It’s been around for decades, but Jonesy’s driving the wheels off his ’33 Ford coupe — just what it was built for 30 years ago!
Scotty and the Chief’ — one moniker, comprising four words, that could elicit a knowing nod from drag racers and drag racing fans in the decades leading up to the turn of the century. It’s clearly a name that has earned its respect over the years, but who exactly were Scotty and the Chief?
They’d be Ian Scott and Willie Roach, who were — and still are — rather well known in New Zealand’s drag racing circle for their vivid red Pro Stock–style Pontiac Trans Am with ‘Scotty and the Chief’ emblazoned on the side. A frequent sight at Thunderpark Raceway, that Trans Am would later fall into the hands of locally renowned drag racer Mike Nola, while the early ’90s saw the Scotty and the Chief duo move on to a certain Chev Beretta doorslammer. Over two decades later, that Beretta’s shell is still in the drag racing scene, now a key part of the top doorslammer campaigned by Rod Benjes and John Dillon of the Childs Play racing team.
However, there was a time before these all-out purpose-built drag weapons bearing the ‘Scotty and the Chief’ name — a time known as the early ’80s, when they were hitting the strip in a seriously wild ’33 Ford coupe. That coupe, which, to this day, gets mistaken for Bobby Owens’ ’34 Ford coupe, was featured as a bright and shiny masterpiece on the cover of New Zealand Hot Rod magazine in August 1985. Its remarkably clean appearance belied the totally rotten shell Ian had started with. An ex–stock car, the coupe’s body had essentially been in three main pieces when Ian got it: bulkhead, roof, and rear quarters. Pieced together with miscellaneous parts Ian managed to find, and with little more than time and hard labour — and plenty of both — the beautiful ’33 Ford you see here was born.
All those years ago, the car was powered by a tunnel-rammed and nitrous-equipped 331ci small block Chev and backed by a four-speed manual box, but not much else has changed in the intervening years. The ’33’s still got that vibrant red paint, the same sleek looks yielded by its full-fendered profile, the same roll cage that just screams business, and the same timeless pro-street stance — your final warning that this hot rod is not to be messed with.
It’s not all looks, either, as the ’33 became a frequent sight at Thunderpark Raceway and Champion Dragway (Meremere) during the mid ’80s. As Ian took the coupe down the strip, the drag racing bug bit hard, and he began to modify it further in search of performance, all the while ensuring the car retained street legality. In 1986, he added mini-tubs, a nine-inch diff, rear slicks, and a Muncie four-speed manual box. And although Ian would end up selling the ’33 as a rolling body just a few years later, to fund his big OE to the US, the coupe had already made its mark on the local drag racing scene.
When he sold the ’33 in the late ’80s, it was to Rob Forsyth in Palmerston North. Rob had just collected an insurance payout after his hot rod was T-boned by a driver who'd run a red light, and when the ex–Scotty and the Chief ’33 came up for sale, he knew it was the perfect car into which he could transplant his old motor and box. However, it wouldn’t be long before Rob on sold the car, once again minus engine and transmission. This time around, it ended up back in Whanganui, in the hands of Wayne Brougham, who repowered it with a Ford engine and Toploader gearbox, until he, too, sold the car — yep, as a rolling body once more.
Ending up in the hands of one Peter Street from New Plymouth, the ’33 was subject to yet another re-power, with the engine and transmission from Peter’s Falcon. It’s around here that the connection to the car’s current owner begins, although it’s also a bit of a hibernation period in the hot rod’s eventful history.
The coupe is now owned by Paul Jones, better known as ’Jonesy‘. When his mate Tory MacRae bought the ’33 in the mid ’90s, Jonesy thought it was the coolest thing ever.
“Up until then, we’d never really gotten into hot rods,” Jonesy recalls. “We’d all been into Escorts, Cortinas, Toranas, Falcons, and all that, but then Tory bought this hot rod …” and that was that. Jonesy just had to own the coupe for himself; he told Tory that if he ever wanted to sell it, he’d buy it — 15 years later, that dream would finally become a reality.
When Tory was looking into buying the ’33 off Peter, it was powered by a 302ci equipped with rare Gurney Weslake heads, which would be worth a pretty penny nowadays. However, Tory also had the option of buying it as a rolling body for a fair bit less, so a rolling body it was. Purchasing the hot rod with the four-speed manual box, it wasn’t long before Tory had a single tunnel-rammed 289 in the hole, driving the car in that guise for a year or two before taking it off the road for a full strip-down and rebuild from the chassis up.
With Tory’s father, Ian, operating his own panel-beating shop out of Tauranga airport, that side of things was never going to be a problem. Once the bodywork had been tidied up, the coupe was resprayed in the same bright red that so suits the swoopy lines of these full-fendered hot rods — the same paint that’s on the car to this day, in fact.
However, while the aesthetics would be kept as they were, it was decided that the heartbeat would be all new — Dave Best, at the time working out of his US Auto Centre business, was commissioned to build a blown 357ci Windsor power plant to provide the coupe with the performance it deserved. The 351-based engine was built tough, and it worked to push the coupe to a string of smoky and traction-deficient 11-second quarter-mile passes.
“Tory loved the shit tyres on the back, to smoke them up, but even with good tyres on it for drag racing, the rear end would break loose — the car could have run a 10 with proper tyres,” Jonesy says.
A C6 transmission was bolted to the back of the combo and the obsolete third pedal chucked in the bin, making for a staunch hot rod that was as at home on the street as it was on the strip. However, as the game of life often goes, Tory and his wife, Lauren, ended up purchasing a house not long after the rebuild was completed, and the coupe was adopted by Tory’s parents, Ian and Jenny, to free up some much-needed capital. The coupe would then spend more time sitting in the shed than it would on the road, effectively disappearing from the public’s eye for more than a decade.
By 2012, Ian had begun to work on the coupe with the aim of tidying it up a little. Part of that included upgrading the braking system and the required re-cert. With the blown motor’s ability to produce speed at an alarming rate, Ian felt the need to slow down just as important. The coupe therefore found itself going back under the knife in Ian’s all-too-familiar workshop to have a Wilwood pedal box, front calipers, hubs, and rotors installed. Unfortunately, it was also around this time that Ian and Tory had to make the hard call to put the coupe on the market.
As it was no secret how much Jonesy loved the car, having been on Tory’s case to buy it off him since day dot, he was given first right of refusal. No messing around here — with the blessing of his wife, Lou, Jonesy was finally the proud new owner of the hot rod he’d lusted after for so long! In fact, one of the first things he did as the owner of his dream car was to drive down to Paul ‘Pins’ Sattler’s workshop to get the new cert plate fitted.
With the ’33 driving the way it should, Jonesy was just ready to drive the thing, and that is exactly what he’s been doing over the past four years. It’s not the most practical of cars, but Jonesy will drive it without hesitation to whatever event takes his fancy, and this has been when he began thinking about the next set of improvements.
Despite the coupe’s ground-up rebuild in Ian‘s and Tory’s hands, the interior was beginning to feel a bit dated for Jonesy’s liking, and he decided to call Shaun at Action Canvas and Upholstery. Now, with beautifully finished upholstery throughout the cabin, the car is a comfortable place in which to spend time, although Jonesy does point out that there are still a few things he’d like to fix — such as the square hole in the original carpet, a throwback from the days when a manual shifter would have poked through the floor. He’s not sweating the small stuff, though, spending his time cruising wherever he feels like going.
Jonesy hasn’t drag raced the car, being all too aware of the value of all-steel five-window coupes and the risks involved in putting the hammer down in such a wild machine, but you can’t deny that it would be a sight to see after all these years. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to witness it in the future. For now, though, Jonesy’s more than happy just to pile on the miles behind the wheel of his dream machine.
Paul ‘Jonesy’ Jones
Occupation: Truck driver
Previously owned cars: Ford Escort MkI, Ford Falcon XY GT-HO replica, Holden Torana SL/R 5000 replica, Holden Torana LH V8, Ford Falcon XA V8 coupe, blown V8-powered Ford Falcon XB, Jaguar, two Ford Falcon XC V8s, blown V8-powered Ford Escort MkII, 1964 Chev Impala, Holden Commodore VT SS, blown V8-powered Holden HQ Monaro
Dream car: Lots of them
Why the ’33? I wanted this car ever since my mate bought it 20-odd years ago
Build time: It never stops
Length of ownership: Four years
Jonesy thanks: Ian, Jenny, and Tory MacRae, for selling it to me; my wife, Lou, for letting me buy it; Shaun at Action Canvas and Upholstery; Bruce at Fraser Cove Automotive; Mike at Sonic Race and Machine; Glen from Eze Auto Electrics; and all of my mates who have helped me with it
1933 Ford coupe
Engine: 357ci Ford Windsor V8, 351W cast-iron block, 0.030-inch overbore, polished and shot-peened rods, Speed Pro forged pistons, Childs and Albert moly piston rings, JP roller timing set, custom-ground camshaft, Comp Cams Pro Magnum lifters, Dart heads, double valve springs, Hampton intake manifold, Petersen 8-71 supercharger, two 600cfm Holley vacuum secondary carburettors, Holley electric fuel pump, MSD ignition, tubular steel headers, header caps, alloy radiator, electric fan, high-volume oil pump
Driveline: Ford C6 transmission, Ford nine-inch diff, narrowed diff housing, four-pinion LSD centre, 3.9:1 diff ratio, floating hubs
Suspension: Four-bar front suspension, chromed drop axle, transverse leaf spring, torsion bar rear suspension, custom adjustable rear four-bars
Brakes: Wilwood pedal box, Wilwood front brake hubs, Wilwood front calipers, Wilwood front discs, Ford rear calipers, Ford rear discs
Wheels/Tyres: 15x6-inch and 15x10-inch Steelie Superline alloy wheels, 205/55R15 Bridgestone and 31x16.5R15 Hoosier Pro Street tyres
Exterior: Steel body, 3½-inch roof chop, recessed firewall, fibreglass fenders, fibreglass running boards, ’39 Ford blue-dot tail lights, recessed rear number plate, louvred rear panel
Interior: Custom bench seat, custom door cards, vintage race steering wheel, B&M Pro Ratchet shifter, Smiths gauges, Auto Meter rev counter, five-point roll cage
This article originally appeared in NZV8 magazine isssue No. 137 — to get your hands on a print copy click on the cover below: