Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm there! 2011 Crosley Club Meet in Wauseon: Part 1

After drooling on the Fibersport in the dark for a while I decided I'd better get my camp set up.  I figured out where the bathrooms were and then set my tent up close enough that they would only be a short walk but far enough that I wouldn't be hearing flushing all night long.  It was almost midnite by the time I'd gotten myself situated but I set my alarm for 6:30 anyway.  I didn't need to bother - I was awake well before the alarm went off.

There are a lot of things you don't ever think you'll wake up to, and this was one of them.  I zipped open my tent flap and this stars and stripes special was parked directly across from me.  Even half asleep I recognized it immediately - it was the kooky Ebay Crosley I'd written about back in March.  Believe it or not, it looked even wackier in person than in photos - and the new flag decal 'wrap' didn't make it any easier on the eyes.
If the car was bizarre, the tow vehicle was almost as far out.  Jak Phillips is a well known character in the Crosley world- he's got a pile of cars and specializes in oddball customs.  At other meets he's shown up with a radically shortened Crosley called 'lil Phoot' and an offroading 4 wheel drive Crosley pickup with tires taller than a standard Crosley's roof.  He used to write a lot for the club newsletter, replacing all 'f's with 'ph.'  If I'm a Crosley Kook, I don't even know what Jak is.
Parked across from Jak's van was this rusty pile of rubble.  About half the car has rotted away, and the half that's left is busy trying to return to the earth.  There are yellow notes painted all over the car, and a peek at the serial number tag on the firewall is a shocker.
This is HotShot #1.  This was the prototype, and even with the damage you can still see where the engineers used it to figure out details like where to drill the holes for the turn signals.  Crosley collector Paul Gorrell found it outside Cincinnatti, half submerged in a stream and partially buried under a collapsed brick wall.  His view is that there is so much gone that if it was restored it would no longer be Hotshot #1, so there it sits.  Believe it or not there's an engine in the bay - and it runs!
I made my way over to the swap meet area and immediately ran into Mike Bainter and Rick Alexander, friends from the West Coast Club.  They are both hardcore Crosley fanatics, so no surprise that they'd roll into the meet before 7AM.  Rick promptly scored a Nardi dual carb air cleaner cover for a Crosley motor- something so rare I've not only never seen one, I've never even heard of one.
I picked up pair of new-in-the-box foglights for a Crosley and a good used Crosley front badge for my 1951 Super Sport- I never got the one that was supposed to come with the car.  I also loaded up on 30 copies of the Crosley Quarterly club magazine that I didn't have.  I ogled, but didn't buy, an aluminum pan for a Crosley race engine- I've only seen this particular design in pictures of Italian race motors like Bandinis.  It was beautiful, but just out of my price range.
Mike, Rick and I did a quick zip around the swap and then I helped them get their stuff out for sale.  Mike had a bunch of extra parts that he wanted to move along and Rick had brought a box of original Crosley literature and old magazines.  Mike's biggest piece was a running CoBra tin block engine assembly, complete on a display stand.  It looked really nice but it did leak a bit.  He sold it quickly and then we had to move it all the way across the fairgrounds, sideways on a handtruck.  I'll go on record here as saying that this was not the best idea ever, but we did manage to get it across the fairgrounds and on the buyer's trailer without dropping it.
Right across from Mike and Rick's spot was a guy selling a VC frame and running gear featuring an Italmeccanica supercharger and matching cam cover.  The cam cover is important since the supercharger blocks the space where the fuel pump would usually bolt up on the passenger side of the block - the cam cover has a space where the fuel pump can be relocated.
The seller turned out to be Alton Doby, a longtime club member who is probably best known as the former owner of the Dutch Darrin Crosley.  I didn't buy the supercharged chassis, but I did pick up the early square-style Braje cam cover he was also selling.
Speaking of superchargers, the Italmeccanica wasn't the only one on hand.  During a later pass of the swap meet I saw a nice Pepco, which, according to Barry Seel, is better on a Crosley than the Italmeccanica.
I saw over a dozen motors for sale, ranging from hopped up boat motors, like this mystery motor Chuck Koehler brought, to stock tin blocks, to rusty parts CIBAs.
As soon as I could steal Chuck away from his swap meet stuff he came over and gave me a tour of his new car - the Fibersport he'd bought a few months ago.  He'd posted news of his find on the Crosley Gang site and I immediately recognized the car as the ex-Terry Matheny racer that I've been trying to track down for the last year.
In researching my own mystery Hmod I'd discovered that a similar car had been restored and raced by a northern California hmod racer named Terry Matheny in the 1980s. He'd sold the car over 30 years ago but his widow had been kind enough to make copies of several photos she had of the car.  I had been trying to find the car ever since but had hit a brick wall after one mention that it had raced at Lime Rock in 1991.  Turns out the motor had blown at that race and it had been sitting ever since.
When Chuck found the car it was incredibly complete- down to the handmade Fibersport hood badge.  I'd sent him the pictures and info that I'd gotten from Ms. Matheny and he sent me a bunch of photos he took of the car as it sat.  This is the closest match to my car that may exist, so I was DYING to know more - Chuck said he'd try to bring the Fibersport to Wauseon, but he wasn't sure he'd have time.   I didn't know if he'd brought it until Barry Seel pointed it out in the dark.
Chuck opened the car up and showed me every detail he could think of.  Following builder John Mays' style, the car is liberally drilled with holes - not only are the drums and backing plates heavily perforated, even the aluminum wheel spacers are swiss-cheesed!  I must have spent a LOT of time with this car - probably a 25% of the pictures I took at the meet are of Chuck's Fibersport.
After I had thoroughly inspected the Fibersport I took a few more runs around the meet. Even though Saturday would be the big event, there were a lot of cars already there by Friday.  The show field was starting to fill up, especially with Hot Shots and Super Sports, the VCs being the 'featured' model of this year's show.
 One of the coolest roadsters, a patina-ed Super Sport, belonged to sheet metal guru Tim Freshley.  I'd met Tim briefly when he showed up at the West Coast meet in 2006, so he felt like a long-lost friend in this Midwest world of strangers!
Though the car appears to be all original, the motor is anything but.  In the early sixties, Tim had visited a friend in San Diego who worked for Crofton.  As he was leaving, his friend gave him a unique gift - a brand new, high compression Crofton block!  Tim had held onto the block for 40 years, finally building it into a complete motor only a few years ago.  These days it provides neck-snapping performance in the SS.  "Has anybody given you a ride in a Crosley yet?" he said.
To be continued...


Michael A. Banks said...

Wow--looks like a lot of work! (Posting the photos from the meet--not to mention the work on the cars and trucks.) Love the van. Looks like it might be a 1:1 pickup truck on the side. I'll add links to here--"Crosleykook," great name!"

Ol' Man Foster said...

Hey Mike- thanks for the comment.. for those of you who aren't familiar, Mike is one of the authors of the recent book on Lewis and Powell Crosley. I read it not that long ago and learned a LOT.

'Crosleykook' has been my ebay handle for the past decade or so... it went into wider circulation when my wife used it as the title of her short film about Crosleys:

saponetta said...

I have a Bansini cars. I looking for Oil pan of BANDINI、and I found this site!! If you possible, could you tell
me about where I can purchase it?

Ol' Man Foster said...

Hi Saponetta - I don't have the pan pictured here... you might try contacting crosley engine specialist Barry Seel... his info is here: