Roughly a year into the restoration, I got encouragement from Clint Thorgeirson, the son of the original builder. He had seen a page about the car on the internet and sent me an email. Clint explained he was born after his dad lost the Special at the tavern, and later remarried. He had heard about the car, but had never seen it.
We exchanged emails. I sent him update photos of progress that he printed to show to his father, who was enthused about someone finding and saving his creation.
Slowly, the car came together. Almost every metal part took its turn in a small sand blast cabinet, which leaked so badly it covered the entire shop with a layer of fine dust.
One of the biggest challenges was fabricating the adapter plate to turn the transmission upside down, and then finding a way to make axle shafts work with the new chassis.
Thorgeirson said he originally used shortened driveshafts from a pair of British taxis he found in the wrecking yard. The fact he couldnít remember exactly what they were from probably didnít mean much 40 years later.
All the fiberglass needed extensive reworking. The rear had been split and pieces were missing. That meant bracing the existing piece with metal and creating fiberglass patches to fill in the gaps.
At the front, the original fender flares had been cut away and aluminum eyebrows added to cover the oversize tires that were added during the three decades the car was underground. I used thin aluminum plates, spray foam, racers tape and body filler to build new flares in place, made a mold from them, cast the replacement fenders and blended them into the front piece.
Thatís about when my wife looked at my handiwork, announced that they each looked quite good...but followed her praise by asking if there was a reason they arenít the same on both sides.
Three tries later, I was still no closer to having them right. Thatís when I bought a pair of flares off the internet, cut them about an inch wide, mounted them on the nose, and began filling the space in between the two pieces.
The beauty of working with a modified is that in the 1960s, there were few rules governing the class and so far, weíve not been able to find photos of the car with its bodywork in place. At that juncture, you do what looks--and feels--right.
The bodywork was just one of many hard decisions to make on a project like this. It is easy to become torn between keeping it just as it was, or making it better.
The shocks with muffler clamps holding the springs were replaced with conventional coilovers. They were available in the 1960s, and Thorgeirson said he would have used them if he had had the budget. And by todayís standards, the welded up Monroes simply look scary.
Same goes for the engine. The 600 was upgraded to an 850, mostly because sthey are far more plentiful, and because Thorgeirson said that was his eventual plan. Rubber brake lines are now steel braided...simply because it is a good idea. And the one-inch, thin wall roll hoop that bolted through the floor and was supported with a single brace bolted to a rear chassis tube is now an SCCA-legal bar with proper bracing.