Paul Body is like many of our grass roots readers, where passion for old cars is sometimes outweighed by limited resources. While some may settle for second step on the podium, Paul played the waiting game in hope of catching a break. It paid off.
Back in 1968, Paul dragged home an old 1934 Dodge sedan with full intentions of transforming it into a hot rod. “Mum and dad thought something was wrong with me as I was passionate about old cars and they didn’t get it,” Paul remarks.
To bring the ’34 up to spec, it was taken to a guy who installed a 289 Windsor and trans coupled to a Customline diff. Paul recalls that there were also other odds and ends added in the deal but the workmanship was a little on the rough side. “It looked like a vintage car but went like a rocket in 1969,” Paul recalls fondly. Eventually the revamped old Dodge bit the dust and it was pulled off the road to be fixed. “Trouble was I had no real idea of what to do,” he confesses.
Even though his fun machine was shelved temporarily, his interest in old cars never waned… it actually increased! “Thinking back, I put money into the wrong areas like a tunnel ram and roller rockers,” he admits, “I should have put that towards bodywork.”
After 20 years of storage it was sold unrepaired, but during that time Paul had accumulated other early Mopars to fill the void.
“My brother bought the ’29 coupe in 1972 before I purchased it off him around ‘77. I also had a Victory Six tourer for a while that was also owned by my brother. I always wanted to do something with the coupe but never had the money or garage at the same time. Then I got divorced and it just sat idle. Then I had no garage… again. A restorer bought the tourer and another restorer offered me a dollar for the coupe as he said I’d never do anything with it, but I could see that it was special, so I hung onto it.”
Turning over a new page in the big book of life, Paul remarried and finally caught his lucky break. “I won lotto!” he says, beaming. “It was my wife Anne that encouraged me to put the winnings towards the coupe. ‘You’ve worked hard and this is a chance to do what you want,’ she said. Who was I to argue?”
Indeed, with a 102k in his back pocket, Paul was a man on a long overdue mission.
Paul’s early exploits with the Dodge sedan had introduced him to like-minded car guys like seasoned rodder, Ray Flaherty and others, who he sought for advise to locate reputable qualified people with skills to help him with his quest.
“I was put onto an ace chassis man who bluntly said that he didn’t do those type of cars. He was the one who put me onto Stewart Campbell. I called him up and said what I had and that I wanted to put a Kew motor in it, and he invited me to come up and have a talk. After an extensive chinwag I expected him to complete the chassis component of the project, motor and stuff and then I would take it away to a panel beater and upholsterer and such. Then I showed him some photos and surprised him that it was a coupe. He was then more than happy to take over the entire build.”
What Paul had been hoarding for the past 26 years was a Budd bodied 1929 Victory Six, imported to Australia as a factory right drive, now in very average condition. The package consisted of the body shell, both doors, rear guards and an original chassis.
Paul and Stewie (as Paul refers him) embarked on a resurrection journey that spanned 12 years. That’s more than an average jail sentence, but the outcome it nothing short of spectacular.
“Along the way we had our differences and he and I clashed over some of the parts that made their way onto the finished coupe,” Paul recalls, “things like the headlight bar; he suggested bullet headlights and I said no! I wanted the original headlight bar and he said no… it was ugly… and he was right, so he won out in the end on that one. He’s not real keen on the stainless grill mesh but I love it. He won out on the upholstery too… thank God, as the completed interior is so much better than the pleats that I was thinking of. Over all I wanted it to look like a restored car that was lowered… just a bit.”
Stewie Campbell’s previous automotive accomplishments have been well documented over the years, speaking volumes of his creative genius and his love for the Chrysler product. Unbeknown to his client at the time, Paul and his forlorn coupe were in very safe hands. Thankfully, Stewie shared the same passion as Paul and accepted the project with very few conditions. The most notable was an agreed pay rate that wouldn’t increase throughout the build as long as he was allowed to work on it when time allowed. Hence the extended completion date!
Starting from the ground up, Stewie boxed the stock frame from the firewall forward and added a K-member to stiffen up the rear. All original suspension was rebuilt and re-installed, albeit a little closer to terra firma than the Dodge brothers intended. Helping out the improved stance is the modified axle, dropped 2 ¼ inches by the hands of Garry Page. Pete and Jake’s shocks up front and Valiant gas units out back help cushion the ride, while a quartet of Ford drum brakes halts the rolling assembly. To apply the binders, Stewie custom made a pedal box that activates a Nissan master cylinder mated to a Gemini booster.
For motivation, Paul didn’t want just another 70s something V8, he was insistent that a Dodge Kew mill would be the power plant of choice, a choice that was very favourable to his man on the tools.
Paul found the Kew motor through the Chrysler Restorers Club and delivered it to Stewie. The first thing Stewie said was that he should hot it up. Paul said no, he wanted it stock. “You should really hot it up!” he urged. “No, I want it stock!’ I replied.”
“After I had it reconditioned the mechanic said that he put a ‘cam’ in it and that I should do something about increasing the carburetion to make it get up and go. That was music to Stewies ears. He won.”
From that small deviation from the stock-as-a-rock engine rebuild, all bets were off and Paul got the hop up bug, purchasing not one, but two Edgy alloy heads to add into the speed parts mix, one for him and one for Stewie. The super cool S J Brown inlet manifold he found at Ballarat swap meet where he learned that it had served marine duty. Stewie machined the carby bosses flat for its new application, adding twin Holden Strombergs and matching finned air cleaners. Custom made two piece headers exit spent gasses ignited by a Mallory twin point dizzy. Backing up the Ross Burges warmed over flat six is a Ford three speed top loader with overdrive, that Stewie patterned by combining a Dodge pressure plate and Ford clutch plate spinning a lightened flywheel.
Paul also supplied the Tank Fairlane 9” diff that completes the stout driveline.
When the Victory Six was released in 1928, it was advertised with a lower roofline and factory channel. When punters complained that they couldn’t wear their hats in the new profile, the sedan roofs were raised three inches to satisfy public demand. The following ’29 DA also continued with the revised turret height but thankfully the coupes remained unchanged.
Another massive plus in owning a Budd body compared to the locally produced versions is that the imported shells were all steel construction, incorporating only timber for upholstery tack strips, and not structural integrity. While the body was being transformed from beaten and bruised to brilliantly beautiful, the fabric inset turret was filled with fresh steel.
Slowly, Paul completed his coupe by locating all the missing pieces stating that the bonnet was the hardest part to find, as local cars were built by Richards Body Builders, and his required the rarer Budd body bonnet.
“Black was my original colour of choice. Over the twelve-year duration I wavered a bit, but ultimately I came back to black,” he confesses. “Paul’s decision was cemented after he attended a Victory Six rally in 2001, where a stunning restored black sedan with all the bells and whistles stood out in the crowd. “I wanted it black with all the bells and whistles,” he says unashamedly.
The grill shell is original Victory Six with the top half ’29 and the bottom ’28, with the only difference being the crank hole.
“The grill badge is also original, that I had gold plated with loads of copper for strength. I think it looks a million bucks against the chrome,” Paul adds. “The bolt of lightening in the insignia represents speed and the tree is an oak tree, representing strength. It took me 30 years to find that out.” Paul also divulges that the Victory Six had a plain radiator cap with about 12 sides, this one depicting a shooting star is from a ‘31 Dodge, after that they went to the more commonly known ram that’s still used today.
After Mick Ling had his way with the body it was Joel Butcher who had the unenviable task of laying down the Jet Black exterior. The resounding result is complemented by cream coloured ’34 Dodge wires shod with Diamond Back white walls supplied by John Cain. Finessed with Dodge scripted caps and lavished with a wealth of highly polished chrome, we think Paul got his bells and whistles.
When attention was directed toward the interior, another battle brewed between owner and originator. Paul wanted rolls and pleats, black on black, a winning combination on most occasions. Stewie had other ideas. Not wanting an interior to play second fiddle to the exterior, Stewie enlisted the expertise of Tidy Trim in Newcastle to sway Paul into another direction… and colour.
“Once I saw the intended design marked out on the door trim, I was sold. We had a disagreement about the console idea but we got through it,” Paul laughs.
“When we discussed the upholstery colour choice I wanted something sexy, like what you would find in early Corvettes. Red does that. It also shows the detail in the stitching.”
With the green light on colour choice illuminated, the luscious lipstick inspired hue was stitched in a pattern echoing the Victory Six “V”. Deep red cut pile carpet continues the rich colour palette while cream headlining emerges from the garnish moulds up. A clever combination of restored original components such as the gauge panel, modified steering column and wheel blend in perfect collaboration to complete an interior that is elegantly stunning. It’s a term that appropriately describes the entire vehicle.
From the curbside profile to the unique hopped up flat six, Paul’s ’29 coupe with a difference ticks all the boxes. Yes it’s current identity was paved by a monetary windfall, but its owner could have just as easily bought a 4×4 and gone bush, visited Antarctica or stuffed it into the bank. But that isn’t in the fibre of a true hot rodder at heart. Paul had a dream, and also the patience. It was an ideal amalgamation between two passionate enthusiasts of the same brand that made it a reality.
“I did have to wait for it, but it was worth it. There are things that make it special that would not have been on the car if it were completed in half the time. Thanks to Stewie, I have the car that I desired for so long, done right. I also owe a special thank you to my wife, Anne who told me to build the car that I was always talking about, and I have.”
In our book, that’s a bonafide victory.
BY DALE HABERFIELD, PHOTOS BY MILLBROOK STUDIO
FULL FEATURE IN CRUZIN #179