The most commonly asked question
of Tom Hanna about his masterpiece is, "Why?" Who better
to answer that question than Tom himself. Here is "Why"
in his own words:
Someone once said that, if you
can't explain it in a paragraph, it's probably a bad idea.
Someone else said; There are
two reasons for everything we do: The real reason and the one
that sounds good.
Before I started this thing,
The only certainty was, that I knew I wanted to do a Cacklefest
car. Bill Pitts has infected us with a heavenly disease. I had
in hand the Baney Prudhomme "Shelby Super Snake" Don
Long car in an excellent state of health. At the time I assumed
(correctly) that good parts for a Ford Cammer would be a tough
find, and the original "barber pole" paint scheme left
me cold. Torn between turning it into something it never was
and a restoration I couldn't put my heart in, being the champion
procrastinator that I am, I did nothing.
Art Chrisman knew I had the Baney
car. We had discussed it a couple of times, but I didn't know
he would find a place for it, or the slightest interest in it.
One Day I got a call from a Ford door car collector with an offer
4 times what I paid... naturally I sold it. Two days later, Art
called with a home for it. Yikes! Such is life and its timing.
Sadly, the car got a rather childish static restoration (which
was what the buyer wanted for his museum) and so ends that chapter.
I had never previously owned
a car I was burning to recreate, and recreating one of which
the original might surface, brings pause.
A chance phone call provided
my direction. The caller (of a more recent generation) suggested
the cars of my era were "crude" compared to today's,
although unquestionably more artistic. That indictment ignores
a couple of important realities: The relative budgets of the
periods and a mountain of technical aeromotive progress over
the last 40 years.
Less complex, they indeed were.
But, "crude"? Certainly not the ones built by the professionals
I admired. I wondered what if; I built, without prototype, an
instantly identifiable 1968 Top Fuel Dragster using a few of
the benefits readily available to today's builder? Given a level
field, perhaps those old geezers weren't so crude after all.
I had few considerations going
in. I wanted a 392/417. They just look cleaner and rhyme with
the Mole's (Ed Donovan) poetry. The full body was a given, and
I wanted general proportions and details that were an unapologetic
rip-off of Kent Fuller's work. He is after all, the Leonardo
I wanted also to include where
I could, a little influence representing some of the other folks
I admire. A complete list is impossible, but there is in the
chassis, a little Woody, a lot of Don Long, and a touch of Roy
Fjestad. The front hubs are the originals built in 1965 by Tom
Jobe for the Surfers ll car. Bob Knight wasn't available to do
one of his magnificent steering wheels, so I took a shot at a
quasi copy of the one he made for Mulligan.
We started sometime in 2000 and
we were at best hit and miss on the project. We would go for
months and not touch the thing. By mid 2001 we dug in in earnest
and finished (sort of) in time for the '01 California Hot Rod
Much is owed to the following
who were most generous in seeing this thing to completion:
My talented and faithful associates:
Chuck Luney, Corey Conyers, Tim Carver, Charley Timmons.
My humor, wisdom and common sense
guru: Bob Creitz. A truer friend there isn't.
At Donovan Engineering: Ed, Kathy,
Fred and Woody. At Enderle: Jim and Kent. Mark Williams Enterprises,
Tom Kelly and Son graphics, Dawson Bros. Plating, Gene Mooneyham,
Dale Emery, Tom Cirello, Saum Engineering, Steve Carbone, Sherm's
plating, H&L metals, Steve Leach and his extraordinary team
at RCD Engineering.
And for their immeasurable influence
and unreachable example; Don Long, Kent Fuller, John Buttera,
Tom Jobe, Roberto Skinner, Tim Beebe, Frank and Scott Parks,
Phil Remington, Bruce Crower, Pat Foster, Paul Sutherland, Pete
Ogden, Dick Crawford, Steve Davis and Art Chrisman.
An off shoot of this effort is
that I find myself happily back in the hot rod building business.
A conventional retirement is beyond my tolerance. Building stuff
for people who appreciate functional art is as good as a second
childhood. I look foreword to Mondays!