Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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DIRECTOR’S CUT – JEFF CHANDLER 1934 FORD ROADSTER

Rewind 10 years or so. Retired company owner Jeff Chandler and his wife Larraine thought it might be nice to own a vintage car. Tracking down a tired but complete 1928 Ford tourer, even after pulling it down and rebuilding it, it didn’t take long for them to realise that 1920’s motoring was hard work. Slow, hard to drive and not very comfortable were the primary complaints, despite the maroon Model A turning out to be a very nice car.

A far better option was a hot rod, but before Jeff could lift the phone and order a set of chassis rails, Larraine put the brakes on. “I don’t want to wait another 5 or 6 years for another car,” she protested with good reason, which sent Jeff scurrying for the classifieds instead. The result was one well worn 1934 Ford roadster being shipped from Townsville to his Brisbane home. “The car was what I wanted, but it wasn’t really what I wanted,” recalls Jeff who quickly started planning some upgrades.

“My first car was a Willys 77,” he reveals as we spoke a little about his past. Turns out that Jeff was a speedway freak back in the late 70s, spending much of his spare time in the pits at the Brisbane Exhibition Speedway. “As I got older and established a business, I would sponsor A Grade Bombers at Archerfield. One of them won 19 races straight! I also sponsored a nine second B/Gas Torana drag car back in the 1980s.”

The Deuce Customs-bodied roadster was already fitted with a small block, Holden front end and white interior. The hue is as you see here, in fact the body has only been touched up in places, albeit the fenders have been freshly painted. The Sapphire colour is from a Ford Festiva and what once were green flames have now been blocked out in more sinister tones. Jeff went right through the existing HR front end adding big Brembo brakes in the process.

The driveline has been upgraded with a 383 stroker motor, but growing tired of visits to the gas pump Jeff invested in a Powerjection EFI kit and hasn’t looked back. “It used to take me two tanks of fuel to drive up to Maryborough, now I can get there and half way back!” he quips. The compact Weiand 144 supercharger is the best option for the street in Jeff’s opinion. The completed package was run in on the dyno and scored a respectable 610hp at the flexplate! The Turbo 700 auto is the third one to date and hopefully the last, whilst the Ford nine inch rear is packed with 31 spline axles just in case.

When it came to inside Jeff wanted something special. “I wanted the upholstery to be voluptuous, luxurious, like a lounge suite,” he reasons. He discussed his plans with Shane Webb at Image Trimming who built the seats and constructed the curvaceous centre console. The console isn’t just there for looks, numerous compartments house switches and accessories, the subwoofer control, and there’s even accomodation for two bottles of wine and a couple of glasses! Terracotta leather got the nod over the usual beige, accompanied by black Ostrich inserts. The design continues on the door panels, the dicky seat and inside the removable hardtop which externally is covered in Mercedes cloth. Jeff also enlarged the rear window for practicality.

There’s plenty of electric gadgetry; the dicky seat lid is electric and the removable roof is released via motorised poppers. The GPS speedometer proved to be a worthy investment and the reversing camera is hard to live without once you’ve become accustomed it. If you’re curious about the vents, it’s not air conditioned but there is a heater for chilly days.

There’s plenty of bling outside to attract your attention, most notable the chrome 17” and 18” Foose wheels. The compact headlights are from Headwinds and Jeff also added the single spear billet LED tail lights, but only after Oz Rods altered the lenses to include an amber indicator. Nerf bars front and rear, wind wings and that thoughtfully rounded fuel tank with faux straps are all recent additions. The ’34 front end themed pinstripe design on the boot lid flagged the finish of the makeover.

Much of the work on the roadster has been carried out at Oz Rods, Jeff is so pleased with the result that he’s involved them in his next project, an Australian-bodied ’34 Ford sedan. Like the roadster, it’s an older hot rod which he’s going to restore and restyle the way he wants it and work is already well underway.

BY GAVIN KELSO, PHOTOS DANIEL WARD, FULL FEATURE CRUZIN #167.

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