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History

 

Who, in their right mind, would name a AA/Fuel Coupe "The Gizzle Hopper"? Why that would be Texan Travis Perrenot of the extensive Perrenot racing family. Aside from being a drag racer, Travis was also a cartoonist with a vivid imagination. When they built the coupe in 1961 (after having dragsters) the cartoon came first then he had to name it. Looks like a Gizzle Hopper to us.

The Perrenot racing family of Corpus Christi, Texas, consisted of Fred (the old man, builder and money bags), Peggy (the matriarch and iron fists controller of the money), Travis (the oldest boy, chief mechanic and artists), Brian (the youngest boy, driver of the car and also a mechanic), Leanna (the daughter) and Miss Vicky Straight (Brian's girl friend at the time and now his wife of 45 years). The Perrenot's began their drag racing in early 1956 after Fred got into a verbal contest of wills over a nailhead powered car at the drag races in Rockport, Texas. Fred thought the car was gorgeous, but didn't think much of those nailheads and said so. Basically he was told by the owner to "shut up or put up". The Perrenot's were off to the races. After several Caddy powered dragsters and a few years, the Lincoln powered Gizzle Hopper was born.

 

 

The Lincoln powered car was run between early 1961 and late 1962. In those days Texas was just about all AHRA so that's what they mostly ran with some NHRA dates on occasion. The car, at AHRA races of the day, was classified as an AA/G or AA/F Competition Coupe & Sedan depending on the fuel they ran. They ran gas the first year and fuel the second. The car won the AHRA World Championships in its class (AA/G CC&S) at Green Valley at the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds in 1961 and runner upped at the same race in AA/F CC&S in 1962. Unfortunately Brian totaled the car in late 1962 and the family went back to racing dragsters.

 

The Gizzle Hopper sans body in 1961.

 

Orangeline

 

 

Travis and Brian had had several discussions as early as 2000 about attending the CHHR and possibly recreating one of the old cars. Brian's favorite was their last AAG dragster "The Red Witch", but Travis' favorite was the AA Fuel Coupe "The Gizzle Hopper". They made plans on going to Bakersfield in 2001, but Brian had medical problems and couldn't make it so they planned again for 2002. Unfortunately Travis suddenly passed away before they could make it happen. Travis' wife, Bobby, passed away a very short time later. The artistic part of the family had come and gone. Brian and Vicky (Brian's wife) decided to go to the CHHR in 2003. Brian had been itching to see what all this nostalgia stuff Travis had been yelling about was about. It had been 35 odd years since either had been to a drag race. Let alone a nostalgia show like Bakersfield. After looking at all the cars throughout the day and then leaning against the fence near the starting line at Bakersfield watching the old cars come by cackling, belching fire and stinking the place up with nitro fumes it was all over. When Vicky saw the tears in Brian's eyes and the huge smile on his face, she knew it was a done deal. They were about to spend some real money recreating one of the old cars. Since it was Travis' favorite of all the cars they built and without doubt it was their most successful car, the Gizzle Hopper was about to be resurrected.

After getting back to Texas, Brian got started right away searching for those rare MEL (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln) parts. He needed a few simple things like a Wieand Blower manifold, an Isky roller cam, lifters, pushrods and rev kit. A rear blower driven Reath fuel pump drive, a Schieffer double disc clutch and flywheel set up and a front driven magneto set up to name just a few. He joined several internet based organizations such as The MEL Forum, the H.A.M.B and the Lincoln Forum in an attempt to locate parts. He started making calls to Weiand, Isky, Moon, Howard's Cams, Reath's Automotive, M/T, Scheiffer and others only to discover that many were no longer in business, bought out by others or worse. He contacted the likes of Don Garlits, Olin Davis, the NHRA museum and others looking for contact information for those that used to run Lincolns such as Leland Kolb, Marvin Swartz and Ted Cyr. He found out that these old war horses had been long gone for a while or were no longer available. Bottom line: with the exception of a few contacts made on the H.A.M.B., Brian found himself the only information memory bank left for the Lincoln engine.

Brian stated that he knew there were five items he had to find to make this thing work. He could make or have made everything else. He needed a Weiand 671 blower manifold, an Isky cam (any good hot cam would do. He would lie if need be and say it was an Isky), the Scheiffer aluminum flywheel and clutch, the Reath fuel pump drive and a good 430 CI Lincoln engine.

The Lincoln engine was found in Michigan very quickly. It even ran. It took nearly a year to find a blower manifold in Kansas City and two to locate the Reath fuel pump drive out in California. But both were eventually located thanks to the internet. A NOS Isky 5cyle roller cam was found in California, an old, but usable set of Isky roller lifters in Tulsa, OK, an old, but usable schieffer flywheel and floater plate in Washington State, a set of NOS Isky 1.5:1 adjustable rocker armswere also in Tulsa. The hard parts were found…the big 5 located. The construction work got started in 2005.

Since there were few pictures of the old car available (who could afford a camera in those days),the car was built from two old shots and a lot of memories from Brian's head. The chassis is 3" .080 wall on top and 1" .080 wall on the bottom just like the original car. The roll bar is 1 3/4 " .125 wall. The front end and steering was taken off a purchased donor car from Arizona. The car was from the early 60's and it was exactly the same parts as the original car had. The rear end is from a 60 Oldsmobile with 3:50 something gears. The body, a fiberglass replica of sorts of a 1931 Vicky, was chopped, channeled, sectioned and otherwise modified to resemble as closely as possible a 1931 Bantam Coupe which was on the original Gizzle hopper. Brian says that this was his first time working fiberglass and hopefully his last. Brian is still in search of an original metal '31 or '32 Bantam Coupe body. He will replace the one on the coupe now if he can find a good usable Bantam.

 

The chassis was first on the laundry list of things to do.

 

 

The car on all fours featuring the original front and rear wheels/tires.

 

 

Taking shape - the engine aligned and mounted.

 

Driveline and pedals in place.

 

 

 

The engine was then mocked up in the chassis.

 

 

 

 

After the engine was aligned the body was fitted and mounted.

 

 

 

 

With the chassis and body basically done the next step was the tin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The blower drive had to be custom machined.

 

 

 

The original pump drive needed repair.

 

Unique fuel pump drive off the back of the blower.

 

 

The mag drive had to be fabricated as well.

 

 

All the engine parts were sent out for machining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perrenot's declare - she's nearly done.

 

 

Lastly the body was mounted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First fire-up of the massive Lincoln.

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

The Gizzle Hopper made it public debut at the 2008 National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, KY.

 

The Perrenot Family "The Gizzle Hopper" Lincoln powered AA/FC.

 

Garlits was more than a little interested in the Lincoln engine.

 

 

Brian Perrenot in his "The Gizzle Hopper" Lincoln powered AA/FC during the Cacklefest Parade.

 

 

The maiden voyage went perfectly.

 

THIS is a Gizzle Hopper

 

Orangeline

 

After a successful outing at Bowling Green, Perrenot was ready for The Big Show - the 2008 California Hot Rod Reunion which is the signature Cacklefest event of the year.

 

Every year the CHRR has several first timers and "The Gizzle Hopper" Lincoln powered AA/FC was by far the most interesting.

 

 

This year the CHRR Cacklefest featured nearly 70 cars. The parade itself took 1/2 hour.

 

 

 

 

 

Perrenot successfully executed the push start down the fabled Famoso push road.

 

 

 

Parked in its spot, The Gizzle Hopper belches flames making its statement as the only Lincoln engine in the entire show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

The Gizzle Hopper Becomes Third Generation

After the car was nearly complete, Brian thought "why not make this a three generation deal". Fred (Dad) built the original car and Brian (Freds youngest son) drove it. Now Brian re-creates it and Gretchen (Freds grand daughter does the driving). How cool. At the time of completion of the GIzzle Hopper, Gretchen was still working in Kuwait for the Army, but she was coming home in August. Brian e-mailed her and asked if she would like to be the driver. She jumped on it and said "oh hell yeah". Some alterations were in order such as moving the seat and peddals somewhat.

Gretchen got home and she immediately got involved. She missed the NHHR at Bowling Green (still in Kuwait) and the CHHR (on her honeymoon), but has been to several nostalgia events since. She loves the deal and is making plans to be at BG and Bakersfield next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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