We’ve all read about fathers passing the torch onto to their son and quite often this is really a metaphor for a similar situation. In the case of Joe and Troy Fava it’s quite literally the truth. “Growing up dad use to maintain and restore vehicles owned by the well healed Smorgon family until he eventually started working from home for his own clientele. When I was about 13 dad asked me what career path I wanted to choose and if I wanted to pursue panel beating he would set up a purpose built shop and support me through trade school,” Troy fondly recalls. Troy didn’t take too much convincing to ditch school and get on with life in an industry, which he believes was his destiny anyway.
Western Smash Repairs was the company created by his father and cousin Jeff to help Troy forge his own career in automotive refinishing whilst sustaining permanent employment for the family trio. As with any new business the first year trading is often the hardest and this was the case at WSR. The lean start forced Jeff into accepting employment at the local Holden dealership leaving Troy and his dad with the unenviable decision to either, stick it out and do whatever it takes to keep afloat, or fold. At just 15 years old Troy was keen to keep the small family business going and put in the necessary effort to move forward.
With ten years under their belt WSR had outgrown their current available space and Troy and his dad moved the business to a larger facility. When the adjoining business decided to terminate, Troy seized the opportunity to purchase the empty workshop and expand WSR into both premises. Unfortunately their advancement would become short lived as three months later Joe suffered a severe stroke leaving Troy to not only run the shop for nearly nine months alone, but also support his parents at the same time. Recently engaged at the time, Troy’s fiancé Martene left her employer to come on board and help stabilise the rocky boat and together they built the business into a successful company that now employs four skilled tradesmen producing high quality workmanship with outstanding results.
For the past decade or so Mustangs and muscle cars have been the predominant vehicles to roll out of the WSR workshop but with Troy’s own taste now leaning towards traditional style hot rods, coupled with employee Sean Hammonds passion for earlier iron, there has been increased involvement with owners of early modified vehicles.
Troy subscribes to the strut-your-own-stuff policy and when he stumbled onto this ’34 coupe up for grabs it was a no brainer to turn it into a rolling advertisement for the shop to promote its diversity in motor vehicle repair and restoration. Troy explains, “I went to a friends house as I was interested in buying a vintage Scott blower he had and my cousin was looking at swapping his ’55 Chev for the ’34. I bought the blower and a few bits and pieces and during our conversation I inquired about the price of the old coupe. I told him that my cousin would be mad not to buy the car for what he was asking and in turn found myself doing a deal with my Harley and some cash. I walked in to buy a blower and came out with a hot rod!” he laughs.
What Troy had purchased was a reproduction 1934 three window coupe produced by Bob Cain in fibreglass and built as a hot rod back in the 80s. The tired old paint was black with a wide white racing stripe running from front to back reminding him of a skunk, but he could see the potential of a killer shop rod with a nice piece of attached history as Bob only made a handful of these faithful repro bodies. As soon as the coupe rolled into the shop it was given to their gun dismantler for a complete teardown. “The original paint was so hard and brittle Sean and I paint scraped the whole body by hand,” he recalls.
The next day Troy enlisted a team of six guys to work over the chopped coupe and by days end the car was coated in polyester primer ready for sanding including the addition of a new cowl vent. It’s amazing what six gun ho guys can achieve in just one day. Simultaneously the drive train was disassembled leaving the pistons and block intact as the running motor was still in good nick.
The car sat unattended during work hours until Troy got a chance to push the body into the spay booth and flow over the PPG custom mix light blue, a colour chosen for easy maintenance while keeping the traditional good looks of a 50s period perfect style rod. The original unboxed frame was once home to a tudor of the same vintage and lucky for Troy a lot of the original hard to get pieces came attached to the coupe body, including the genuine ’34 grille and jewellery, wind out windscreen and deluxe dash, stock Henry Ford bonnet and original headlights now mounted on dropped stanchions.
Deciding to keep the 1938-era twin fed flathead solved any headache of boxing the stock chassis and the boys pretty much replaced or refurbished the pre-existing components that propel and halt this ultra cool company car. That hot rod rake is courtesy of a few new items added to the mix starting with a Magnum 5” drop axle, mono leaf spring, four bar and a pair of Pete & Jake shocks.
Nearing the end of the second week of this fast forward build, Adrian of Kool Trim was given the nod to stitch together a traditional black on black interior in pronto time which he aced effortlessly. The accented white piping works perfectly with pinstriping by Ryan Ford who also hand brushed the cool WSR logo on the rear quarter. Emulating the great Tommy The Greek, Ryan’s contrasting horse haired licks add valued nostalgia to the fresh rebuild.
With the two week thrash over, Troy saddled up the coupe and joined partner in crime Sean Hammond on a fun bound trip to participate in the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Valla rod run, 1400km due north. Why I hear you ask? Just to prove it can be done in a flathead powered hot rod without dramas. The twin carbed flatty was quite happy keeping pace with Sean’s small block Chevy equipped coupe but was quite a bit thirstier. On close inspection during a fuel stop Troy noticed the throttle linkage connecting the second Stromberg had detached and swiftly refastened it. When his fuel bill escalated from crazy to ridiculous the offending carby was quickly disconnected again… on purpose.
Fuel can be easily exchanged for cash, but charm, character and soul can only be earned and experienced. Guy’s like Troy and his team understand this and the proof is the car on these pages before you, built to showcase their skills and knowledge of transforming an underwhelming hot rod into a timeless triumph. Pure and simple.
FULL FEATURE CRUZIN #151. WORDS AND PHOTOS BY DALE HABERFIELD / MILLBROOK STUDIO