Flint started with three Model A Roadster bodies, salvaging the best parts of each one to assemble his ultimate rod. Then he channeled the body over a Model A frame. Flint also built the brackets that held the body to the chassis; made the engine mounts, shock brackets, nerf bars, and fixtures needed to mount the battery, exhaust system and fuel tank. He then adapted hydraulic brakes from a ’46 Ford and fitted a So-Cal dropped and filled front axle. Next, Flint brought the “roller” to Valley Custom for bodywork, while he began building the engine.
Working with Neil Emory, and with counsel from Dean Batchelor, Flint envisioned a wind-cheating track nose that was reminiscent of those on pre-war Indy racecars. Using 18 pieces of welding rod, Emory and Jensen developed a supporting framework, and then they hand-formed the nose out of aluminum. Emory also made the grille out of round aluminum rod. Flint filed it to perfection before it was buffed, and it was clear lacquered to protect the
finish. They also fabricated the shapely three-piece hood and took it to Art Engles,
who punched the louvers from the outside in.
Valley Custom did a great deal of custom bodywork on this car. The seams under the deck lid were filled, the side panels were flared inward, and the rear deck corner reveals were finished to look like those of a ’32 Ford. The panels in the wheel wells had rusted out, so Valley Custom replaced them with new removable panels. The belly pan was made up in five pieces, which could be easily removed to service chassis components.
A ’32 Auburn dash panel was made to fit and inset with an Auburn instrument panel. Original convex-lensed winged Stewart-Warner instruments replaced the original Auburn gauges (made by S&W), and two additional gauges – a fuel pressure gauge and an ammeter – flank the panel. Flint retained the Auburn’s original 100-mph speedometer. He trimmed the fluting off a
’40 Ford wheel, cut down a ’39 floor shift handle for the transmission, fitted with
a 26-tooth close-ratio Zephyr cluster. Floyd Tipton upholstered the interior in
medium brown natural-appearing synthetic leather.
Dick Flint built the engine using a ’40 Mercury Flathead block displacing 286 cubic inches. Internal mods include porting and polishing, a Winfield Super 1A camshaft, Johnson adjustable tappets and three-ring racing pistons. The balanced engine was fitted with Karl Fleischmann ignition, three Stromberg 97 carburetors on an Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold and matching Edelbrock finned 9-to-1 high compression heads. Tubular headers, with discretely hidden lakes plugs, rounded out the externals.
Before disassembling it for plating and paint, Flint ran it at Russetta Timing Association (RTA) and Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) meets in 1951. Upon completion, Flint’s hot rod was initially featured in the November 1951 issue of Hop Up Magazine, and again as a cover car in May 1953. It represented the fledgling NHRA at several shows, and won awards at the Oakland Roadster Show and the third Los Angeles Motorama. It is strongly believed that Flint’s Roadster was depicted on the first NHRA membership badge. In the lower corner of the dash is an SCTA timing tag, attesting to an El Mirage run of 143.54 mph.
The final finish was Federal Truck Red. The car was featured with whitewalls and fake wire
wheel caps on the 1953 HOP UP cover. Dean Batchelor recounts that they temporarily
installed whitewalls on the right side of the car to brighten up the cover shot. The Halibrand Quick Change rear was fitted with 3.27-to-1 gears; relocated Ross steering, with distinctive high-mounted drag link, were later additions.
Dick Flint owned the Roadster until 1961 when he sold it to Duane Kofoed, a member of the LA Roadsters hot rod club. Don Orosco, a hot rodder, collector and vintage racer acquired it some 30 years later. Orosco and his talented crew studied the old car to see what had been done to it over the years and preceded to restore it. They re-engineered the frame and built an entirely new platform for the car, using only construction techniques and materials that were available when Dick Flint originally built it.
The restored Roadster was debuted at the 50th Anniversary Oakland Roadster Show in 1999. It later went through additional updates to insure that it captured the original look when owned by Flint. Tom Sewell redid the interior again to more closely mirror its original treatment.
Dick Flint’s ’29 was one of nine Roadsters present for the second Hot Rod Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2001. At the end of the day, Don Orosco and Dick Flint were happy to receive First Place, along with the Dean Batchelor Memorial Trophy, which was named for one of the men who had worked on this car in 1952.
In 2000, Orosco was invited by the Earl of March to participate in the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, and he enthusiastically blasted his way up the tricky hill climb course that is best known as “Lord March’s Driveway.”
Built at a time when hot rodding was the purest and most American of arts, the Dick Flint Roadster will cross the block on November 21 at the RM Art of the Automobile auction
in New York City.
Photos: Michael Furman.
For more information, please visit http://rmauctions.com/