“Basically my wife and I were looking to buy a cool car,” says Lee Sutherland, referring to the red-on-red supercharged Ford coupe before you, at the time owned by Marsh Rodders member Phil Pieper. “I like the muscle cars, ‘69 Camaros, that sort of thing, but Marie’s not a fan so we started looking around at hot rods. We saw this one advertised locally,”
“My wife wanted a convertible and I’m like, ‘this is Melbourne, not Queensland!’ Most roadsters don’t have much in the way of windows! Phil was really good, he said come and have a look and a drive and even if you don’t buy it, you’ll have more info for when you go to Queensland. He was a really good guy. I rang him the next day to tell him I’d take it and he was very subdued on the phone. I asked him if he was ok and he said, “After you left, I thought, why am I even selling it? Then you rang back the next day to say you’d take it.”
Lee’s no novice when it comes to the automotive scene. A diesel mechanic by trade, he cut his teeth as a teenager working on everything from dirt bikes through to his first potentially tough streeter at age 15, an EH Holden with a busted 327 and Muncie box. “My mate was in the Bay Rodders and we used to do our own head work, so we rebuilt the small block and used to sneak out at night and go drag racing out the back of Rye. I sold it when I was 17 to pay for a bike license. After that, I had three GTs plus a bunch of other Fords and Holdens. Then I got into drag racing, with a big block, injected altered running a best of 8.2 secs.”
The deuce was first conceived 13 years ago by Phil, a life long hot rodder with a passion for supercharged hot rods. Phil pieced the coupe together as a hiboy initially, plucking the engine from the white-with-purple-flames ’32 roadster before he sold it off. The full fenders came later, transforming the deuce into a car that for many represents the ultimate hot rod.
A racer at heart, Lee clearly saw value in the supercharged 350, which has been sensibly detuned. Even with the 13% under-driven Fisher blower, Lee still has plenty on tap. “It’s just the right package for this car without being too mental,” says Lee, adding that he would like to swap out the Detroit Locker centre with something a little more streetable. “She’s a thirsty motor, it takes me two tanks of fuel to travel to Melbourne and back and that’s just cruising!”
We’re smitten with the classic red-on-red interior put together by Kool Trim, whilst the ensemble of Autometer gauges support the competition theme. The tilting Ididit column is versatile and the matching billet wheel is subtle enough to fit in anywhere.
“When I saw the old Smith’s heater, I said to Phil, ‘Cool, it’s got a heater’, to which he responded, ‘Take it from me, the last thing you need in this car is a heater.’ He was right,” Lee concludes, thanks to the twin three inch exhaust system running front to rear.
“It’s a good thing (the coupe) for Marie and I. She loves it. The whole family loved drag racing but it was hard work, but with the hot rod, we can go cruising. I’ve met so many people that I haven’t seen in years since my drag racing days.”
And as for buying a ready built ride? “Phil’s done really well with this rod. It looks tough, goes good and you can drive it all day without a worry.”
BY GREG FORSTER, PHOTOS BY CAPRICE PHOTO