Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chuck Klein's Hot Rod Almquist Crosley

Ed Almquist has a long and storied history as a Hot Rod speed equipment pioneer, and the story of his foray into fiberglass sports car bodies has recently been explored in some depth.  Though the story of the Almquist company is becoming better known, the stories of the dreamers and schemers who built themselves an Almquist have gone largely untold.

Author Chuck Klein was one such dreamer.  Like nearly every teenage boy in 1957, Klein longed for his very own hot rod; unlike most, he actually got his wish - a genuine racing machine.

"[For] my fifteenth birthday, my father bought me a car..." he wrote.  It was, he says "a l952 Crosley two door sedan with its tiny four cylinder engine that barely ran..."  It was a car, but to a kid with a hot rod heart, just barely.  But what the Crosley lacked in automotive 'oomph,' Klein made up for with his imagination. "The dream being to convert this slow, top heavy, unattractive little old lady's car into a screaming, low slung sports car."

In short order Klein had yanked the stock sedan body and sent $295 off to Almquist for the low slung fiberglass roadster body of his dreams.  When the body pieces arrived - with no instructions, natch - he realized that his Crosley chassis was going to need some changes.

"For the finished car to look right and handle correctly, the frame would have to be Z'd and C'd and the engine would have to be moved back and down, alterations I had only read about in hot rod magazines. A quick check of the body to frame/engine alignment made it clear the engine would not be in the center of the hood opening and the car would have a very high center of gravity if mounted to the stock frame. Definitely not the low slung sports car I imagined it should resemble."

I'll stop there, and it won't spoil the story if I say that Klein completed his alterations and had the finished car on the road in short order  - prematurely, you might even say.  Klein tells the whole story better than I could, and I encourage you to check it out at his website, here.    Great stuff, and a fun read for the bench racer in all of us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ihad a sabra back inthe 70's. Twin side draft S.U.'s, Morrnis minor clutch and 13th Vega wheels. Body was thin tho and not much integral support. Crosley frame was a CD and was Z'd to get the low look. That was all done b4 I got it tho. Twas nevr painted tho,so I did that and took itto Wauseon. Had sdisc brks. Looked good but terrible ride.