Per Arne Knudsen's 1934 Ford

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An early photo of Per Arne's Convertible taken after he had began to tear it down around 1964-1965. Photo from The Per Arne Knudsen Photo Collection.
A construction photo of Per Arne's Convertible taken at the Viking Custom club garage at Alnabru in Oslo. The garage was located at the property were the city of Oslo parked their retired city-buses. A retired city bus can be seen in the background together with Roar Arnegaard's 1953 Studebaker, a 1946 Ford coupe, one of Per Arne's parts cars, and VW-pick up. Photo from the Per Arne Knudsen Photo Collection.
Another construction photo of Per Arne's '34 taken on the same day as the photo above. Photo from the Per Arne Knudsen Photo Collection.
Per Arne installing a fender from an air-compressor on his 1934 Ford Cabriolet. Notice the cut line on the fender. This photo is taken sometime between 1966 and 1969. Photo courtesy of Per Arne Knudsen.
Per Arne's "American Style" hot rod as it was presented for the members of Viking Custom in the first issue of their club-newsletter Viking Custom Medlems Katalog og Avis. The photo was taken early in the build and not at the time the story was printed. Photo courtesy of Per Arne Knudsen. Scan provided by Jan-Odd Jakobsen.
Per Arne's convertible outside the Nor-Way Custom club garage. When this photo was taken Per Arne had just installed the newly bobbed right rear fender. Photo from The Per Arne Knudsen Photo Collection.
Another photo of Per Arne's '34 outside the Nor-Way Custom club garage. A 1937 Ford cabriolet and a 1946 Ford business coupe, both parts cars, can be seen in the background. Photo courtesy of Gunnar Berg-Kristoffersen.
Per Arne and Jan Erik "Smørbukk" Kvernes with the cabriolet. A Studebaker parts car and an old city bus can be seen in the background. Photo courtesy of Gunnar Berg-Kristoffersen.
A photo showing the engine block mocked up between the frame rails of Per Arne's Ford. The engine was a 1959 Chevrolet 283 V-8 that had been bored to 292 cu. in. Photo by Gunnar Berg-Kristoffersen.
A rare color-under-construction photo of Per Arne's Convertible taken in the late 1960s. This photo seems to have been taken shortly after the engine had been painted green metallic. Photo courtesy from The Per Arne Knudsen Photo Collection.
This photo of Per Arne and the '34 appeared in Ford Nytt nr.4 1969.
Per Arne taking the 34 for a test run before paint in the late 1960s.
Ludvig and his cousin Kalle Brøderud with the '34 during a first test run at Gadermoen in the summer of 1971. Photo courtesy of Kalle Brøderud.
Photo courtesy of Kalle Brøderud.
Photo courtesy of Kalle Brøderud.
Photo courtesy of Kalle Brøderud.
Photo courtesy of Kalle Brøderud.
Ludvig's '34 at the start line during its debut run at Mantorp in 1972.
This photo of Ludvig's "Drag-Hott" appeared in Start & Speed Nr 10 1972. Photo courtesy of Start & Speed Magazine.
Photo courtesy of Start & Speed Magazine.
Photo courtesy of Start & Speed Magazine.
Ludvig behind the steering wheel of the '34.
Ludvig racing the '34 in the Street Altered class at Mantorp in 1973.
Norwegian drag racing pioneers on their way to Mantorp in 1973. Hot Lemon can be seen on the first trailer. Ludvig's '34 is in the middle.
A photo of Ludvig breaking the transmission at Mantorp in 1973. This photo appeared in the magazine Start & Speed.
Ludvig's '34 landed the cover of Start & Speed Nr 4 1973.
In 1973 the Norwegian men's magazineVi Menn ran a story on Ludvig's '34 titled "The Fastet Car of Norway".
Stein Christiansen making his debut run with the Lil' Red Rooster in 1976.
This photo of the "Lil' Red Rooster", taken at the first drag race in Fyresdal in May of 1978, appeared in Amcar No. 1 - 1979. Stein Christiansen still owned the old hot rod, but it was advertised for sale at the event. Photo by Terje G. Aasen and Odd Barbakken, courtesy of Amcar Magazine. Click here to buy this magazine online.
This photo of the Lil' Red Rooster from the first drag race in Fyresdal appeared in Agderposten 6 mai 1978.
The Burning Love version of Per Arne's old hot rod was featured in ACCN's annual calendar in 1979. At the time, the car was owned by Anders Lian. Photo courtesy of American Car Club of Norway.
The '34 while Anders owned it at Mobilia in Trondheim. Photo courtesy of Jan Ludvig Bakken, from the Facebook Group Gamle Bil,Mc bilder fra Trondheim og Midt-Norge.
A photo of the Ford in Bergenshallen in 1979, after Kjell Arne Eide had bought it.
Another photo from Bergenshallen in 1979. Photo courtesy of Kjell Arne Eide.
The "Still Alive" version of Per Arne's old hot rod in the 1980s.
A photo taken during the crash at Gardermoen in 1989. Photo courtesy of Truls Hetleflaat, from Hetleflaat Motorsport.
Photo courtesy of Truls Hetleflaat, from Hetleflaat Motorsport.
Photo courtesy of Truls Hetleflaat, from Hetleflaat Motorsport.
The Ford as it sat after the accident. Photo courtesy of Kjell Arne Eide.

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.[1]


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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[2]


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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[3] 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.[4]


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.[4]


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.[4] 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.[5]


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.[4] Unfortunately for Ludvig, the transmission in the car blew up in several bits and pieces during the race.[6] 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.[7]


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.[8] 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.[9]


Magazine Features and Appearances

Ford Nytt nr.4 1969
Start & Speed Nr 10 1972
Start & Speed Nr 4 1973
Amcar No. 1 - 1979
Amcar Juni 1988

References



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