The best thing about GHR is talking cars with fellow gear-heads.
For over an hour, Bob Harriman and I talked about drag racing, flatheads, ignition timing, Woodward Avenue, manual steering and getting stopped by cops.
And we talked about Bob’s two great hot rods, starting with his 1967 Fairlane coupe.
Bob took the Fairlane in exchange for work he did on a ‘61 T-Bird. (Ironically for a guy who owns two Fords, Bob says he’s really a Chevy guy.)
The T-Bird took a lot of work – a year and a half Bob said – and during that time, the T-Bird’s owner got injured and was unable to pay Bob for the work he did. The owner offered the Fairlane in exchange, and since Bob has always been a fan of that body style, he accepted.
“It needed some work,” Bob told me, “but now I get a lot of compliments.”
There’s a 289 under the hood, with a Holley 4 barrel carb on an Edelbrock Torker manifold sitting on stock heads. Bob’s cleaned up the heads a bit, but they’re still stock. There’s a healthy Crane cam driving the valves through roller rocker arms. With that cam, and the headers and dual exhaust he’s got, Bob says the 289 sounds like a big block. Bob’s drivetrain has a 4-speed manual turning a Ford 9-inch Positraction rear end.
The previous owner installed a Granada front end with disk brakes on the Fairlane. I was surprised to hear the Granada springs were much stronger than the Fairlane springs, and jacked the front end of the Fairlane sky high. “It looked like a gasser,” Bob recalled. Bob cut two and half coils out of the springs to give it the California forward rake he prefers.”Front down and back up,” in Bob’s words. Standard leaf springs are used in the rear.
Inside Bob replaced the original dashboard with an aluminum insert he’s filled with Autometer gauges. And there’s not much else. Manual steering, manual brakes, no air conditioning, no heater. “I’m an old time hot rodder,” Bob said, “I don’t want convenience. I want to hear the engine.” (For the record, Bob and I agreed we like manual steering, but manual brakes not so much. “You really gotta get on ‘em to stop,” Bob accurately summarized.)
The Fairlane is just about where Bob wants it. It had been drag raced before Bob got it, and the twisting put some small cracks in the white metallic paint just above the rear fenders. Bob’s planning on fixing those, and do a little more work on the seats, but otherwise he’s pretty happy with it, and drives it regularly. I wasn’t surprised to hear him say, “It’s fun to get it out.”
And we talked about Bob’s outrageous 1923 C Cab, the Ghost Rider.
Bob had built himself a really nice 1950 Chevy pick up, and when the previous owner of the C Cab saw a picture of it, he contact Bob to see if he might be interested in trading. A deal was struck and Bob soon became known as the Ghost Rider around town, thanks to the graphics on the side of the Ford. “Sometimes you’re not the one who is known,” he said. “Sometimes it’s the car.”
The 1923 C Cab was built in 1989, and it’s hard to say if the first thing that catches your attention is the dual quad big block Chevy or the beautiful Imron Hugger Orange paint and graphics. There’s no doubt they both really stand out.
The Chevy is a 454 bored out 0.040”, now measuring 462 cubic inches. With dual 600 cfm four barrels on a high rise manifold and Comp cam, Bob estimates it’s putting out close to 600 horsepower. The big block is mated to a Turbo-Hydromatic 350. Bob’s installed shift kits and has reworked the governor weights to improve shifting.
The custom built chassis uses a four-bar suspension, with four coilovers, to locate the Jaguar rear end that has 3.31 gears on a Posi differential. A traditional transverse leaf spring keeps the solid front axle and Harley Davidson wheels in place. A street-legal wheelie bar completes the no nonsense look.
The C Cab is not a daily driver, but it sure gets its fair share of attention. Twice Bob has been pulled over by the police in Alabama – just so they could get a closer look at the Ghost Rider. And it gets a lot of attention at the car shows Bob takes it to, including the Goodguys show in Nashville, and numerous other shows around Alabama. Woodward Avenue is on his to-do list.
Bob’s wife misses the pickup (shown below), but Bob’s pretty happy with the trade.
And we talked about our drag racing exploits. Me with my Duster, he and his friends with a chopped 36 Ford and a Studebaker Lark. (“It could suck up a Corvette,” Bob said about the Lark.)
And we talked about our visits to Don Garlits’ museum (Bob got a personal tour from Big Daddy himself. I did not.) and our memories of seeing Garlits at the drag strip.
And we talked about how Bob does all the work for his cars – and his motorcycle – himself. “And all the work is done in the driveway,” he said.
Just two gear heads talking cars.
All photos courtesy of Bob Harriman
Click here to see the photos of Bob’s hot rods.