We originally posted this interview back in January, when we were first getting started, and we wanted to re-post this again because this car is just too rad not to give it a second look...
In an automotive enthusiasts life there are a handful of machines that leave an indelible mark on your memory. The classics that have stood the test of time, the Hirohata Merc, the Edelbrock Roadster, The Doane Spencer Coupe, The Watson '50 Chevy, Big John Mazmanian's Willys coupe, etc. In the earlier history of hot rodding and customizing cars there have been a great number of vehicles that take your breath away, but few that are icons. These days, with the temptation of "modern conveniences" it becomes much more difficult to find classic representations of simplicity and the presence that these early vehicles possessed.
You see, almost any half-witted "mechanic" with a box of tools can cram a small-block chevy in an old car and slap a new set of wheels and tires on, spray a flat black paint job and think they have something. Those builds are a dime a dozen. When thinking outside of the box becomes thinking outside of the stratosphere, it is here my friends, where legends are born.
I recall a few years ago milling about the H.A.M.B. and reading references here and there to this Buick-powered Falcon gasser. Being only less than completely consumed with the early 60s era of backyard built drag cars and A/FX cars, I decided to hunt down the build thread and see what the fuss was all about. The first of Scotty's words I read were "I am not of sound mind". Indeed, he was right, for no average person with reason would attempt to shoe-horn a seething, slobbering, blood thirsty beast of an engine into a tiny, unassuming mouse of a car. But to Scotty, and to the rest of us who "get it", it was a match made in heaven, a divine inspiration from the gods of speed.
Before I knew it, the "Strange Bird" had taken its rank, in my opinion at least, with the greats. A modern day living legend, being built before my eyes.
Back to the beginning... enter Scotty Birdsall, proprietor and lead fabricator at Chuckles Garage, a seasoned and reputable builder in his own right. Outside of his shop sits a $200 classified-ad special 1962 Falcon coupe, and inside the shop sits a blown, race-dressed 401 Buick Nailhead without a home. And the rest, as they say my friends, is history.
First the specs:
Builder: Scotty Birdsall/Chuckles Garage
Make: Ford Falcon Futura
Other Body Modifications: Radiused fenders, modified firewall, lightening holes.
Grille/shell: 1963 Ford falcon
Paint Color: Original Wimbledon white with rust oxide primer
Paint Type: Factory/Primer
Custom Graphics: Hand painted lettering
Engine: 1962 Buick "Wildcat" 401 removed from a competition drag boat from the 60's The engine has a wild custom Comp cam, Carillo rods, unknown 10.5:1 pistons, massaged crankshaft, Weiand valve covers, finned valley pan, Nicson front cover/engine mount, high flow valves, mildly ported heads and runs on VP C-16 fuel. Transmission: 1965 Buick SP400 With TH400 HD internals, Coan transbrake, Art Carr torque covertor.
Intake & Fuel: Vintage Littlefield 6-71 Supercharger with a Hilborn 4 port injector on top of a custom made intake. Blower is slightly overdriven, making 15 pounds of boost.
Ignition: MSD Distributor, MSD Boost Timing Master, MSD 6AL Igniton Box
Exhaust: Custom made zoomies
Rear End: 9" Ford with Richmond 3:89 gears and spool.
Suspension Front: Straight axle with parallel leaf springs
Suspension Rear: Custom 66" ladder bars and modified stock springs.
Brakes, Front: Nada.
Brakes, Rear: Stock Ford
Wheels/Size: 15x4 American Racing magnesium spindle mounts up front, and 15x8.5 American slots in the rear.
Tires/Size: Hurst racing Super cushions up front, and 30x10x15 Hurst Cheaters in the rear.
Seats: 1969 Honda N360 Touring buckets. Yes, I said Honda.
Steering Column: Custom column and gauge cluster
Steering Wheel: Vintage Metalflake. It was in the car when I bought it.
Interior Extras: Rollcage, roof mounted switchgear, parachute release
Windows: Factory glass windshield and rear window, red plexiglass side windows.
Scott, give us a little background about yourself and your shop, Chuckles Garage, where you are based, what you do, etc.
My name is Scotty Birdsall, I have been tinkering with cars since I was 14, and have been making a living building them since 2007 at my shop, Chuckles Garage. I would have to say my Dad was the guiding force behind getting me to work with my hands. He was a child during the great depression, and a WW2 veteran. He thought every man should know how to work on his own stuff, and that taking something to a mechanic was a cardinal sin, and a waste of money. I learned everything there was to know about fixing, and hippie rigging stuff that we couldn't afford to fix. This was a great base to build my fabrication skills from. The shop is actually named after him, his name was Charles, and his buddies called him "Chuck" or "Chuckles".
My shop, Chuckles Garage, is located in Santa Rosa Ca. We do everything from traditional hotrods and kustoms, to racecars and custom motorcycles. Traditional Hotrods are our main focus.
Aside from cars, what other interests do you have?Family. I have a rad wife and a 6 month old baby girl and two out of control Boston Terriers. Its pretty cool.
What was the inspiration to build Strange Bird, or was it fate, more of a "hey, I've got this car and I've got this engine, lets put 'em together and see what we get"?
I was very slow during early 2010 at my shop, and I needed something to keep my hands occupied. I had a $200 craigslist beater outside, and a built to the teeth Buick Nailhead with no home. The Strange Bird is the result of my boredom, and overactive imagination. I purchased the car from craigslist in early 2010 for $200. It was a complete car minus the interior. I sold the engine, trim, and other misc. parts for twice what I had paid for it in the first place. It's nice when a car pays YOU $200 to take it.
I built the car to the 1965 NHRA Rule book. I had a great time "interpreting" the rules as someone would have done in that era of drag racing.
I know some of the go-fast goodies on the mill have some interesting race history, can you give us any detail about that?
The 6-71 Blower is from the original "Surfers Paradise" drag car, the engine and all of the rare bits like the Weiand valve covers and the Nicson front cover are from a 60's drag boat. Unfortunately, the engine was bought for such a crazy cheap price, I just loaded it up and left before asking too many questions. That stuff is lost to history.
Have you had a chance to give the 'Bird a full-on quarter mile go? What were your ETs? If you haven't been able to yet, what do you anticipate it to run?
No full passes yet. I ran it at the Eagle Field Drags put on by my pal Rocky, but no time slips. I have no idea what it will run. If I had to guess I'd say that it would surely be traction limited to the 11's. The tires are non-wrinklewall slicks straight from the early 60's.....not alot of bite in them. I may try something different in the future, but E.T.'s weren't my motivation with this car.
I know the 'Bird has garnered quite a bit of attention, what has you experience been from all of this?
Yes! In a little over a year and a half, the Bird has been in 3 full magazine features, and at least as many website features! Its awesome. People love seeing something that looks like it was in a time capsule. The best compliment I have received was an old man asked me "where did you find that one?"
I know the car has been featured in some big shows, videos and magazines, where can folks find more?
The Strange Bird's complete build from start to finish can be seen on the HAMB (build thread 1, 2, and 3) and you can check out Chuckles Garage at: Chuckles Garage Blog and chucklesgarage.com (also Scotty's YouTube channel)
What other cars do you and have you owned in the past, and which has been your favorite?
The Strange Bird is by FAR my favorite. I've owned everything from a 1969 Honda N360s, to a 1927 Ford Model T speedster, to a 2001 BMW M5. I like cars.
Keeping with the theme of the blog, what is your favorite drive to take when you want to get away from the daily grind? Any specifics,what is about that specific drive, what kind of driving music you like, what car/bike/etc you like to take, any preferred company?
My favorite drive is hands down, the 33 mile stretch of curvy road between Willits CA, and Fort Bragg CA. It is probaly the most technical road I have driven. There are hairpins, off camber corners, huge sweepers, s-curves, banked corners, and racetrack like curbing in some spots. I drive it weekly on my way to my place in Fort Bragg. I drive it hard and fast with the stereo off. The M5 was my favorite car over that road.....what an amazing car.
Lastly, anything you'd like to add?
Thanks for giving the Bird some exposure on your site!