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Right on Track

 

It doesn’t take much to get Southern Californian, Dave Cook, reminiscing about the ’50s, and a time when the fabled Track T was a regular sight on local race tracks.  “They used to race them here at a track in Huntington Beach back in the 1940s and ’50s,” says Dave, “and, of course, they ran with the sprint cars in the 1950s, and later, at Ascot.”  Sadly, many of those tracks have long since disappeared, but Dave has a very tangible reminder of that bygone era with a beautifully constructed Track T that is a faithful reproduction of the sort of car that played a significant part in America’s oval track racing history.

 


Centerline wheels with knock-offs add visual appeal.  Tyres are 185/70R15 front and 31x10R15 Truck T/As at the rear

 

His Track T was discovered laid up in a barn.  It had been constructed for the Syreng brothers by local metal man and constructor, Dennis Web, and at the time Dave purchased it, was fitted with a full interior.  Web fabricated the chassis, hood, nose and bellypan from aluminium, and added all of those lovely details, such as the distinctive chrome grille, and side and rear nerf bars.  He also added a personal touch for the brothers, with a distinctive “S” in the equally trick front nerf bar. 

 

 

“I bought the car pretty much as it is now,” explains Dave.  “The body is ’glass, but the rest is aluminium, and it was painted in about 1984, using a special, Stan Betz candy paint mix.  The car had a fully trimmed interior then, but all that padding made for a very high driving position.  It felt as if you were sitting on top of the car rather than in it, and it was an uncomfortable sensation.”  He therefore had Dennis rip out the fabric trim and modify the floor pan in order to position the driver and passenger lower down.  Dennis then hand-formed the full, race car-style aluminium panelling that now adorns the interior.  Along the way, he added custom aluminium bucket seats, which were covered in beautifully stitched brown leather. These have minimal padding, also in an effort to keep the occupants low in the T body.  The result is just as Dave had envisaged, and he now feels like a part of the car when he’s out on the open road, rather than divorced from it.  If you take a look at the photos, it’s clear to see what a great job Dennis has done.

 

 

So what’s underneath that beautifully proportioned exterior?  Starting at the front, there are disc brakes, a leaf sprung Superbell tube axle and a Vega steering box.  The motor is fondly referred to by Dave as the “Iron Duke”, a four-cylinder unit that GM built and fitted to Pontiac and Chevrolet models during the late ’70s and early ’80s.  It’s fitted with twin sidedraught Webers, breathes through K&N filters, and is equipped with a custom header and exhaust system.  Other than that, it’s pretty much stock.  The motor is hooked up to a Powerglide 200 transmission, and from there, to a Currie 9-inch rear. 

 

 

More neat touches on the little T are those compact, custom-made headlights, which utilise ’37 Chrysler taillight shells equipped with KC headlight inserts.  The rear lights feature Chevy chrome mouldings fitted with custom internals.

 

So what’s it like on the road, we asked Dave.  “It drives well, and being such a lightweight car, has enough get up and go to keep up comfortably with traffic,” he says.  “It could use a bit more suspension, which is why I run the front tyres at just 7psi and the rears at 11psi, but other than that, it’s a joy.  I use it to go to most Saturday morning car meets at Huntington Beach, and regularly attend other hot rod events in Southern California throughout the year, so the miles are starting to rack up.”

 

 

Story: Andy Kirk & Graham Jones
Photos: Andy Kirk 

 
 
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