from this weeks Hemmings eNEWS
Any hot rodder who’s studied his Montgomery knows the name Bill Burke. Not only was he one of the original hot rodders, but he’s also the guy who spotted a shipment of drop tanks during World War II and decided they’d make excellent streamliner bodies for dry lakes racing, thus giving birth to the bellytanker, an icon of post-war hot rod history.
Unfortunately, he never held on to that first bellytanker he built, and its fate remains unknown. But if everything goes according to plan, another one just like it will appear on the Bonneville salt this summer.
Geoff Hacker, a friend of Bill’s, had recently bought an abandoned bellytanker project in California, and shared with Bill his plans for a generic rear-engine bellytanker build when Bill noted that the P-51 tank, with a 60hp Ford V-8 and sitting on Model A front and rear axles and wire wheels, very closely resembled his original front-engine tank. So Geoff reconfigured his plans to clone Bill’s original tank with Bill’s permission and guidance.
“Even though I didn’t know it at the time, the parts that came with it were pretty much what I needed to replicate Bill’s bellytanker,” Geoff said. “So my intention is to build it as if we went to the same junkyards Bill went to, and with the same parts.”
Geoff recruited two builders, Ted Kempgens and Tom Bambard, and assembled as many pictures of Bill’s original bellytanker as possible for reference.
Presenting the finished product at this year’s Bonneville makes for a tight deadline. “But Bill said that he would have built it quick, and that we needed to do so too,” Geoff said.
Keep an eye on the Hemmings Auto Blog http://blog.hemmings.com
, for photos of the bellytanker build.
- By Daniel Strohl
Keep the shiney side up........
DLRA WebMaster / Editor