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Bill Frick's "Fordillac", who has built it?


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Who has built a version of Bill Frick's "Fordillac" hot rod, from about 1950?  Surely it has been done!  I'd like to, but it might mean sacrificing two '49 Ford bodies -- and sourcing a Caddie flathead V-8, huh?  Never a resin?  Wick

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Easy enough to source; think I have a couple.  But, accrording to what I've read, the original had a flattie.  I once burned myself pretty good on the Cad exhaust manifolds because they, unlike Henry's, came up above the heads, by the intake manifold!  Well, I've left skin on a lot of manifolds!  Wick

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A classic car dealer ran an ad for a few issues many years ago, to sell a '49 or '50 Ford convertible with a Cad engine.  They didn't claim that it was a Frick conversion, but the ad seemed to try to lead you to that conclusion.  That car wasn't lengthened, but it was made into a two-seater with the driving position shifted to the rear a couple of feet.  Hood was lengthened to make up the difference.

I always thought the Fordillac (and later Studellac) conversions were all built around the overhead valve V8.  A Studellac is mentioned in the first James Bond novel.

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The auction ad I quoted was in SPECIAL INTEREST AUTOS MAG about 1971, and specifically noted the non-ohv Caddie.  Yes, i guess I meant lengthened in the hood area, thus requiring the sacrifice of two kits (not making it TOO hard on myself, after all; my time on earth is limited!)  But weren't there other Fordillacs built?  Like the Allard cars, they may have come in many versions as to the powerplants.  So -- any photos of built ones out there?

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Mark, True, and I have both the original issue and much later versions of the '49.  One got it's roof melted when a lamp under which it's new paint was drying (second rep) back in the late '80s, so it's sectioned, pancaked, and t'n'r, a full 'Kustom' now with Buick power, and the other is suffering through a conversion into a '51 to replicate my second car.  Both those Cads are in other kits now.  Well, the L-head would be more interesting; obviously it's gotten some interest on this post! Thx!  WIck

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I have an article about Bill Frick's Garage, and his conversions somewhere.  An old SIA Mag has a full-page ad for 'the' Fordillac; def L-head powered.  I'll dig it up asap.

I'd have to sac two '49 Ford kits to extend those fenders, I guess... though I've done others the hard way = epoxy, sheet plastic, and Bondo.  Still, where would I get a Cad flattie?  Can't be too populous, and while more efficient than the Ford they looked wierd!  Buddy built a '38 Ford hay truck in '63 with a Cad L-head.  Burnt his hand on the exhaust manifold, while trying to set the carb idle, too!  >Hisss!<  Actually, my only intro to the earlier V-8's. Wick

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7 minutes ago, W Humble said:

I have an article about Bill Frick's Garage, and his conversions somewhere.  An old SIA Mag has a full-page ad for 'the' Fordillac; def L-head powered.  I'll dig it up asap.

I'd have to sac two '49 Ford kits to extend those fenders, I guess... though I've done others the hard way = epoxy, sheet plastic, and Bondo.  Still, where would I get a Cad flattie?  Can't be too populous, and while more efficient than the Ford they looked wierd!  Buddy built a '38 Ford hay truck in '63 with a Cad L-head.  Burnt his hand on the exhaust manifold, while trying to set the carb idle, too!  >Hisss!<  Actually, my only intro to the earlier V-8's. Wick

you should only need one kit, the car has its doors and cowl area moved back so I'm guessing its on a stock chassis

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Les: maybe, but I had enough 'shoebox' (don't like that nickname!) Fords to be able to tell that the front fenders a 'way over length from stock.  Also, wonder where that unassuming little fender trim originated?  Some old Cad, probably.  This example (may have been more?) seems to have '51 chrome tail-light moldings; more bling the better on Fordillacs.  Really, sounds like something Dr. Seuss would make up!  Also, I have to wonder what kind of hinges that extended hood must have required; the FoMoCo items were not winners, even at 12 years old, when mine was acquired in '63!  The steel reinforcing that extended thing would have required must have made it weigh sixty pounds, at least!

I know Scotland doesn't take credit for the Jaguar.  My younger bro left a lot of skin on the beautifully enameled black exhaust manifold of his 3.8S Saloon.  Three power-steering boxes later (leaked when brand-new rebuilt from the box!) he sold it.  Credit?   Wick

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24 minutes ago, W Humble said:

Les: maybe, but I had enough 'shoebox' (don't like that nickname!) Fords to be able to tell that the front fenders a 'way over length from stock.  Also, wonder where that unassuming little fender trim originated?  Some old Cad, probably.  This example (may have been more?) seems to have '51 chrome tail-light moldings; more bling the better on Fordillacs.  Really, sounds like something Dr. Seuss would make up!  Also, I have to wonder what kind of hinges that extended hood must have required; the FoMoCo items were not winners, even at 12 years old, when mine was acquired in '63!  The steel reinforcing that extended thing would have required must have made it weigh sixty pounds, at least!

I know Scotland doesn't take credit for the Jaguar.  My younger bro left a lot of skin on the beautifully enameled black exhaust manifold of his 3.8S Saloon.  Three power-steering boxes later (leaked when brand-new rebuilt from the box!) he sold it.  Credit?   Wick

you might get some answers on the custom car chronicle forum. There seems to be a few guys on there from the early days and some great tales of how it was in the old days, and not the polished rodders journal version

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The car pictured looks like it is on the stock wheelbase, with the interior converted to a two-seater and shifted back.  Lots of work there; it doesn't look like the door openings are the rear ones of a four-door, that would have been easier to do.

Shame about the original engine.  A small-block Chevy is perfectly good, but that car was built with a Cad and should have stayed with one.

A similar car could be done in scale.  Only one convertible body would be needed: just rescribe the door lines and move the cowl back.  The interior might be tougher than the body, with removing the original rear seat.

The original engine looks like a pre-'49 V8.  I'd pluck a V16 out of one of the Jo-Han classic car kits, and maybe throw in that big Miller-like blower from one of the AMT early Sixties Ford pickup kits.

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I finally learned (?) resin casting, and have made a flock of crazy Miller or Novi-like DOHC V-16's.  Not too bad, for basic castings.  I have two 'Miller' phantom conversions in progress, one from Caddie V-16 roadster, and one from R-R Derby roadster.  Mike Lamm, in SPECIAL INTEREST AUTOS Mag back in the early 'seventies did an article on 'classic swaps' into hot rods; some crazy conversions back in the early days!  Lots of torque, cheap to buy in those days, and low-stressed parts, if lousy fuel mileage.

I still rely on the SBC (my son-in-law is an LS advocate!) but yes, the vintage swap would be the most suitable.  The interior; tough!  Wonder if any magazine has ever found in-progress photos of Frick's real creation?  I don't have any pics of his famed 'Studillac' car(s) either; not even sure what year the body was; guess I could Google it?  

Oh, my basic V-16 model for surface-molding was the Hawk 1939 M-B GP racer, which came with a nice but stripped-looking display engine (never made to fit in the model car!) which I bought about 1960.  It had those terrible clear-plastic 'wire' wheels, and was fiddley for a 15-year-old, so I never finished it.  The rear section wound up on a AA/FD from the AMT Double Dragster kit (an inverted Topolino grille from it is going on my Cad/Miller creation) and other parts contributed to some builds; the rest lost.  My other V-16 is scratched from two flathead blocks sectioned together, and styrene; okay but not refined.  Miller engines had a million fasteners, and acres of fins; hard to model.  Thx!  Wick

 

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Steve: okay, I should have read the Customrama stuff first!  The conversions of 1953-up Studebakers was really popular in the late 'fifties, and later; numerous aftermarket sources sold complete conversion kits, especially for the ubiquitous SBC.  It was enough lighter to help the Studes' handling, vs the Caddie swaps.  Mike Lamm explained how twisty/limber the stock frames were, unless (as in the Avanti) one had a convertible X-member, and I don't think that was available until they produced the Lark evolution in a ragtop!  I've found ads for a nearby (Yuba City, CA) Stude dealer who would hop-up the stock 289 V-8 "We make the Hawk fly!"

I loved the Stude Starlight/Starliner, and drew dozens of them with shortened wheelbases, Chevy motors (T-10 4-speed for me, not the adapted Stude box!), and usually tasteless scalloped paint jobs!  I drove a '55 Chevy, then a '51 Ford (well, wore out several!), but never scored the Stude.  In the late 'seventies had a Hawk GT, and really liked it, but it was an automatic -- not for me!  Three pedals, man!  Stude guys are typically pretty sensitive about repowering their babies, but even Stude went to the SBC in the end.  Cheap to keep!  I have a '53-54  4-dr. sedan body that should I have that much 'gas' left in my personal tank (survived C-19, anyhow at age 77) I want to build into a 2-door roadster on a S-10 chassis (shortened), with '82 IROC-Z power -- and T-5 five-speed, of course!  Maybe...   Wick

 

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Studellacs were '53-'54.  Demand dropped to near nil with the '55 restyle.

I've heard the Studebaker club guys don't get too riled with other powerplants, driving the cars is their thing.  The early Cad engine wasn't that much heavier than the Stude mill.  The latter was on the heavy side, especially for its displacement capability.  None of the 304 engines were sold to the public, 289 was about as big as it would easily go.  Studebaker planned for higher compression ratios in the future, not more cubic inches.  Supposedly they had a second generation V8 under development in the early Sixties, but I tend to doubt that.  What they really could have used was a better straight six; the cobbed together OHV conversion wasn't very good.  I've got a '66 Studebaker brochure; the illustrations of the engined (very small with little detail) are still Studebaker engines!  I'm thinking the sixes had intake/exhaust on opposite sides from one another.

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Agree.  But some of the letters/comments in the Studebaker Driver's Club magazine are pretty incensed about eschewing the original V-8 for others!  Lamm's article also pointed out that it is likely that Caddie engineers let their counterparts from South Bend see their design trick bag. Also, that there was the expectation of increasingly higher compression ratios due to advances in anti-knock fuels, which didn't really hold up: "No substitute for cubic inches!"

In 1966, at Shasta Roadsters Drag Strip, Redding CA, I saw a brand new Lark (Daytona?) coupe with a Chevy 396/B-W 4-speed, and this was when BBC's were pretty rare in Chevrolets.  John Geer Chevrolet, local dealer, just got in a BB StingRay, and the word was that his guys ran it for a day and night over the roads to break it in  for a showing on Sunday.  Naturally, it was 'Vette vs. Stude Lark.  The latter had big Caslers or M&H's on deep rims for traction, but when the green went, the Lark driver either broke an axle/hub, or pulled the lugs out of the steel rim.  The Lark made one great big loop around the wheel/tire, which got cocked inside the rear wheel well, and that was that.  Everyone said that it was a real factory experimental from Canada, trying out another non-Stude powerplant.  Maybe; that was the common wisdom that day in the pits.  Never saw the car again!

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To stray off topic just a bit, another idea might be to take the Ford, stretch the hood and move the driving position same as for the Cadillac conversion, then drop in a Lincoln V12.  I'd still go with the early (OHV) Cad V16 though.

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