Per Arne Knudsen's 1934 Ford
1934 Ford Convertible owned and built by Viking Custom member Per Arne Knudsen of Oslo, Norway. Per Arne was a founding member of the Norwegian hot rod club Viking Custom, and a brief presentation of Per Arne's project was printed in the first issue of the club newsletter Viking Custom Medlems Katalog og Avis. Per Arne bought the car as a complete, stock car around 1964 - 1965. According to the write-up in the club-newsletter, Per Arne's "American style" hot rod was one of the first hot rods of Norway. By then the body had been mounted on a sand-blastet and black painted 1936 Ford Sedan frame. The doors had been welded shut, and the body had been channeled about 8 inches over the frame. Power came from a 1959 Chevrolet 283 V-8 engine that had been bored to 292 cu. in. The rest of the drivetrain was Ford, but Per Arne had plans for a Chevrolet transmission and an Oldsmobile rear end. The steering was stock. Per Arne had a set of Rader Mag wheels lined up for his hot rod. The interior had been fitted with teak, and it featured round gauges. Further plans included a Kelly Green Metalflake paint job and a black and yellow nappa leather upholstery. The number of horsepowers and the top speed was unknown at the time.
In 1967, Viking Custom was put on ice, and Per Arne and several other members went on to form a new club called Nor-Way Custom. In 1969 the Norwegian Ford dealer magazine Ford Nytt did a featured story on Nor-Way Custom in their Christmas issue. By then Per Arne's Cabriolet had supposedly been approved by the vehicle licensing department. According to the story It didn't pass the first time, and Per Arne had to improve the car a little in order to finally get it through. This was unfortunately not the case. The story featured an interview with Per Arne where he told the readers that his old Ford was powered by a 4.2 liter V-8 engine that was good for about 250 horsepowers. The engine was hooked to a 1937 Ford transmission that he had fit with 1948 Ford gears. The driveshaft was from a 1946 Ford. The front suspension featured split wishbone. That was a must, as it was recommended to use in the book Hot Rod Chassis Construction published by Petersen in 1967. Per Arne decided to scrap the stock grille in favor of a Model A grille. The rear fenders were bobbed, and the front fenders were taken from an air-compresser-trailer. The taillights Per Arne installed on the car was inside stop-lights from a retired city-bus. According to Ford Nytt Nr.4 1969, top speed at the time was 220 km/t. When the story was made, the build had taken about 1 1/2 years, and Per Arne had invested about 8000 NOK in the car.
During the build, the city of Oslo decided to run the new freeway right across the Nor-Way Custom club garage, and the club had to move on a short notice. They found a new garage they could use to work on their cars in, and Per-Arne's '34 was completed shortly after they moved. Once completed, the vehicle licensing department refused to approve Per Arne's hot rod. The year was 1969, and Kalle Brøderud, another member of Nor-Way Custom, remembers the infamous Mr. Neslein of the vehicle licensing department climbing down into Per Arne's 34, taking the car for a spin down Mosseveien in Oslo. As Neslein meant it would be a big provocation against the authorities to show up at the vehicle licensing department with such a radical altered car, he suggested he should come down to Knudsen's garage and take a look at the car instead. When Neslein returned with the '34, he told Per Arne that he would never get Norwegian license plates on the '34. The club held several meetings discussing the case, and some of the members even wanted to hire an attorney and take the vehicle licensing department to court. That never happened, and Per Arne traded the '34 to Ludvig Bjørnstad for a 1956 Chevrolet two-door hardtop in 1970. Ludvig's old Chevrolet was originally powered by an inline six engine. He swapped the inline six for a V-8 engine, but as he couldn't get the new engine to run properly he bought another engine for the car as well. The new engine was a 283, and it was known around town as a "mysterious" engine. It came from the US with a Norwegian-American, and according to rumors it was built by a GM dealership "over there". Ludvig traced the engine, and was able to buy it from the Norwegian-American guy. When he found it, it was stored in a wooden case in a basement. As the drag-racing fever had reached Norway, through Sweden, Ludvig wanted to install the mystical engine in the Chevrolet, and turn the car into a drag racer. Ludvig considered Per Arne's '34 as shortcut to the dragstrip, so he traded the Chevrolet with the worn-out V-8 for Per Arne's '34. Per Arne kept the engine he had originally installed in the '34.
Ludvig started to install the 283 in the '34 the same year. At the time he shared a garage with a Norwegian race car driver called "Knerten" at Torshov in Oslo, and Knerten and his chief-mechanic Atle Bråthen assisted Ludvig during the build. Eight straight pipes were fabricated and installed, so it didn't take many test-runs around Torshov before uncle police paid Ludvig a visit. In order to test the car properly, Ludvig and his cousin Kalle Brøderud took the '34 for a test run down the old airstrip at Gardermoen during the summer of 1971. Knerten's rally-bus was used for transportation. The Ford went great, until they lost one of the rear brake drums.
In May of 1972 Ludvig made his debut run with the '34 at the dragstrip in Mantorp, Sweden. Fred Larsen was also present at the same event, racing his Funny Car Hot Lemon, and the two friends became the first Norwegians ever to compete with cars in an organized drag race. Ludvig raced in the Street Altered class, and he ended up as runner up in his class. Later on the same year, the '34 was featured in the Swedish magazine Start & Speed. According to the story, the engine in Ludvig's '34 had been blueprinted and fitted with 12.5:1 pistons, a 315 degree camshaft, FI cylinder heads and dual Carter 450 carburetors. It was supposedly good for about 392 horsepowers, and Start & Speed named it one of the hottest 283's in Scandinavia at the time. Cal Custom air-scoops and valve covers were used to dress it up. Inside, a Racimex tachometer told Ludvig when to shift gears, while a Moon gas pedal mounted on the driveshaft tunnel was used to feed the monster. Total investments for Ludvig at the time were 11 000 NOK.
In 1973 Ludvig returned to Mantorp, along with three other Norwegian drag racing teams. By then the old '34 had been painted red and a bag of stickers had been spread over the car for a racing appearance. Equipped wit a Saginaw transmission, street tires, and no differential lock, Ludvig did the quarter mile in 12,46 seconds. Unfortunately for Ludvig, the transmission in the car blew up in several bits and pieces during the race. The same year, Ludvig's '34 was featured on the cover of Start & Speed Nr 4 1973. In addition to this the Norwegian men's magazine Vi Menn ran a story on the 34 titled "The Fastest Car of Norway". According to that story Ludvig's 1934 Ford did 400 metres on 12.8 seconds from a standing position. A time better than super cars such as the Ferrari Daytona, the Porsche Carrera, the Aston Martin V8, the De Tomasa Pantera and the Lamborghini Miura at the time. Ludvig told the reporter that he had spent three years building the car.
For the 1974 season, Ludvig decided that he had taken out all of the potential in the '34, and he let it rest while he joined Fred Larsen's team as a mechanic on the Hot Lemon dragster. Ludvig later sold the '34 to Stein Christiansen of Nittedal, Norway. In 1976 Stein made his debut run with the '34. Painted red, the '34 was then named "Lil' Red Rooster". In 1978 Stein raced the '34 at the first Drag Race in Fyresdal, Norway. In 1979 a photo of the car was published in ACCN's annual calendar. This version, named "Burning Love", was painted blue, and it was owned by Anders Lian. Kjell Arne Eide of Bergen bought the car in 1979. Kjell Arne sold it to Nymark and Hetleflaat Dragracing in the mid 1980s. In 1989 the car was damaged in a crash during a dragrace at Gardermoen. In 2014 Per Arne's old '34 was still owned by Jarl Hemnig Hetleflaat of Os, Norway. At the time Jarl was restoring the car.
Magazine Features and Appearances
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