IF YOU BUILD IT

WHETHER DEBUTING A NEW RIDE, ADMIRING EVERYONE ELSE’S OR GETTING AMONGST IT IN THE DIRT DRAGS, CHOPPED 2015 WAS A MUST FOR ANYONE INTO TRAD-STYLE RODS AND CUSTOMS

STORY SIMON TELFORD PHOTOS CHRIS THOROGOOD

SINCE 2008, Chopped Rod & Custom of traditional-style rods, customs and bikes. in 2010 and has grown like crazy ever since. a product of its environment. Historically, rodding in Australia, with Ryan and Kyle’s scale 10,000 this country, the show in the tiny Victorian goldfields town of Newstead has been promoting chilled-out automotive good times, based around a love The show adopted its now-signature dirt drags The brainchild of brothers Ryan and Kyle Ford and their mate Paul Williams, Chopped is very much a proroduct of its environment. Historically, the Castlemaine area was one of the early centres of hot rododding in Australia, with Ryan and Kyle’s dad one of the key early adopters. But perhaps even more importantly, the fact that the guys have a strong network of family and friends around them has allowed them to turn a casual weekend show at a footy ground into a full-scale festival, attracting 10 000 year10,000 punters this year.

A couple of things made Chopped instantly different from any other car show in country, the first being the insistence that the event is for traditionally styled racecars and pre-1963 a show for a single make – Mustangs, Goggomobils, whatever – is easy to grasp, based around a particular a hard one to get your head anywhere in the instead a broader musical palette, based hot rods, 196963 customs. The idea of running a show for a single make – Mustangs, Holdens, Goggomobibilsls, whwhatatevever – is easy to grasp, but the concept of a show bab sed arouo nd a particular style of car can be a hard one to geget your head around. In essence, the boys wanted to create a fantasy world for a weekend, where billet wheels, EFI and all things high-tech were never invented and where the styling touchpoints for rods, customs and bikes never developed further than the late 1960s.

In practice this can be a tricky rule to enforce, but even so, you won’t find a bigger gathering of such cars country.

The other big difference from most rod-based shows is that Chopped is as much a music festival as it is a car show. But of the rockabilly or rock ’n’ roll that you often hear at other events, offers a broader musical palette, based Chopped o p around a punk attitude, if not always a punk sound – this year’s headliner, CW Stoneking, being the perfect case in point.

CHOPPED FULL-SCALE ATTRACTING 10,000 PUNTERS CHOCHOPPED FESTIVAL PPED HAS GROWN INTO A FULL S PP PUNTERSATTRACTING 10 000

FOUR-BANGERS O U R-B ANG E R S FO

1) This four banger-powered ’30 tudor is owned by Christian Eckert of South Oz. Christian bought the car from the US, converted it to right-hand drive and removed as many unnecessary parts as possible! The ’banger runs a Brumfield head, twin 97 carbs on a Thomas inlet and a 50s Mallory dizzy. Running through a Mitchell three-speed all-synchro ’box and with a ’49-’51 Ford electric overdrive out back, Christian reports that he can overtake at 110km/h comfortably, with the ’banger turning over at 2500rpm 2) Joel Bliss’s little ’28 roadster hooked up better than some of the V8s on the dirt, and even had a few wins on the short track. He had to rescue a water pump pulley from a rusted Model A sitting in a mate’s garden in Glenrowan to keep on the road home to Canberra. The driveline is all original and the body is a mash-up, with a fabbed cowl top, a ’28 Dodge tourer tub and an oversized ’23 turtle deck 3) Joel’s mate Ed Radclyffe drove his ’banger-powered roadster pick-up from Canberra and back. “We had a few dramas with the tune, but we fitted some smaller jets and it started to run okay,” Ed said. “It was rolling repairs the whole way, but a good trip back on the roads less travelled”

5 KUSTOMS MSM STO M SKUS

4) A particular treat for me was taking a ride in Dynamite Bettie. Originally put together by former SM art dude Povi Pullinen for Chopped 2014, it was sold to Andrew ‘Grot’ Wallis when Povi made the big move to the US. Grot has fitted a hopped-up four-banger and got it running sweetly. Congrats mate! 5) It is always a treat to see Curtis Grima’s ’55 Pontiac Star Chief. Paint is House of Kolor Cinnamon Pearl 6) Bayden Roberts gave his ’57 Chev wagon a tasty taildragger makeover in the six weeks leading up to Chopped, with spats, wide-whites, Fiesta caps and Craig Issell pinstripes. The driveline is a simple 350/350 deal, with a disc-brake front end 7) A couple of panel-painted beauties: Sean Fitzsimmons’s ’60 T-bird and Ryan Ford’s ’63 Galaxie 8) Our good buddy Trev Durston and his mild custom ’62 Thunderbird, Starbird.

Trev sold the T-bird shortly after Chopped to fund other ventures 9) EH utes popped out of the factory with EJ rear ends, but this one has been built the way they should have been done, using EH wagon rear quarters!


HOT RODS H OT R D S O

11 10) The Stars & Stripes roadster is a rolling piece of hot rod history, owned, raced and cared for by Smoking Joe Formosa 11) Kyle de Kuijer is another Eldorado with a delicious roadster. His ’30 model sits on the car’s original frame, stepped four inches in the rear. It is powered by a ’38 flathead V8 and a ’39 gearbox, with a natty set of Thickstun head covers. All built at home on a budget 12) Adelaide’s Ashley Cave went for an East Coast style with his ’28, with a fullsize windscreen, nerf bars on the back and carefully thought-out fenders. The car is dubbed ‘Sputnik’ and features signwriting by Raymond P Moondog and pinstriping by Sam Harrison 13) Des Russell’s channelled ’29 roadster is going to be a beauty. It is a ways from finished, but the Eldorados member thrashed hard to get it up and running for Chopped. Ample power is provided by a gnarly 324 Oldsmobile engine, with a staggered intake and four Stromberg 97s and a set of cool show pipes fabricated by Des 14) Yet another Eldorado with a bitching roadster in the build is Ben Mulholland.

Based around a Brookville body and an original ’32 frame, it is running an early Oldsmobile V8, T5 gearbox and a quickchange rear 15) Tracy and Michael Ahrens’s ’27 roadster is a thing of beauty, like a Keith Weesner painting brought to life 16) We didn’t catch up with the owner of this neat little Model A roadster, but we did leave some drool on it! 17) Ryan Ford’s ’32 roadster has been running for a while now, but we dug the new lakes-style tonneau cover

18) Dave Andresen’s Hi Jinx is 631/2 unspeakably cool, running a 428ci FE big-block, topped by an M/T Power Ram intake and backed by a four-speed Top Loader ’box. Even so, Dave has a revamp planned that is going to blow minds 19) Our number one heroes of the weekend were Gav Edmonds and Natalie Khoury, who drove their blown Hemi-powered ’58 Ford Mainline across from Adelaide and then raced the pants off it. Dubbed Krankenstein, the beam front axle went in especially for Chopped, but the car has been built since 2012, when the pair used it for a caravan tour around Victoria and Tasmania 20) The beast is powered by a 354ci Hemi with a blower and single four-barrel carb, backed by a Turbo 400 trans, with a neat Lightning Bolt-style shifter from www.kilduffmachine.com 21) Gasser godfather Damien Kemp debuted his super-cool ’1 /Mercury Marauder fastback at Chopped. It is a rare bird, powered by a 406 FE motor and decked out in period-correct race warpaint

COMPETITION ETITI ON E COMPE

got his ’32 Ford five-window drag coupe dummied up in time for the event. Upsetting restorers and street rodders by cutting up a realsteel body, Ryan has got the coupe sitting just right, with a blown Hemi, massive engine set-back and a host of cool vintage speed parts 23) We dug Peter MacGregor’s Mark III Zephyr speedway car. It is powered by a 156ci six, with Sonic extractors, a cam and some head work. Dragged out of a paddock and bought for a carton of beer, the Zephyr is thought to have been a Ford Australia test vehicle that competed in an Armstrong 500 race at Phillip Island and was later converted to speedway duty by a Ford mechanic 24) Scott Pigdon’s Aussie Viking ’66 Volvo 122 runs a Holden six powerplant, with a Volvo TD05 turbo and blow-through carb induction 25) Al Fountain never does things by halves. His Black Death Bourbon Model A roadster is powered by a 493ci Chrysler big-block and topped by the injection system from his monster bellytank 22) Chopped co-owner Ryan Ford

The initial – and ongoing – reaction to Chopped’s traditional styling rules was huge amongst fans aficionados. It filled a gaping void in the car scene and has seen a hard core of dedicated fans driving flathead-powered rods across the country to be there ever since. In fact, this year saw a handful of hardy four-banger fans chugging in from interstate for the show. To those noble souls, we doff our caps.

If you want to attend Chopped, but don’t have a traditional-style car or have one that is outside the age range, that isn’t a problem – you can bring any car you like into the campground for the weekend, you just won’t be able to access the track or show ’n’ shine area, which are the centrepieces of the event.

In previous years, the show featured a circle track and a long, two-lane dragstrip, but a number of scary crashes in recent years have seen the boys ditch the speedway and shorten the dragstrip dramatically.

This was disappointing for some, but with the likes of Steve Costa’s Blaster gasser tearing up the Chopped’s driving scary track, reducing the terminal speeds probably isn’t a bad idea. Not that many of the competitors are in any danger of overpowering the track, but for drivers of flatheads, four-bangers, sideplate sixes and other venerable contraptions, Chopped offers a rare place to race one’s peers on a (mostly) level playing field.

The car show is the place to debut your recently finished or even not-quite-completed project, with Ryan, Kyle and Paul’s Eldorado clubmates excelling themselves with a fine display of trad-style hot rods.

Des Russell’s channelled roadster was one our favourites, with a nasty Olds V8, cool Des-made zoomies, firewall-mounted gauges and some tuckand- roll trim.

The Eldorados have a small group of soulmates from Adelaide who have been supporters of Chopped since the first event, including Ashley Cave. Ash arrived at the first Chopped with a justfinished late 40s-style Model A roadster. This was his ‘learner’ car, and since then he converted his probably isn’t Not that many of the competitors are of overpowering the track, of our his

THIS YEAR SAW A HANDFUL OF HARDY FOUR-BANGER FANS BANGERHARDY FOUR BA FROM INTERSTATE CHUGGING IN FRO

spinner to a two-door, finished his brother’s Model channelled East Coast-style A roadster for this what of experience and a keen appreciation for a Chopped is a fully stocked A tub and somehow found time to smash out a year’s event. It is a super-fun car and shows can be done on a budget, with plenty of hard work, a bit of experience and a keen appreciation for a specific period look.

Of course, there are plenty of fun things to do at Choppppeded besides admiring cool craftsmanship.

There isis a fully stocked tiki bar, a bunch of killer bands, great tucker and the best people-watching you’ll find this side of Times Square.

The best place to indulge in the latter is on the back of Wolfman’s flatbed Bedford. Wolfman is a member of the legendary Feral Sports Car Club and has driven all manner of ancient contraptions what million kilometres of forgotten backroads. This makes him the perfect man for the job of transporting various insane acts around up with happy punters. I hopped on for my first-ever ride and was pleasantly surprised to receive a complimentary cup of delightful home brew from one very generous punter and some ice-cold watermelon from another.

Rocking out in the sun on the back of Wolfman’s truck, meeting some cool fellow travellers and being treated to the sensory overload of the coolest cars bikes this little black duck.

If you’d like to get in on the action, check out chopped.com.au and leave the first weekend in s through several million kilometres of forgotten makekes hihim ththe pep rfect mam n for various insas nen one-manband the event, loaded up wiw th happy fellow and bibikes all at once was pretty close to bliss for October free.

BEING TREATED ALL AT ONCE WAS CLOSE TO BLISS TO THE COOLEST CARS AND BIKES

26) Peter Birthistle manhandling an SM scribbler Carly Dale and hubby eight-valve Indian donk, which he then slipped into his sidecar, along with his very patient missus 27) Shane drove Carly’s ’34 coupe over from Adelaide 28) Metal magicians Aaron Bray and Leon Davies treated Ryan Ford’s El Camino to a haircut during the event 29) Von Hoff at work striping Chris Thorogood’s ’59 Chev Brookwood 30) It was super-exciting to see the Jim Vincent ’26 Willys bucket at Chopped.

The car was built in the early 70s and featured a 292 Y-block, four-speed, C&D mags, Bob Grimshaw trim and a typically wild Rick Pacey paint job.

The bucket has copped quite a few changes over the past 40-odd years, but it was great to see that it has survived to race again! 31) Sean Basford from Adelaide brought over his 1954 Willys Aero Deluxe. The car is one of a handful imported into Australia for sale in right-hand-drive form