Nailhead Powered Track Roadster On Bring A Trailer

Many individuals have been fortunate enough to someday meet their heroes. For a very limited few with the means, they MAY even be able to own them!

Such is the case with this awesome-looking, little 1933 Track Roadster. Conceived within the mind of car designer Eric Brockmeyer, and built by The Roadster Shop in Mundelein, Illinois between 2007 and 2010, this little track-style star made the circuit once completed and had its share of life in the spotlight. The car was featured in several magazines as well as appearing on the coveted cover of Street Rodder. One look at the car and their reasoning becomes obvious.

The car emulates an early, track- or lakes-style racer beautifully. The fact you can’t see many of the modern upgrades it wears only adds to the vintage vibe.

Building a car with such race-inspired elements takes a bit of effort, joining all those tasty bits with modern components which don’t detract from the theme is only accomplished with a great amount of skill. As you can see, this car does that with ease, a testament to The Roadster Shop’s craftsmen. At first look, you would never expect to find such modern accouterments as disc brakes, a five-speed trans, multiple cooling fans, EFI, and coilover shocks, but they are there, adding to the car’s ability to not only woo the masses but give them a thrill as well. All the stuff that adds to the drive is easily hidden under that Speed33 body from American Speed Company.

Tucking so much value under a tiny, fenderless body took a bunch of work by the TRS crew, but they also found the time to treat each surface to a fresh coating of vintage vibe in the process. Case in point, the stance is set to epitomize hot rodding’s heyday, when men and machine dueled out against the demons of speed at places like Muroc, El Mirage, and Bonneville.

The suspension features a solid front axle with a Winters quick-change aft. Both are kept true with radius rods, and a transverse spring in the front, Panhard rod in the rear.

Back in the day, any land-speed racer would have given his favorite spanner wrench to have modern touches such as disc brakes and coilover shocks, but they weren’t available then, and they needn’t appear front and center on a car designed as a tribute to the era. Up front, this car still uses a transverse spring with inboard-mounted shocks to hold the ’37 Ford front axle in place. There are ’40 Ford spindles with finned and vented drums behind each wheel, while a complete set of Wilwood disc brakes reside quietly but efficiently inside.

Out back, a Winters quick-change rear keeps its arc thanks to a pair of 36-inch ladder bars and QA1 coilover shocks. A set of tall-in-back and thin-in-front Halibrands are wrapped in Michelin and Firestone rubber and give the car that timeless hot rod stance, which works out well since heat rises, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

First, let’s look at the front of the car since there is so much coolness going on up there. The hood and front of the car jut down abruptly, and you may wonder how an engine of any consequence could find the room to exist. Pop the hood and you’ll be amazed at how much room is there for the coolness to reside. Rather than go the typical small-block Bowtie route, the builders of this fine ride chose to stay close to rodding’s roots, instead, implementing a Hilborn-injected, 432ci Buick Nailhead V8. In just the same level of “New vs. Old” sleight of hand, the engine’s injection system has a massive helping of old-school vibe but brings modern-day value by using electronic fuel injection, driven by a BigStuff 3 ECU. Just behind the mill, sits a Tremec five-speed transmission which encourages rowing your own gears while sipping fuel on the highway.

The Nailhead Buick is unquestionably vintage enough for this ride. The electronic Hilborn injection just brings that coolness into a modern age.

Just beyond the horizon of those tiny, dual windscreens, you’ll find an interior full of detail touches, but few unnecessary creature comforts. When you consider that bomber-style seats were good enough to win a war, these custom-built and updated versions seem quite adequate for a dry-lake vibe. The custom, bomber-style bench seat is trimmed in brown leather with matching side and door panels by California-upholsterer, Tom Sewell. Right below them resides all the switches usually found on a lesser car’s dash.

There's plenty to see and do inside the cockpit, while nestled in that custom bomber-style seat.

The spartan-but-sporty theme carries over to the dash itself, featuring period-correct gauges and a four-spoke steering wheel that was treated to a re-skin as well. What hasn’t been covered are the other interior panels. There is enough tin surface showing to keep that “interiors don’t make a car faster!” theme, but enough soft goods to allow for driving the car. Those custom, and inset floor mats are just the right blend of racy-race and someplace to rest your foot on long drives.

The switches are stored under the seat to keep the dash free of barbs, and all-business.

Now, about that heat! If you’re gonna wear a track-style nose on the front of your ride (especially one with NO opening), you’re surely going to have to give some thought to how to keep that Nailhead (or ANY engine), from losing its cool. Take a peek in the trunk and you can see how this is done here. Many enthusiasts will punch louvers in the trunk lids of their rides mainly for the appearance more than the cooling. But, in this car’s case, the path out through the rear lid is necessary. Under that hinder-hood, you’ll be greeted with a pair of electric fans, snuggled up to the Nailhead’s cool-keeping friend. I mean, does keeping your radiator in the trunk limit what you can haul? Sure, it does! But when the main feature of your interior is bare metal, we’d bet you’ve got other plans than where to put the lawn chairs and croquet set.

The rear of the car gives you a clear view of that beefy quick-change rear, as well as the cooling stack for that Nailhead, situated in the trunk area.

That’s what makes this track-styled roadster cool, and why it stole the hearts and minds of judges and enthusiasts alike. So far as vintage hot rodding is concerned, it checks all the boxes completely. And while it may appear to be a “strip-it-and-rip-it” type of ride, it also factors in many components to ensure the ride is MUCH longer than to the other end of the lakebed. It just doesn’t make a habit of highlighting them.

You may remember the car when it wore big headlights and a one-piece windshield. This is how it was featured in many magazines after its completion in 2010.

We recently came across this cool ride on Bring A Trailer with three days to go on the online auction site. While that may not be enough time for many of us to move around enough funds to have a snowball’s chance of winning the bidding, it does allow us to tune in to the auction for the most exciting end of the listing. Bidding currently stands at $30K, which we think is a STEAL for this car. Will it go up? Surely! But we’ll be watching to see exactly how far by the end of this weekend!

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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