Overland Hauler
Australian Street Rodding|November 2020
Kevin Kendall’s country cruiser hot rod...
KEVIN KENDALL
I was bitten by the hot rodding bug back in 1976 at the age of 14, when on a weekend holiday in Castlemaine, Victoria, that just happened to coincide with the Victorian State Rod Run. At the campsite beside us was Graeme Williams’ red T Bucket, cover car from the first ASR magazine, and that really blew me away. Not long after that, my father and I purchased a 1925 Willys Overland ute in pieces with the intention of restoring it to its original condition. We didn’t have any mechanical knowledge, but we were willing to give it a go.

I went to panel beating school at night, while doing a fitter and turner apprenticeship by day. With a bit of help, we managed to restore the vehicle to the best of our ability, and it was roadworthy and registered by the time I was 17. I would have preferred to have built it as a hot rod, but with limited knowledge and skills, it was not possible at the time. I drove it for a few years and during that time, I bought my first hot rod at the age of 21, a 1934 Chev Coupe, that I still own today.

After that the Overland took a back seat in the garage for quite a few years, while I enjoyed driving and building hot rods. I knew I would never sell it, as it was a constant reminder of the excitement and challenges of building my first car.

Fast forward to 2017, and after 34 years of use, my 1934 Chev Coupe was due for a rebuild. This created a problem of not having a hot rod to knock about in. After much thought and consideration, I decided to fulfill my teenage dream to build my Overland into a hot rod but still keep as much of the original work that was done all those years ago.

Panel and paint, (Toyota colour Loire Turquoise) were done by myself, and Dad was doing the woodwork. The interior, consisting of green vinyl, was done on an old treadle sewing machine by an old friend. The signwriting was Dad’s idea and done by a local signwriter in Frankston.

As part of the hot rod build, a decision was made to convert it into a roadster ute. This was because the cab that we originally made was a copy of what a farmer had made, and naturally, as it was a first attempt at this sort of work for us, it was not a very good job, so off came the roof. The tray was a bit box-like so it was narrowed and sides reduced in height. The wooden frame of the body was removed and steeled out. Once the car was stripped, the chassis was jigged up, the original crossmembers were removed, then boxed and a 50x75 RHS X member fitted. Up front a Rod-Tech independent front end went in, all of which was neatly TIG welded.

A future project, a swap meet special ’33 Ford roadster, gave up the XW Falcon nine inch diff, to go onto the original semi-elliptic springs and a 3.5:1 ratio LSD was fitted. The ’33 also donated the already red steel wheels, six-inch front with 185/75 tyres and eight-inch rear with 225/75 15 tyres fitted. For practicality the undercarriage was just painted black Kill Rust enamel.

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