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1940 Ford 

Small Block Chev Powered

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At the beginning...

the aussie desert pickup 

as published in Australian Street Rodding 161 April 2003

story - Knackers - 0413 341 501

This superb 1940 Ford street rod pickup was built and owned by Norm Hardinge, a man who has made such an impact on the rod scene over the years. Norm recently received an award form the ASRF in recognition of all his input to the hobby. He was genuinely surprised, as Norm is a humble gentleman who doesn't seek any attention. His Aussie Desert Cooler radiator business, situated in Preston, Victoria, produces many a quality radiator for a wide range of special vehicles, not just rods, but everything from Bentleys to street machines and beyond.

Norm is no Johnny come lately, he really has been into the scene since his juvenile days, regrets nothing, but has gathered heaps of knowledge and wisdom along the way and is greatly respected by the rodding community. Norm campaigned a big block Ford powered '34 roadster in the salt racing format where his persistence has paid off with a mind shattering 184 mph pass on Lake Gairdner. And he says there is better still to come. This speed is already of world standing in its class.

Norm's other passion of recent times is this wild, but very much a street rod, 1940 Ford pick up. It displays many fabricated additions but retains basic practicability for regular street use. The time frame for the project extended to just over five years.

Starting with an American Ford cabin, Norm added a pair of Rodz North front guards and later a '39 Mercury grille was added. The power plant was a smart investment, it's a Goodwrench motor, guaranteed to produce 350 HP, straight from the crate. The only changes that were made to the small block Chevy, was the carby, replaced with a 780 Holley. Electronic ignition also made good sense.

The front end is from a HK Holden with shortened A arms, P76 disc brakes and a set of Center Line Warrior rims. The gearbox is a Top Loader four speed fitted with a very tall gearstick from an A Model. Norm finds no problems with it while driving and the character on top adds to the entertainment. The power is transferred to the final part of the drive train, a Ford Granada rear end. Exhausts exit from under the running boards on each side in front of the rear tyres. Highly polished wood lines the bed floor and it was fabricated in Norm's workshop too. A polished fuel tank looks comfortable in the bed, but in reality it's a battery box, made by Waddington's in Castlemaine. That high rear wing has a history of its own, originally coming from Rod Hadfield's salt Shaker. The visual impact is more than worth the effort.

Interior trim was stitched by Gavin Hill of Bendigo Trim. Custom additions inside the cabin include a '56 Chevy dash, XT Falcon steering column with a cut down '39 Ford steering wheel and XE Falcon pedals. Power windows came from an EA Falcon. The V8 emblem in the radiator tank was hand beaten by Tom Peach, a master in sheet metal work. It really is an example of quality workmanship. Other additions are the Ford taillights and the '55 Cadillac bumperettes.

The final duty was to paint this wild ride. Marty Everitt got the nod and Norm is more than excited about the end result. He loves this rod and is extremely grateful to the people who helped him out. In recognition of that fact he would like to say many tanks to Bob Kelly, Darren Milburn, Mark Pelligrino, Russell Spark, Rod Hadfield and Marty Everitt, for their contribution to the project. Now the pickup is seeing plenty of tarmac.      ... Knackers


An update From Norm

I'm not that humble, I've been married twice so I definitely have regrets and the Salt car (2006) now does 195.5 mph.

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Grafting HK Frontend to Chassis 

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5 years later

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Best Display Vict. Hot Rod Show

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The Bonnet

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On the drag strip

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Nearly Finished.

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Maiden Voyage

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Cool at any angle.


Last modified: June 08, 2006