Hot Rod: Spud's Race Inspired 1934 Ford Roadster
Words & Photography Luke Ray.
After his bare-metal pick-up had been through all the shows, meets and magazines, Nick ‘Spud’ Crocitti set out on his next project. The goal was to build an early ‘50s style jalopy salt racer, inspired by numerous iconic images of US and Australian hot rods carving up the salt at their respective Bonneville and Lake Gairdner locations.
Not even looking around too hard, Spud was handed a ‘36 Ford chassis by a local scrap metal merchant. It wasn’t in great shape, and it was destined for the crusher before being offered a lifeline in the hands of Spud. The metal merchant had picked it up from a farmer some time ago. The farmer told him that it was originally from an Aussie speedway car that was doing the rounds (literally) in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Badly damaged, and long since retired, the merchant turned the chassis into a red gum saw bench of all things, which is as it stayed until moving into Spud’s workshop for a new lease of life.
Spud set to work cutting out all the rust, boxed the chassis, shortened it 12 inches at either end and pinched it 8 inches at the front. With friends in the right places, Spud borrowed a ‘35 Ford Roadster body mould and pulled a one-off body from it, but the only fibreglass areas he used from it were the quarter panels and the front cowl.
Spud wanted as much metal in this car as possible, but with the right parts hard to find, he set about making what he needed himself. He hand fabricated a bonnet, two doors, all the floor panels and a partial roll cage from steel.
Many of the project parts were sourced from right inside Spud’s workshop. Having worked on all kinds of different projects over the years meant that he, like any hot rodder, had built up a collection of “you never know when that may come in handy” parts, and many of them ended up on the new roadster.
“I took the pick-up to Chopped [Rod & Custom Show] last year for a couple of hours not knowing what to expect. Then I saw all these guys throwing their hot rods around a dirt track and I thought, wow I have to come back and do that next year.” Spud’s eyes widened when describing the moment, the inspiration and intentions clear in his mind. “I really just wanted to throw together something simple, a rough ratter, something to have some fun in, and then the car started taking a life of it’s own” says Spud. “It went to the next level, as these things tend to do.”
Perfectly illustrating how the car had moved to another level from a ‘rough ratter’, just two days before the photo shoot Spud was on the strip at Heathcote Park Raceway in Victoria giving the roadster a Saturday afternoon shakedown to see what she would do. My first words as I walked in to Spud’s workshop that Monday morning were “so, how did you get on at the track on Saturday?” Spud pointed down to a box of bits on the floor next to the car. There was what was left of a gearbox that had multiplied the number of it’s parts at least twofold, quite aggressively from what I could see..
“There’s a bit of work to do,” said Spud, “but it was a hell of a lot of fun!”
Nick (Spud) Crocitti.
1934 Roadster body- steel & fibreglass
1936 Ford Chassis
Chev 327: 400hp
4 speed Muncie box
444: 9'" rear end
Front - 16x5 600 Firestone
Rear - 16x5 750 Firestone
This article first appeared in Fuel Magazine issue 11.