Chuck and Ryan's RCR Build


Chama, New Mexico, just south of the Colorado border, is a tiny mountain community that exits today for primarily one reason: it is the home of the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge railroad. The century old steam engines pull passenger cars filled with sight seers on an all day trip through some of the most impressive mountain scenery in the USA. Monday, June 11, 2007, our family was in Chama getting ready to board the train. We may have been 1800 miles away from Detroit, but our GT-40 remained foremost on the minds of my son, Ryan, and me. Although Chama is hours away from a McDonalds or Walmart, it does have good cell phone service, so a call to Fran was in order. The car was nearly ready to be shipped. Time for a third and final road trip to Detroit before shipment, so we made arrangements to meet Fran on Saturday, June 16th. We drove just shy of 4000 miles in nine days. We like to drive.

Fran graciously met with us on Saturday morning despite the fact he was in the midst of moving to his new home. The ten hour drive from our home in Southern Illinois to Detroit was well worth it. The engine was sitting in the chassis. The chassis hardware was in place. The black powder coated chassis looked good. The doors were hung. We came up with a short ‘to do’ list for the coming week. If all goes well, the car will be in our garage within the next week or so.

The engine is a 302 built by T and L Engineering, Stanfield, N.C. Lloyd at T and L affectionately described it as a ‘small’ engine, more accustomed to building monster Nascar engines. But for our purposes, with an Audi transmission, it should be more than adequate. The “Ford Racing” valve covers will be replaced with ‘Guerney Weslake’ covers. The carbs are Weber 44IDF. A cold box and back fire plate is being fabricated by Fran. Our goal is an engine that will be as original looking as reasonably possible.


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Randy V

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
Nice pics Chuck! I posted a message to you on Fran's board also about how to post pictures there..

The engine looks great!!! Apparently you had Fran and the boys hang the doors or you worked very quickly!

I'm curious about what appears to be your lift - Can you tell us more about it?

Ron McCall

CESLAW:Congrats!!!! Welcome to the club!!!What are your plans for the car???

Randy:I think the pictures were taken at RCR.


Lifetime Supporter
Well done, Chuck. From the looks of things (and the build by Bill D 'n son is any indication), Ryan is in for as much fun as you are! We're all looking forward to watching your progress... speaking of which, no more train rides till you're done, kapeesh? :)

Welcome to the family!




We live in Carterville, Illinois, about 60 miles due south of Dean Lampe.

We like to drive, so when this project ends, a car with good road manners for long cruises is our first goal. To that end our power plant is rather modest by current standards, with power in the same range as the original GT 40.

Our second goal is originality. Although attempting to build an exact reproduction is not practical, we want to incorporate styling cues that will create an original impression. For example, a cold box, back fire plate, Weber carbs, and Guerny-Weslake valve covers, will be part of the package. There are lots of other ideas and details rattling around, but how many of those materialize remains to be seen.

The color scheme will be based upon the Essex Wire cars. Not because of any particular interest in Essex Wire, their track record, the drivers, or other historical details associated with Essex Wire, but just because we like white with a red stripe down the middle.

This is our second build project. We completed an Everett Morrison Cobra with a 427 SO in January of this year. Building it was such a thrill, we ordered the RCR the last business day of 2006 to keep us busy for another year. The Cobra has been registered since mid February, now four months, and already 2100 miles are on the clock. Did I mention we like to drive? (Ryan got his driver’s license the same week the Cobra was registered – how is that for coincidence!).

The pictures of the GT were all taken at Fran’s shop. Here are a few more including the Mark IV and the coupe with the Lexus engine. At the risk of alienating GT-40 fans, a couple of pictures of the Cobra are also included.


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If you ever want to do a drive in the cobra up to see me, Ill show you some of the modifications i have done on my car. I think it will be out of paint by the end of the week and the go cart will be running soon. If i can be of any help, just send me a note. Nice Cobra! Here is my last cobra project.
midohio track day.jpg

Bare aluminum is a pain in the arse!
Looking forward to further posts, guys. You DO like to drive.
If the GT40 workmanship stays as good as your build on the Cobra, it will be a righteous beast.

Keep the progress reports and pics flowing.



Dean: thanks for the offer. I will likely take you up on that some time soon. Your Kirkham Cobra is stunning.

John: that Lola is awesome! How do you like those Webers?



Interstate 57 runs from Chicago to the southern tip of Illinois, nearly 400 miles. It is a long and boring drive, passing through endless miles of corn fields. Our home in Carterville is about fifty miles from the southern tip of Illinois. It is a small enough community that we can lay claim to having the only GT for fifty miles. (Dean Lampe is the next closest) and one of only two Cobras. In the last nine days of June we had the opportunity of driving from Carterville to Chicago and back three times for business reasons. All this road time gave us a chance to make the calls to arrange delivery. Fran got us in touch with a private hauler who was most accommodating and in short order the arrangements were made.

Sunday afternoon, July 1, the car was delivered. We spent the next six hours opening boxes and inventorying parts. Ryan and I were like two kids on Christmas morning. Our initial impression is the same as when we saw the car in Detroit a month ago: WOW!

We were surprised to discover polished headers and pipes. The fuel filler caps each have locking caps inside, each with a separate key, but each key marked with an “L” and “R”, a nice touch. We ordered the ‘wings’ which mount on the sides of the fire wall with the clip brackets, and found the clip bracket hardware included. The gauges with their new style graphics look great. The engine pulleys are nicely machined bits. For those waiting to receive their kit, I am attaching a few pics of the parts:







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Good choice for a GT40. Diane and I were in Chama just last week. Very quaint little town.

Keep is posted with yout build.


Alex Hirsbrunner

Lifetime Supporter
Hi Chuck,

You mentioned:

"We ordered the ‘wings’ which mount on the sides of the fire wall with the clip brackets, and found the clip bracket hardware included."

I was wondering what these 'wings' are for?




Cute Fran!

Regarding the 'wings':

Picturess of the original GTs suggest that the fire wall was actually a double panel so that the rear was vertical and nearly flush with the back of the spider. A support brace then extended between the 'wings' beneath the rear window on the fire wall. On early cars a nice oval opening for ventilation was visible on the outer most portion of this panel and the fuel pumps and other hardware were mounted more inboard. At the top of the wing is a bracket which secures to the leading edge of the clip. I wanted to simulate these details, and asked Fran if the 'wings' could be fabricated. He did an excellent job. They are good solid pieces which look good and fit well.

The first GTs ducted air from the front, through the doors, and into the engine compartment through those oval openings on the outer portions of the 'wings.' It quickly became apparent that this ventilation system did not work as intended. In pics of some early cars one can see aluminum plates screwed over the vent openings. My plan is to place a 4" x 8" oval plate in that approximate location, to duplicate that affect, which will also give me access to the space behind the 'wing.' I may locate the MSD ignition box and a few other parts in that space to keep the overall engine compartment as clean as possible.

Please note that second picture of the wing is not in the final position - it is just for illustration.

The camera? An old Cannon power shot with the resolution set low enough to make pasting to this site painless. I almost never use the flash.


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Randy V

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
Good eye Chuck! In all the pictures I've seen of the 40's - I never noticed the double bulkhead!


Despite a hectic work schedule, we have squeezed in a few hours of build time. We spent some time studying the fit of the body and making plans. Then the body panels were all removed and stored away as were the roll bar and fire wall. At this point the dashboard seemed like a good place to start.

A template was made for both right and left panels after giving some though to switch layout. Switch panels were easily fabricated out of aluminum, holes for the switches drilled out with a step drill, and an opening cut in the fiberglass dash to clear the switches.

Lucas switches were selected. Lucas is not known for their quality, and when the switches arrived what we saw confirmed that reputation. Indeed upon opening one of the boxes containing a simple single throw single pole switch, a collection of parts fell out. The switch had fallen apart in the box!

As one studies photos of original GT 40 dash panels it becomes apparent that there is no single proper brand of switch. One could find a prototype to justify the use of most any reasonable switch. But the Lucas switches can be seen in many period photos, so they seemed to be an appropriate choice.

But more significantly, Lucas makes specific switches for specific functions. A dedicated wiper switch, #35927, permits a single switch to operate the wiper in low or high and take advantage of the ‘park’ feature. A dedicated headlight switch, #31788, permits operation of the parking lights in the first position and both the parking and headlights in the second position. The headlight dimmer switch, #34899, is a matching companion to the headlight switch. The turn signal switch, #31743, has an appropriately longer toggle. An assortment of single pole single throw (SPST) switches, #SPB200, will operate the fuel pumps, driving lights and other functions.

The switches were ordered from Finish Line, When the package arrived, we inspected the SPST switches first. Most had loose housings. A well placed pinch with a large pliers tightened them up. The one that came in pieces was reassembled and got an extra pinch. The remaining switches appeared to be in good condition.

Out next task was to check the switches with a volt ohm meter to confirm their electrical integrity. The function of the various terminals was identified and labels attached for ease of wiring after they are installed in the dash panel.

The switches were temporarily placed in the aluminum panel. We had considered leaving the aluminum panel natural, but now expect to paint it matte black, like the original cars. Next project will be cutting out the instrument openings.


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Spent a couple of hours cleaning and polishing the Guerny Weslake valve covers and temporarily put them in place. I like the natural aluminum look - it matches the intake manifold and other engine bits. Ryan prefers a satin black finish with the lettering and fins polished, the more traditional look. We are curious as to any comments or opinions anyone may have: black or natural?

We noticed that one of the exhaust pipes rubs directly against the left valve cover. This will likely require we file a bit on the valve cover to give it a bit of air space. One wonders if paint in this area could be a problem from the heat: another reason to go 'au naturale.'


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