Project 33 - A new take on a classic car
2014 is the 50th anniversary for Performance Improvements. Everyone involved is really proud of reaching this milestone. In planning different ways to celebrate, someone suggested we reproduce the all-steel 1933 Ford Coupe that Bob McJannett built and drove in those early days.
The original ‘33 was built from a found 1933 body by Ken Stewart at Linken Manufacturing, with the help of Paul Dermo, Ron Dolson and Bob. The all-steel body even had some bullet holes to weld up, as it had been used for target practice! They planned to build a “Hot Rod” with all the traditional features of the era (60s).
The body was all steel, deeply channelled over the frame, and the top was chopped about 4”. Power was from a small-block Chevy engine with a B&M supercharger bolted to a GM Turbo 400 trans. Front suspension was traditional dropped axle cross spring, while Ken created his own coil over shock suspension in the rear. The dropped axle and rear coil over suspension made it best for cruise nights only. In its day, this yellow and flamed “Hot Rod” turned many heads, but the original frame, chassis and suspension designs are not capable of delivering sports car performance, handling, and ride quality.
Classic looks with modern performance
Times change, however, today's “Hot Rods” are far more sophisticated. Independent suspensions are the norm, along with disk brakes. Fuel injection has replaced carburetion. Handling and safety are as important as straight line performance. Obviously, build requirements have changed. With this in mind, we went out to see just what we could find to build. Months were spent researching starting from scratch, buying someone’s unfinished project or? Nothing really caught our eye, until we came across the Factory Five 33 Hot Rod.
Factory Five Racing has been building component car kits since 1995. They are best known for their MK4 Roadster (Cobra style) kits, that have won numerous drag races, autocross, SCCA and USRRC races, and car shows. In fact Ford thinks so highly of the Factory Five product that they have displayed them at major auto shows such as SEMA. A Factory Five car won the gruelling 1,500 mile Targa Newfoundland in 2006. These cars really work!
For years, Factory Five head honcho Dave Smith resisted building a “Hot Rod.” He felt that the ones he had seen did not offer the handling and performance he demanded from his vehicles. However, Jim Schenk his director of R&D had other ideas. He believed they could build a high performance daily driver “Hot Rod” that would meet Dave Smith’s demands.
The design goal of the car was pure vintage lines dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century with CAD/CAM technology and race car engineering. The ultra-rigid frame is made of mig-welded, high-strength carbon steel tubing and plate steel. This unique design delivers great torsional rigidity, increased cockpit space and numerous safety features. Work began and in 2008, they introduced the Factory Five 33 Hot Rod at the SEMA Show from then on the awards kept coming. After all our research the Factory Five car kept surfacing as the best way to build the tribute car we desired. Finally, one was ordered.
High School Hot Rod
Originally, our plan was to build the car in the showroom of our Superstore at 87 Advance Road. All of us would work on the build and all would participate in driving the car at the drags, lapping at local tracks, taking it to events etc. However, the pressures of running the business kept us from getting started. One day one of our customers, Art Hagner, Transportation Specialist at Judith Nyman Secondary School in Brampton said: “why don’t you give it to me, I’ll get the students in my class to work on it; it beats rebuilding lawnmowers etc”. What a great idea!
Judith Nyman Secondary School is a Peel District School Board technically based secondary school, located in Brampton, Ontario, providing its students with 4-year courses offering hands-on technical skills training in a wide variety of fields. Art Hagner transportation specialist at Judith Nyman encourages his students to excel by offering unique projects that will hold their interest. The 33 project will most certainly create enthusiasm. After discussions with the school, it was agreed that Art and his class would take on the project. In November, we moved our car to Art’s shop at Judith Nyman High School and work began. To see more photos go to our Tumblr page or visit Jim Madigan's website.
Judith Nyman Secondary School: Art Hagner, Transportation Specialist
Project 33 Build Crew: Lucas Futado, Tyler Gabidon, Connor Moore, Jaskarn Parmar, Nathan Benjamin, Blaine Mitchell, Avinash Samaroo
Project 33 Photographer: Jim Madigan
Madigan’s Vintage Tin is the result of Jim Madigan’s lifelong enthusiasm for specialty cars and racing. Jim will be chronicling our progress on the 33 in photos on both P.I.’s and his own web site. His website shows his wide variety of automotive interests, well worth a look.
SPONSORS - We'd like to thank the following companies for recognizing the benefits of working with students and supporting Project 33:
ARP, Auburn Gear, Design Engineering, Edelbrock, Holley, Moroso, MSD, Painless Performance, Quick Time, Russell, SSBC, Tuff Stuff, WASP Cam
Driving the Wheels off it
These Factory Five cars are built to drive and that is what we plan to do with it. This will be no trailer queen! Trips to the drag strip and autocross days are already anticipated. A return trip to the Texas Mile is also in the works. Who knows we may even take it ice racing - with a powder-coated frame and a fibreglass body, what have we got to lose!?