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1964 Austin Minivan Rod - Dec 24, 2005

My son Phil found the 1964 Austin minivan for sale on the Internet and was high bidder before I even knew about it. He arranged to have it imported from Wales. After about 6 months of confusion and delays it finally arrived (see pic trailer.greg). During that time, we played out possible alternatives, from pure restoration (phil’s preferred alternative) to radical custom (mine) and decided on the “rod” option with moderate body mods. With so many high profile builders out there it is really hard to come up with something different on a reasonable budget. It also had to be comfortable with heat and A/C (previous rods had no heat).

Renegade Hybrids, Las Vegas, provided the engine mounting and adaptor plates which allowed all the stuff on the front of the motor (small block Chevy, bored and stroked to 427 hp) to be moved off to the side and the Porsche 5 speed transaxle to be shifted from the side - both modifications necessary to fit the drive train between the 80 inch wheelbase and allow enough room to drive comfortably. Studley Fabrications, Hopedale, MA, built the structural members and roll cage.

Front end upgraded Mini with 8.4” Metro 4-piston calipers. Rear suspension competition Fiero with upgrade kit to remove bump steer by Held Motorsports, Grand Rapids.Line lock and proportioning valve complete the braking system.

Body modifications are all hand made in sheet metal by East Coast Custom Cars, Church Point, Nova Scotia Canada, including:
front bumper moved back to the body and welded, front ground effects constructed, including air dam under the bumper to increase air flow to radiator and A/C condenser.
Headlights and parking lights replaced with halogen tri-stars with blue dots (Hagan Street Rod Necessities) and LED parking lights, all frenched.
All body lap seams cut, butt welded, and smoothed.
Windshield wiper and washer holes filled and smoothed. One wiper port created above windshield on driver’s side.
Hood corners rounded and hood hinged from the front with power opener fitted.
Aluminum fuel cell designed to hold 10 gallons and direct air from 2 cooling fans to each wheel well (opened and screened for efficient cooling).
Firewall modified on passenger side to fit Vintage Air heater/air conditioning unit.
Firewall behind seats designed with lower half removable to access front of motor.
Extraneous holes in fire wall filled and smoothed.
Wheel arches constructed to fit 13x5 MiniLites (front) and 15x7 MiniLites (back with Street legal slicks). Rocker panels constructed to connect wheel arches and allow for easy entry (small at the entry point).
Original sliding windows replaced with power windows (Electric Lite) and doors rehinged to suicide with remote power openers (Rocky Hinge).
Front of the window area filled to accommodate power door opener and LED rear view mirrors serving as directional indicators.
Air intake cut into side panel to cool engine bay and brakes.
Roof gutter removed except over front doors.
Rear pan rolled and screen areas created to hide suspension and bottom of transaxle, and allow air flow out of engine compartment. Center screen removable to allow wheelie bars to be fitted when drag racing.
Rear doors reworked, including hidden hinges, power-operated with gas shocks to push the doors open and remain open, tops modified to accept full glass (95% tinted to drive the curious crazy) to modernize to look.
Custom LED tail and brake lights, and third brake light frenched.
Paint is DuPont Hot Hues, 3 stage pearl metallic, including racing stripe with ghost flames.
The first shot is the van on my trailer as it arrived from Wales.
The second as after the steel work at Studley Fabrications
The third is just after body & paint work at East Coast Custom Cars.
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