Monday, December 25, 2006

This 1962 VW bus is as odd as it looks.....From Hot Rod

Ken Prather, the creator of this stunning '62 VW drag-style bus had a vision.

"I always wanted to build a mid-engine hot rod," he says. "The first thing I did was chop the top, then I pulled the motor. And you know how it escalates once you start on something." Originally a hippy van with a wooden bunk and table, this powerful machine now sports a mid-engine blown 355 small-block, 310 louvers, and an outrageous 7-inch chop.
Ken's build evokes the stark feel of a vintage Gasser with customized drag seats, a Sprint Car steering wheel, and a handbuilt dash sporting giant Auto Meter gauges and some toggle switches. Zeus fasteners make the entire piece removable for easy access to the brake master cylinder mounted below. The precisely hung suicide doors lift by the chrome mirrors instead of the door handles, and Ken has to slide head-first past the steel rollcage into the aluminum seats. Other tasteful performance modifications include a fuel cell, a drag parachute, and a throttle pedal made out of a spoon from the kitchen of his understanding wife, Georgia.

Hooking up the blown Chevy to the rest of the driveline, the head-snapping, full-manual 350 automatic attaches directly from its yoke to the differential. The Ford rear was narrowed a whopping 14 inches to fit inside the custom frame, which is like a giant swing arm from the engine back, and it accommodates monstrous 10-inch wide American five-spoke wheels out back. When Ken piloted the beast 4,000 miles from his home in Waterford, Pennsylvania, to the Bonneville Salt Flats last August, he coaxed 8-10 mpg out of the two Holley four-barrels.
Several external body panels are attached with more Zeus fasteners to allow access to the drivetrain and make it possible to change both front and rear tires out on the road. Ken grafted a Dodge truck radiator with two 16-inch fans to keep the motor cool. Applying hot-rodder resourcefulness, he also created a 5-gallon spray system that wets down the radiator using the same principles of an old leather canteen strapped to the front of a Model A going across the desert.

Some of speed culture's finest have added their seals of approval by autographing the dash, including Bonneville legend Bob Pierson. "Oh yes, I like the chop!" Pierson told Ken after a joyride at the Salt Flats. "This bus is an absolutely marvelous piece. The beauty of the movement today is that they are building things we wouldn't even have considered." Don Garlits added his signature after checking out the VW at a car show. He took one look at the masterfully bent headers with 4-inch collectors and the polished 6-71 blower and told Prather, "It looks like my dyno-room at the shop."
Daring to be different, Ken invested four years in metal bending, frame building, and custom fabrication, and the result is a hot rod pushing ahead of the cultural curve. But what about the paint? "I'm having too much fun just the way it is. You know, if a part starts looking ratty, I just re-primer it."



Post a Comment

<< Home