Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Paul Gommi's '32

I met Paul last year in Pasadena and shot some pics of his very cool '32. The pics and an edited version of the interview are in issue 7 of Glory Days magazine but the full details are too good to miss out on - so, here is the full unedited version with all the info straight from the horses mouth. Check it out...

"I was a fine arts painter in Greenwich Village, NY. Decided machines were a media of today and built a top fuel dragster. Won 26 meets out of 32 by 1965. Also assembled  road racing Lotus Ford cars for Mike Goth.  Carroll Shelby called and asked me to come to work for him building engines for the Trans-Am Mustangs and the GT 40 Fords for LeMans.  After winning Lemans, Keith Black hired me to develop the 426 Hemi and I built engines for Miss Chrysler Crew, The Hawaiian, Mr Ed Hydro, Super Chief, etc. etc.
  Next Had Gommi Racing Engines making the first fuel injector for Racing Harley Motorcycles, and built engines for everything from hydros, flat bottoms, Top Fuel, Funny Car, Injected Funny CAr, A Gas supercharged, Gassers, Top Alcohol, Road Racing, etc. Ran and drove my own Top Fuel Dragster which was the first successful Rear Engined Dragster on the West Coast. I Set track records at Lions, Irwindale, Orange County, and Seattle.
   In 1974 was approached by Enderle Fuel injection to do a catalog.  Did it and then followed by Keith Black, Ed Pink, Waterman,
Venolia, Russell, Simpson, Lenco,  P.S.I., Rossi, Kosman, Ken Cox. Then went to U.S.C. at night, got a Masters in Marketing and
did the advertising for  Bill Miller,  Competiton Cams (Comp Cams), Venolia, Racing Head Service, Russell Performance, Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS), T.C.I. (Torque Converters Inc) Danekas Blowers, Mert Littlefield Blowers, etc. etc.  Built the "High Energy Coupe" that was a street driven 1933 Ford full fendered street legal coupe that ran 10.20 x 148 MPH in the 1/4 mile featured in Hot Rod MAgazine
and numerous other magazines.
  At night started building cars.  First one I did won Best 33-34 Ford at the Western Nationals.  Second car I did was a restored
1934 Ford Roadster that won the Dearborn Award (Highest scoring car in the Country) and was put on display at the World's Fair in
Vancouver Canada, (now in the Ron Pratt Collection).  Went on a built 8 Dearborn winning cars which are all in Museums or high end collections.
Built several Hot Rods including a Goodguys "Street Rod of the Year", class winners at the Grand National Roadster Show, numerous Concours
d'Elegance events and various Hot Rod Shows. Last week my 1932 Ford Phaeton won "Best in Show" at the Edelbrock Show over 425 cars.
My 1932 Roadster was assembled by 5 G.I.'s in 1947 right after the War. They all threw what parts they had into the car and
went dry lakes racing.  The car was driven by Jack Ewell who went on to become head of Mickey Thompsons  Speed Shop,
the engine was built by Car lJohnson who went on to become Johnson and Mooneyham
and Carl built the famous 554 Coupe. Lokers, Schmit, and the Steckers
were also involved.  The best we know of the car ran 128 MPH. in 1949
   When they quit racing in 1951, they each took their own parts home.
    I knew of the body being at Bill Kemperman's storage building for
years, but had never seen it. I kept making offers to Bill until one day he finally agreed to sell me the car.
 My vision for the car is the same for every car I ever touch.  I look at every single piece and say to myself:
"Can I make an improvement to that part to make it perform better, or even look better?"
That's pretty presumptuous, so I'm very careful not to touch or alter anything I can't improve.
  So, the way my cars look is strictly a result of the changes I made
to improve the performance, or function, or safety, or drivability of the vehicle.
   My roadster has a Top, working windshield wipers, turn signals,  cowl vent, horn,
parking bake, trunk with spare tire and tools, working gas gauge, truck glove box,
water overflow recapturing system made from a WW 2 Army canteen and WW 2 hoses, A Bugatti interior rear view mirror, and a Chrysler Airstream outside rear view mirror. etc
 I spent a couple of years evolving the car into a street drivable car, but only using parts that were available before 1951. There is not a single aftermarket or reproduction part on the car.  The engine is a 1937 21 stud Ford block, (in 1938, Ford went to the 24 stud blocks up to 1951.)
The heads are original 1934 Ford Aluminum heads (WITH THE WATER PUMPS IN THE HEADS) that I milled and plunged the valve pocked for the higher lift cam.
   I designed the cam and Bill Jenks of Potvin ground it before he died.  I used Lincoln valve springs and Johnson lifters,
and old Chevy valves. I did my own 5 angle valve job and undercut the valves for flow.
  I designed my own full flow oil system that pumps the oil out of the oil pan and into a remote airplane filter
and then into  the engine, so all oil is filtered before it enters the engine.
  I used a SCoT supercharger (Supercharger  Company of Turnin, Italy) that was made in the 1940's.I had to design and make all the mounts and drive and generator mounting, AND MAKE EVERYTHING WORK WITH THE WATER PUMPS
IN THE HEADS) I don't think it's ever been done before. I made wood  patterns of everything to see if the belts would work and clear
and have enough are on the pulleys.  Well, it all works great.
  The fuel pump is a double diaphragm 1932 Blackstone school bus pump. Ignition is an old Mallory dual point I modified and it uses special condensers and coil.
  The car features a very rare Pines Winterfront whose vanes open and close depending on the temperature. (they didn't invent thermostats
till 1934.)
  The headlights are Ultra Rare Electrolines built to replace the old BULB headlights on fire engines in 1939 when sealed beams were invented.
  The brakes are REAL 1939 Lincolns and have a very deep backing plate so the front wheels ware actually in their stock location as they were in 1932.  The reproduction 1939 Lincoln brakes on the market are actually copies of 1940 Lincoln brakes which
are shallower like a 1940 Ford brake. (the manufacturers got it wrong).
    The Wheels on my car are called "High Clearance Wheels" that were offered by all the manufacturers to raise cars up for deeply rutted rural roads.  The Ford wheels, often called "Divco" wheels were never on
Divco Miilk Trucks,  You went down to your Ford dealer and bought them to raise your car up.  The wheels on my roadster  were fromthe Chrysler dealers.  They are 20" on the rear and 18" on the front.
Since my car has an original 1932 rear end, the highest gear ratioyou could get was 3.54. The only way you can go down the highway at a reasonable RPM is with a 7:00x20" tire which is 34" tall and allows me to go 75 MPH at 2,400 RPM.
  The transmission is 1939 Ford and the rear brakes are also 39 lincoln. Tailights are 1935 Chrysler Airstream. The dash board includes a 1932 Chrysler cluster and an old clock I found and a real Jones mechanical tach in the dash that won't work with the double belt blower pulley on the car now, so I have a 1940's Sun Tach and there is still an old hand pressure pump in the dash and a matching fuel pressure gauge that I hooked up and it works great.  I also
have a Boost gauge from a WW 2 Fighter Plane to monitor the blower boost (6 lbs.)
 I chopped the original top Bows and all the fasteners came from the Old Long Beach Ford Plant and the material came from searching old Upholstery supply warehouses. The rerar window is an original 1933 Ford Roadster with
original dated glass.  The seat material came from the same searching on original 32  springs and wood. There you have most of it.   Regards, Paul Gommi"