Sunday, February 14, 2021

1934 Ford Race Car restored and makes debut at World of Wheels

 Black 1934 Ford race car restored after rescue from woods is displayed at World of Wheels car show behind checkered flag that line the area around car.

Full circle. The 1934 Ford race car we hauled out of the woods is running! The J-2 made its debut in the World of Wheels car show in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend. After decades spent at the bottom of a "holler" deep in the Alabama woods, the race car was rescued and returned to the Massey family. Mike Massey, son of Sam Massey, one of the former drivers of the car back when it toured the dirt bullrings in the late 1940s and 1950s, spearheaded the efforts to restore it back to its racing roots condition. 

I got the unexpected news while walking through the woods. Ironic, since the voice on the other end of the line was calling about the 1934 Ford race car that the Junkyard Life crew hauled out of the woods in 2016. Mike Massey called to let me know that the old "J-2" family heirloom had been fully restored. 



Back in time
A quick look at the restored ’34 and you see a period correct race car from the 1950s with the flat head V8, black paint, and a few dings and imperfections.
  
  "We left a few dings in it because these cars weren't show cars back when they raced," Massey said.
  The car is lettered as it was when the Massey brothers raced it with the "Massey" name and "J-2" number. The body was heavily reworked due to decades of decay and racetrack abuse. The rear section including window was replaced with metal from a 1935 model.


The Massey family has been racing for many decades. They thought all the original race cars were gone. The rescued ’34 is a welcome sight in their shop.


Rear view of the 1934 Ford race car on jack stands in the Locust Fork, Alabama garage.
Massey & Sons Garage, Locust Fork, Alabama.


Whatever it takes
  The truth is that these auto racing pioneers raced whatever junk they could bolt or weld together. Spending as little money as possible in most cases. Some built race cars from wrecked daily drivers that were headed to the junkyard because they were cheap and plentiful. In the 1940s and 1950s, a few dollars could buy you a body and chassis from an "old" – at that time – 1930s-era vehicle.


Flathead engine
  The look would not be complete without a Ford Flathead V8. Massey did not disappoint. The engine is loud as it should be for a race car.

Engine shot of Ford Flathead V8 on the 1934 FOrd race car that was rescued from Alabama woods.
Ford Flathead V8 rumbles the floors in the 1934 Ford race car.


World keeps turning, keep driving
  The Massey family urged Mike to put the car in the World of Wheels show. Some may scoff, but I agree with their choice. I think there is no better time to share the car and this chapter of the story.
  A dream and a lot of work can 
take you anywhere you want to go. 

Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life 


1934 race car has a display that tells the story of its rescue at the World of Wheels car show in Birmingham, Alabanma.
A display shares story of the 1934 Ford's rescue at the World of Wheels car show in Birmingham, Alabama.



Modern rubber Hoosier racing tires are one of the obvious differences from the 1950s tires used on the ’34 in its racing days.
(Compare width to tires in photo below.)



Sam Massey stands next to the 1934 Ford race car in this yellowed vintage photo. He is wearing coverall with his foot on running board. His name is above door on roof.
Sam Massey stands next to the 1934 Ford race car in this vintage photo. His son, Mike, restored the rescued race car back to original 1950s condition.



The 1934 Ford race car sitting in dirt down in woods. Rusty, no wheels and left for dead for 40 plus years.
1934 Ford "AFTER" photo as it sits restored at the World of Wheels car show.




THE 1934 FORD RACE CAR
Did you miss part of the story?

THE RESCUE: 1934 Ford Race Car in Woods
The five year ordeal to secure permission and ownership

THE BUILD: 1934 Ford Race Car
A follow-up on the Massey family restoration



A dream can start in the woods with a shovel, a chainsaw and a tow rope.
Thanks for reading!



Know details about an old race car? Have a find of your own?  
Send us the word and we’re on the way!
  
Email Jody Potter at junkyardbull@gmail.com


Sunday, January 31, 2021

1972 AMC Javelin SST Alabama State Trooper

 

Look in the rearview mirror. We flashback a few years to take a look at Vince and Nancy Kolb's 1972 AMC Javelin SST Alabama State Trooper tribute car. I spotted the unmistakable blue and silver paint scheme associated with Alabama's highway patrol units at a local car show several years ago. The sparkling silver and blue Javelin was posted at the entrance to the show parking lot. Wary motorists passing on the main road slowed when they spotted the blue beacon atop the 1972 Javelin. Many were unsure of their speed or simply admiring a part of Alabama's highway patrol history as they passed the packed parking lot.


The Alabama State Trooper's office requested the large AMX rear spoiler on all Javelins because the highly visible space was needed for a large "STATE TROOPER" decal.


Big, bad, brute
Try to imagine pulling up behind a State Trooper Javelin in 1972. Unabashed style and intimidation. The giant rear spoiler emblazoned with STATE TROOPER shouts, "Back off!" "You don't want none of this!" A giant gumball light begging to be turned on. Waiting, ready for high speed pursuit. By no means do you want to pass any State Trooper on the highway for fear of getting pulled over for speeding. But a Javelin SST?

What would I do? In my youth-gone-wild days I might have tested this snarling beast. Now wiser, I know that a State Trooper in a Javelin is armed with an engine loaded for bear. Blasting the speedo needle deep into the triple digits to catch would-be highway racers was just another day in an Alabama State Trooper Javelin.


Alabama Javelin Highway Patrol History

In the early 1970s the state of Alabama, experiencing an economic crisis, found they could order budget-based patrol cars from AMC. The base model pony car Javelins equipped with 401 cubic-inch V8s were powerful enough to meet the Alabama Highway Patrols needs and cheap enough to keep the state happy. 


By the numbers
In 1971 the Alabama Department of Public Safety ordered 83 Javelins but only 71 were delivered before the 1971 model year ended. A total of 61 of the 71 were painted Quicksilver Metallic. The remaining 10 Javelins delivered on the initial purchase order were for the investigative unit and varied in color. 

That left 12 Javelins undelivered under the first purchase order. The everchanging marketing and production gurus at AMC decided to no longer offer a base Javelin on their 1972 models. The Javelin SST was AMC's plan to lure the upscale pony car market. The ADPS decided to stick with AMC and order more Javelin SSTs, which came with more options such as wood grain dash, rocker panel and fender trim (bright moldings), and SST emblems. ADPS ordered 62 1972 Javelin SSTs. The first order of 1972 models included the 12 remaining under the first order and AMC delivered those Javelin SSTs in the same Quicksilver paint color used on the 1971 models. When the state placed the second order, for 1972 Javelin SSTs, Quicksilver was no longer a paint option. Of the remaining 50 units ordered, 42 were painted Stardust Silver Metallic. The ADPS requested the hoods, decklids, and spoiler be painted Admiral Blue Metallic on the Stardust Silver Metallic Javelins. Eight Javelins were unmarked vehicles painted various colors. 


A 140 MPH speedo greets the driver of this 1972 AMC Javelin SST Alabama State Trooper car.


Details
All highway patrol Javelins were shifted by three-speed automatic transmissions. Borg-Warner had shifting duty in 1971. A Chrysler Torque-Command A727 was used for 1972.

A total of 133 were built for the state of Alabama. The Alabama Department of Public Safety kept the 1971 and 1972 State Trooper Javelins in service from 1971 until 1974. Very few remain road worthy. Even fewer are in show quality condition.

Update
Vince Kolb takes pride in the fact that his home state of Alabama was the first to utilize a pony car to track down speeders. He has since sold his two-tone 1972 Javelin SST State Trooper car but still drives his pristine 1972 Javelin State Trooper car in Quicksilver paint to shows around Alabama. A feature on that one-of-12 solid silver SSTs is upcoming. Stay tuned!


Final thought
I'm hoping more AMC Javelin State Trooper cars can be resurrected and find new highways to roam. Be warned, you may want to do a double take in your mirror if you find a AMC Javelin State Trooper sneak up behind you on the interstate. 

Jody Potter — Junkyard Life



 
When the State Trooper had to detain a suspect in a Javelin a backup unit was needed to transport them. On at least one occasion it was reported that a State Trooper placed their suspect in the AMC Javelin's trunk. 



The 401-V8 Javelin performed better than expected in high speed pursuit.



Alabama State Trooper decals are period correct on the 1972 Javelin SST.
Alabama State Trooper decals are period correct on the 1972 Javelin SST.



1972 Javelin SST sail panel emblem on State Trooper car.


Admiral Blue Metallic paint covers trunk, rear spoiler and hood of the 1972 Javelin SST. 

The Kolb's Alabama State Trooper Javelin info display draws crowds wherever they show their car.


All marked Alabama State Trooper Javelins had bright blue vinyl interiors.



SST trim provided bright trim over wheels and along rocker panels on 1972 Alabama State Trooper Javelins.





Know a junkyard that we need to visit?
Got an unusual car or truck story?
  
Send emails to Jody Potter at junkyardbull@gmail.com 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Cars in Yards: 1970 Chevrolet Nova

An Astro Blue 1970 Chevy Nova sits outside a body shop in Alabama.

Don't say it! Junkyard Life has found this… a 1970 Chevrolet Nova. There are so many things to mention about this car that was built for the common man. It came in so many forms, that most people could afford one. (Editor's note: Nobody said it was cheap. But...)


1970 Chevy "Nova" emblem with rust and blue paint around the chrome emblem.


Shakespeare asked, “What is in a name?”

The Chevrolet Nova has a cool name. Nova. Translated to mean “bursting star”, this car was contrived to compete with other makers that honed in on America’s obsession to go to the moon before other countries claimed that giant orb. So we had to pretend to get there first!


1970 Chevy Nova 307-V8 engine under hood photo show decades of dirt and neglect.
Somebody grab a can of orange spray paint.


Correction: It Does Go!

The common story that we here at Junkyard Life have been guilty of retelling is the great name fail tale. The story about how the translation of “Nova” in Spanish speaking countries meant “it doesn’t go” and how when the car arrived in the market with that moniker the buyers froze and refused to purchase. Why buy a car that tells you right up front that it doesn’t go? Going is really what we need it to do. Well, when researching our feature car - we now find out that story isn’t true. Puts a monkey wrench in my Fun Facts, doesn’t it?


All 1970 Chevy Nova's had the pillared post roof as shown.


This Nova is pretty honest about what it is. It has two (possibly three) options that jump quickly into view. Can you spot them? See Fun Facts.


The backseat is loose and sits in the front seat of the 1970 Nova.


Options on the cheap Chevy

This Nova was adorned in GM paint code 25 known as Astro Blue in 1970. See that space theme we mentioned? It also had the standard bench seat, RPO Code 731 for you numbers guys, covered in black vinyl. What you see, is what you get. Before we get you too excited about the tough guy persona of the rugged “post sedan”, hold your bursting stars. We learned that this ONLY came in pillared sedan form. Which is fine by us. We at Junkyard Life adore post sedans. The structural sound "post" body style is preferred by racers in all classes. However, not much racing was done with this 307 cubic inch example. If there was, he probably didn’t win a lot. That small block power plant was made to do what it did… last a long time and not use too much fuel.    


A 307-V8 emblem, shown on fender of 1970 Nova, was shunned by hot rodders who laughed at the underpowered engines.
In the 1980s a 307 emblem meant that you were driving grandma's car.



Air conditioner slider controls on dash of 1970 Chevy Nova.
Granny was on a budget but packed her car with amenities like A/C.



Straight on shot under hood looking at dingy, brown 307-V8 of the 1970 Nova.
The 307-V8 was still relatively new to the car buying world, having only been in the mainstream since 1969.



1970 Chevy Novas still had the clean, tucked-in bumpers. By 1973 the bumpers protruded away from the body to pass crash test standards.




Trim tag, a metal plate under the hood of the 1970 Nova, has details on the 1970 Chevy Nova.
Trim tag has details on the 1970 Chevy Nova.


Complete set of 14-inch hub caps found inside Chevy Nova.
Complete set of original 14-inch hub caps found inside Chevy Nova.


Don't let the wheels fool you

The only exception to my previous “What you see is what you get” is the Chevrolet Rally wheels. Although an option for the Nova in 1970, this example came with 14-inch wheels with a “Chevrolet Motor Division” hubcap outlined in the center. Very tasteful and economical. I may not have known that detail up front, but the owner told me he has the entire set of hubcaps. I also found them in the car under the removed back seat. Sadly, no build sheet was present.


(Editor’s Note: We have suggested therapy to Junkyard Life staff member Ron Kidd. He really likes hubcaps to an unhealthy degree)  



What would I do?

If this bursting star was in the Junkyard Life shop, my vote would be to yank the 307, add a fat rat motor, but keep the 307 emblems and the hubcaps. (Editor’s Note: See?) This is the perfect chassis for an incognito money taker. Unfortunately, it isn’t ours but an interesting car nonetheless.

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life



Junkyard Life’s Nova Fun Facts:

  • The Chevy II was introduced in 1962 to compete for the Ford Falcon buyers. Chevrolet was somewhat late to the game.
  • The feature car is a 1970 model. The third generation for the Chevrolet Nova began in 1968.
  • 1968 was the last year to have both “Chevy II” and “Nova” emblems. It was only known as “Nova” after 1969.
  • The Nova was only built in two places: Norwood, Ohio and Willow Run, Michigan. The feature car was born in Willow Run. Yes, we love cowl tags at Junkyard Life.
  • 1968 was a great seller for the Chevrolet Nova despite several options no longer available. Hello 1968 post sedans. Goodbye last year’s station wagon, hard top, and convertible. A bold move in the market indeed. 
  • Chevrolet was late to the game AGAIN in 1967 with the introduction of the Camaro to attempt to regain sales stolen by the Ford Mustang since 1964. What does this have to do with the Nova? Rumor was that half way through the model year Chevrolet conveniently cut the high horse 327 from the Nova menu to boost sales of the new Camaro. Sneaky marketing!
  • The top of the food chain power wise in 1970 Nova was the 375HP 396-V8 (which was actually 402 cubic inches).
  • Hotly debated for years is the civil war between the hot new 350 LT1 borrowed from the Corvette and Camaro Z28 verses the 396 big block. Which was faster when installed in the 1970 Nova? Ginger or Mary Ann? Both hot.

(Editor’s Note: I don’t think “Gilligan’s Island” has ever been used for a Chevy II engine debate. We no longer allow Ron to write with the TV on here at the office.)

  • The Chevy II was designed to be very economical. It was offered with a 4 cylinder engine for several years.
  • The options we mentioned on the feature car we spotted were:
    • The 307 V8 was an engine upgrade (three actually)
    • The air condition was not standard, hence…an option.
    • (Possibly) the side body molding may not have been standard. 
    • The AM radio was one step above… no radio.
    • The automatic transmission was relatively a sure bet to be there, but don’t count it for free… there was a manual three-speed tranny that could cost less.


Know a junkyard that we need to visit? Got a car story?  
Send emails to Jody Potter at junkyardbull@gmail.com or Ron Kidd at Kidd403@bellsouth.net.