I did so I suddenly found myself thinking that I was actually familiar with this little thing, and I had even looked at it not once...
But actually twice before at the very least...
I remember thinking that not only that, but I'd actually had a lengthy chat with P.C. at a car show about his Hot Rod, and now, here I was actually driving it! Unfinished or not, the more I looked at it, the more I liked it, and the more I drove it, the more I liked the idea of having one for myself. I even toyed with the idea of asking P.C. if it was up for grabs. But I decided against buying one that was ready built as I was coming around more and more to the idea of building one in my own garage... (Which I needed to rent if I was going to build my own Hot Rod!) Driving around I felt like John Milner from American Graffiti or something. I'd burned up a whole roll of colour transparency film in my Lubitel 166u medium format camera, but I was far from done. I needed to find a suitable location, and load up with a roll of black and white film.
Driving a car that looks for all the world like it's come from out of the late 1930's, and photographing it with a camera which is based on the early 1930s Voigtländer Brillant camera designs I was soon deluding myself into thinking that actually, I had stepped back in time. I started to look for locations that wouldn't give it's date away, therefore no multi-colour graffiti on the wall behind it, and definitely no modern traffic. Not knowing my way around I was pretty much out of luck, but did manage to find this Nissen hut, and thought that it would probably do!
Pretty soon I had used a whole roll of film, and all too quickly I thought that it was about time take P.C. his Hot Rod back, I was fairly sure he was going to want to go home at some point. I thought that if G.J. had lent me his yellow one I may have made my mind up sooner. But now, driving this one, as unfinished as it was there was a sort of romance about the whole thing. I could actually imagine myself as a fella in early fifties America driving around the streets cruising in my Hot Rod. I'd read the books, the magazines, watched the videos, seen the films, and now, driving this, I was to an extent living it. If I had got a chance to drive P.C's. Hot Rod sooner, I think it would've definitely made my mind up sooner. What with driving this, and the offer of a free, but damaged body on the table, I was in, I had to be! I went back, gave P.C. his keys back reluctantly, and said to G.J. that I'd take him up on the offer of the body. I gave him a small deposit so he wouldn't offer the body to anyone else, and told him I would be back as soon as I had worked out what I was going to do next, G.J. told me not to wait too long, and I said I would be back within a fortnight! Either with an idea, or money for them to start work building my '32 Roadster pick up. In the meantime I asked them to cut the back off the damaged Roadster body, so that at least they could stand it in the corner where it would take up less room! I said my goodbyes, and headed off home, eager to share the news with my friends that I was going to build one too, and I even had a body! Now I just needed to find a chassis, but how hard can that be?