The Goldcar Story

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Well-known member
Oct 2, 2021
Eureka Springs, AR
The Goldcar Story

All started with my Grandpa, Irvin Jean!

December 23, 1966

It was a sunny but cool day on December 23, 1966 and I turned 15. My Grandfather (Irvin Jean), who was 58 in 1967 and passed 5 short years later. He and my grandmother lived next door. He ran an auto repair shop before we had the parts store and machine shop. Growing up I would go over and “help” him in the shop. He and I discussed building a roadster when I turned 16. My parents started a NAPA auto parts store in 1963, my grandfather ran the machine shop and Dad started a salvage yard a couple of years later.

So on my 15th Birthday I went to grandpa’s and reminded him about building the roadster. I told him I was 15 today and would be driving in another year. He agreed and told me to go down in the pasture and take the body off of the 1958 Plymouth in the salvage yard. It had about 38000 miles on it and we had a clear title to it, which you didn’t always get with a salvaged car. The frame was in great shape and it had torsion bar front suspension, which he preferred over springs. According to history, superior to the competitive spring suspension in its day. He said we will use that for the chassis. Off I go to get the winch truck. We had a early 1950’s 1 ton Dodge with a boom and manual winch for the salvage business. I drove it to grandpa’s and proceeded to load the cutting torch. Upon which, he asked me what I was doing. I informed him I was loading the torch on the winch truck and going down to take the body off. He politely informed me that was not an option for fear of setting the pasture on fire. He went to his tool box and handed me a cold chisel and a big hammer told me, this is all I would need in addition to the wrenches. So off I go. By the end of the day I had the body off and cut the floorboard out with the hammer and chisel. Hooked up the chassis and had it ready to tow to the building next door to the parts store for our project over the next year.

Initially the plan was to have a long hood with big sweeping fenders and have the seats mounted just in front of the rear axel. Something along the lines of a Duisenberg Roadster. We would go through the salvage yard picking pieces from other cars to modify for our needs as well as visit other salvage yards when necessary for parts. I came home from school one afternoon and the frame was sitting on jack stands cut in half. Grandpa decided to change the plan and shorten the wheel base by 2 feet. There was a 2 foot section cut out and he was in the process of welding the frame back together. In addition we cut another 12” off the front, 18” off the rear end and moved the engine and transmission back 6”. The original engine was a 277 cu. inch Plymouth engine. Grandpa had rebuilt a 318 engine for someone and they wanted new pistons installed. There was nothing wrong with their old ones so we bored the 277 cu inch .160 over std. to a 3.91” bore and used the 318 cu. inch pistons. We calculated it to be 301 cu. inch engine. The original transmission was a 3 speed manual transmission with overdrive from a 1956 Plymouth and the original rear ended from the 1958 Plymouth. The radiator and radiator frame were from a 1951 or 1952 Dodge pickup (I can’t remember exactly) that we modified. The only thing we could find that would fit for a fuel tank was from a 1956 Ford Station wagon. The original fuel tank, the supports for the hood and the handle/locking mechanism for the trunk lid were the only part from a Ford we used. The hood supports were from the rear window on the 1956 Ford Station wagon as well as the handle mechanism for the trunk lid. Grandpa hated Fords and refused to use anything else. I’m sure that if we could have found anything else that worked as well we would have used it instead. We had the floor board screwed to the frame and put in a make shift seat so we could get the positioning of the dash, pedals, steering column all the things you never thought about now we’re critical elements to make the whole car come together as one. Once we had it running, we would take test drives down the back roads behind the store as we would make progress on making things fit properly. Once the mechanical part was completed, it was time to decide on the design and fit of how to construct the body.

We decided on using the hood from a 1951 Chevrolet pickup and turn it backwards for the rear body and fill in where necessary with sheet metal. When we took the hood ornament off the hood was in two pieces. So we spread the sides of the hood to align with the frame rails. Once this was in place there was a big V gap in the center where the halves were spread apart. After some discussion we decided to cut out a rectangle and make a small trunk lid for storage. We were looking for something to use for the hood one afternoon. There was nothing of interest at our salvage yard so we went “shopping” at Hinton’s Salvage yard which is where we came across a 1946 straight 8 Buick and decided to use that hood for our project with a few modifications it was the perfect choice. The windshield frame we found on a 1949 InternatIonal Truck from dad’s salvage. It was one that you could turn a handle and the bottom would move out to allow air to come into the cab. We modified this to mount to the hood off of the Buick. After several attempts to find fenders we decided to buy some from a mail order company. I think it was J.C. Whitney. We welded an extension on the fenders and the rear fenders were bolted on with stove bolts about every inch. I can’t remember how many bolts, nuts and washers we used. A Bunch! The bumpers are from a 1948 Dodge. The front one we used on the rear and the rear one we used for the front. The grill we fabricated from strap iron. Our headlights were donated by one of Dad’s customers who restored Model A Fords, Bob Turner. Bob came over one day when we were working on it and asked if we had any head lights for it yet. We said not yet and he handed us a pair of old bullet style headlights and told us if we can use them we could have them. They worked perfect after a little modification to the mounting brackets. I have no idea what they came off of and Bob never said. From my research I’m guessing they are off of a 1933 or 1934 Ford. We used the dash from a 1956 Plymouth. It fit perfectly to the frame we built for the hood to hinge from. The gauges are from a 1958 Dodge I believe along with the speedometer. We removed the radio and modified the dash to use the 1958 Dodge speedometer because it was a little different (no speed indicator needle, it spun and would register the speed showing a red line instead). The seats are from a 1960 Chrysler. The passenger seat is original size and the driver seat has been chopped to fit the space available. We decided it would be a “fair weather” car. So there is no top and no doors. You crawl in and out. My body work skills lacked a lot to be desired so the body was a little rough in places and being 15 I had no budget to have it professionally done. Grandpa said it would look better if we painted it white. I didn’t like white and preferred red. So after a lengthy discussion about color we settled on gold. We painted it GTO TIGER GOLD. It was a paint color for a 1966 Pontiac GTO.
Everything else that wasn’t already chromed was painted black. Therefore the name “Goldcar” was adopted when referring to our project and has remained so ever since.

Attached parade pic was taken in the fall of 1967 during the Homecoming Parade with me and a few of my team mates. Unfortunately, back during these days there were no “camera phones” and few of us had any type of camera other than maybe access to an instant Polaroid which over time degraded-distorted the colors and image. The other is one of the fist pic I remember of the Goldcar when it was finished the first time.
To be continued…


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Thanks! Yes, grandpa knew there would be riders on the fenders so he made sure they would with stand the weight. Now our newer restoration will not allow fender riders!

Finally got around to posting pics of our cooling fan installation. For parades and stop and go traffic, I mounted a puller on the back side of the radiator with a switch to turn on and off as needed. With the addition of these two cooling fans we fixed our over heating issues!
Also, some pics from a recent car show. We’ve been enjoying our ride!

Hopefully, everyone will appreciate our last show. We attended because they had a class for “Best Custom Car”. We thought we would be a shoe in for the class, bringing a “one of a kind” custom car. Instead it went to a gentleman with a ‘69 corvette. We were astounded to say the least. The corvette had some mods but as far as our definition of “custom” it was a far cry…it still looked like a ‘69 vette!! Oh well, we had a blast talking with everyone at the show.


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