The Most Painstaking(ly Fabulous) Builds You'll Ever Find
There are unique automotive historical events that us gearheads hold in the highest regard. It could be the release of an iconic concept car, a major race win or milestone, or just a significant build - in fact, you've probably got something significant popping into your mind right now. We might commemorate the events we hold dearest with a picture on our wall, a book or a miniature model on our shelves. There are others who just aren't satisfied with a memento though and want to be as close to the time and place as possible. So, searching they will go, as avid car collectors, to find the most perfect (or near it) example or historical car. Some will find the cars they're seeking, perhaps casting their stares on them in places like museums - others might seek them out on the auction block, paying a pretty penny to actually own one of these cars and take it home (such as this Tucker we once visited.)
However, the problem is that for some of us, the cars we're seeking are just no longer there. Now only distant memories, they may have been lost somewhere along the line or destroyed by a race (like this land speed racer) or simply just the elements. (Or never were made to begin with... again with a Tucker, this original concept was never made but is currently in progress.)
Well, there are those of us out there crazy enough to seek out re-creating these icons of automobilia. It's a labor of love - above and beyond the normal restoration that is. These are cars that may just start from a photograph, or a steering wheel, or an engine part. Generally, we think of starting with a solid project car and going from there - but for re-creations it's an entirely different ball game. And while there are collectors out there who may question the validity of a build being a "clone" if it only shares the same steering wheel as the original, the definitive answer to these questions is neither here nor there - what these cars all do have is that they are really awesome and very historic in their own rights. These are builds that are allowing us all to step back in time and view a part of automotive history long gone... and even race it if we want, without the possibility of harming the original artifact.
Those that have taken on the laborious job of cloning a car are more than just guys hammering and welding. Hard research and quality pictures are your best friend before you even get in the garage and start thrashing. These people have a huge respect for history and are historians in their own right. The task might start off with simply reading an article or book that mentions and shows a car that these people just fall in love with. A history report must be made, finding as many good pictures of the car as possible in order to get an understanding of size and dimensions. A decent profile shot becomes key to building a car of this magnitude. With a profile shot in hand, along with a definite known dimension, such as a wheel size, one can start dissecting a car to the nth degree.
When all the info is done and the measurements are made its time to go start finding the hard parts for the build - you've got to know the products that were available at the time and be able to get them or reproduce them. This is one of the hurdles that can make or break the clone from being believable. Say you own a specific motor that was in the car you're building... first, you'll need a picture of the motor in it's heyday showing the way it was set up and all the speed parts used. This work in research will help you find the right path. Some of these parts are like hens teeth to find and tracking them down can take years of searching.
We'll be looking at three historic car recreations more closely in the following articles and each are notable in their own right. The MQQN Dragster was recreated so it could legally race (and not destroy the original car). The Isky U-Fab example represents a milestone in drag racing history. Finally, the Danny Sakai Lakester was built as an ode to Danny Sakai and the presence of this type of build in early land speed racing. All three cars are amazingly and painstakingly built to perfection for different reasons, but at the same time the builders offer a physical history lesson as well. Come back soon to continue reading about these amazing automotive clones.