TThey are a small but dedicated group of custodians of Australia’s hot car heritage, passionate about keeping six decades worth of our local hot rod, street machine, panel van and drag racing history alive. Brisbane’s Dan Kubler is one of them, a guy who definitely has his finger on the pulse when it comes to the importance of preserving classic buildings from the past.
This article was first published in the February 2020 issue. Street Machine
Shortly after drag racing stalwart and Summer Nets legend Milton ‘Multi’ Ade passed away in 2010, Dan learned that a friend had the remains of Multi’s old Superstock ‘Hockey’ Pinto in his backyard. His love of nostalgia — along with a nudge from his dad Ashley, who tells him he absolutely needs to restore the car — is all Dean needs to seal the deal.
Milton Adey and ‘Hawkeye’ Pinto competed regularly in the SS/A class at both Surfers and Castlereagh in the 1980s. Milton gave back to the sport through his work for ANDRA and the development of safety tech inspection processes
“The Pinto arrived in Australia in the late 70s or early 80s as a tired USA race car,” explains Dean. “Milton had been campaigning his famous Hawkeye 105E Anglia for several years by this stage, initially a four-cylinder street car before converting it to a 302-horsepower, roof-slit, competition-only racer. As.”
The original centerline auto drags were sourced to keep the visual restoration on point, while the Ford Snow White paint and graphics were expertly recreated by Dan from accurate photos and areas of the original paint scheme that he was discovered during construction.
Milton was looking to step up his game in the drag racing ranks and had begun work on a dragster chassis when he learned of a Pinto being impounded near his hometown of Brisbane. Both the Anglia and the dragster were sold to fund this new purchase, and a new Hawkeye build began.
Ford’s Pinto’s compact size and sleek looks made it a popular choice for both Yankee street machines and drag racers to jam full of V8 goodness. I mean, who didn’t have a Green Hot Wheels ‘Poison Pinto’ wagon as a kid?
After a two-year conversion, the Pinto hit the stripes at Surfers and Castlereagh in the 1980s, besting a 10.22 in the SS/A class. Unfortunately, Milton’s tow car, a borrowed trailer and, sadly, the hockey pinto were involved in an accident en route to the race at the last Surfers’ meeting.
The wreckage was eventually sold and the driveline was transplanted to various cars over the years, while the roller floated from owner to owner, many of whom tried to revive the building and return it to its former glory. Tried to bring it back to glory. But all this was of no avail.
“It’s fair to say the car was in pretty bad shape when I got it.” Dean says. “The Pinto was intended to be a relatively simple build, so I put my XL Falcon ute gasser project on hold and got busy. We stripped what was left of the car, but sandblasting revealed a heap of pain ahead.
By this stage, Dan had started researching the history of the car and people came out of the woodwork providing photos and information about both the Milton and the Pinto. After scrubbing off five layers of hideous paint schemes, Dan saw what remained of the original white paint with blue, red and yellow stripes, along with hockey graphics on the doors. It was an important moment; Dean knew he was the keeper of a very special car with some real drag racing history, and it had to be presented the way Milton did.
Work began in earnest, with Dan and good mate Nick Baines spending many hours repairing and straightening the chassis and roll cage assembly, before coating it in a fresh coat of original multi-spec blue.
The forged front A-arm suspension was refitted and mated to the rear strut, with both assemblies emerging from the coil-over shocks. A factory nine-inch housing was shortened enough to fit within the compact confines, while the original Pinto manual steering rack was retained, with a Dean-made steering column and a period ‘500’ wheel. .
The original 351-cube Cleveland Dank was built by Geoff England and pushed the Multi and Hawkeye to a best speed of 10.22 seconds in the SS/A. Dan has retained the 351 power, but has made some internal changes from the original spec to up the ante a bit. “One of the hardest time items to find was the gold Moroso valve covers,” says Dan. “Those are the only parts we figured out years ago.”
A 351 cu in was the donkey of choice during the heyday of the Cleveland Pinto, so Dean contacted Milton’s original engine builder, Geoff England, to pick his brain on a suitable replacement that would have the right nostalgic appeal. Balance enough horsepower with
The battery and fuel cell sit neatly between the massive wheel tubs, making the best use of what’s left of the Pinto’s boot space.
An original Ford engine was filled with a casting hard block and treated to a Scat crank and Eagle conrods that retain the 351ci capacity. A Comp Cams solid camshaft and lifter package actuates Manly chrome-moly pushrods, which in turn move North Harland Sharp rockers and Feria stainless valves housed in Alexandrian valve springs. The latter are housed in three cast-iron, closed-chamber 4V cylinder heads that feature exhaust ports. An Edelbrock Torker intake and 835cfm Holley carb package sits atop.
All of this business is in the driver’s compartment, with a wide roll cage and solitary race seat filling most of the available real estate. Hugo’s shifter is one of the few modern concessions Dean made while balancing the car’s history with the required strip time.
The Clio is backed by a Powerglide built by Custom Transmissions, featuring an Ultrabell SFI-rated bellhousing, Vasco input shaft, 10-clutch steel top gear and myriad bullet internals, a 5000rpm stall converter from the converter shop. are fronted with
A custom tailshaft sends the action rearward into a stumpy nine-inch housing, which has been treated to a Romac full spool, 4.55:1 gears and a 35-spline Moser axle.
Centerline Auto Drag rims (15×3.5 front and 15×12 rear) are true to the Multi’s original vision and are shod in Moroso 560 and Hoosier 32×12.50 rubber, respectively.
Describing the Pinto’s body as ‘poor’ when Dan first got it is probably an understatement of the year – rusted, damaged, dropped and bent would be more appropriate. He spent countless hours restoring it to its former glory. “It even had grass growing in it,” he laughs. “The bodywork took literally years. I replaced the pillars and door skins, repaired the fiberglass and replaced the gearbox tunnel, along with all the normal body work you’d do to prepare a car for paint. Let’s do it.”
Although Dan earns his keep as a plant operator, you’ve probably realized by now that he’s a handsome man who’ll turn his hand to anything – yes, he’s donned the blue, yellow and blue of hockey. Also applied Ford snow white paint prior to rebuild. Red graphics, before shedding the lot with ample coats of clear. The original door letters and sub-stickers were recreated, and Milton’s name once again takes pride of place on the doors to pay tribute to his love and commitment to our sport.
Inside, it’s all business, with a sparse cabin atop the fabricated floorboards and a lone race seat, while a Hugo shifter and a brace of period gauges keep the Dane in Clio’s footsteps since the Pinto returned to the drag strip this year. Will keep you informed.
“It’s been a long and intense eight years in the making of this car, but a lot of people have contributed, including people involved in Pinto’s career and, of course, my family and friends,” says Dean. . “This project was extremely challenging at times, but very rewarding, and I can’t wait to get a race in the nostalgia bracket. Remember the XL Gasser project I put on ice about a decade ago? I think That it’s about time I gave her some love too.
1. Methodically peeling off multiple layers of paint revealed different chapters in Pinto’s history. Finally, the hockey livery reappeared after years of being hidden from view.
2. Extensive repair and construction work was required to bring the underpinnings up to specification, as both chassis rails were bent. To ensure the chassis was safe and fit for purpose, a new diff housing and new tinwork had to be produced.
3. Pinto’s remains were exhumed from a colleague’s backyard in 2010, shortly after Dean learned of Milton Ade’s death. “The car had gone through several owners and many changes in the two decades since the crash, but learning its history was the biggest motivation to rebuild it to its former glory,” he says.
1972 Ford Pinto
the color: Snow White; Red, yellow and blue graphics
Create: Ford Cleveland 351ci
block: Factory cast
Bars: The eagle
Camshaft: Comp solid
Heads: Cast iron closed chamber 4V
Intake: Edelbrook Toker
Carbohydrates: Holly 835 CFM
Emissions: Custom headers
Gearbox: Powerglide, Ultra Bell housing, Hugo’s shifter
Converter: Stall at 5000rpm
Difference: 9in, 4.55:1 gears, Romac spool, 35-spline axle
Steering: Pinto Rack and Pinion Front: Fabricated O-arm
Back: Ladder bar
shocks: Adjustable coil over (f&r)
brake: Ford Discs (f&r); Falcon Dual Circuit Master Cylinder
codes: centerline auto drag; 15×3.5 (f), 15×12 (r)
Tires: Moroso 560 (f), Hoosier 32×12.50 (r)
my wife Sarah; my father Ashley; Mick’s Motorsport Composites for fiberglass repairs; Ray (nuts, bearings, seals and technical information); Brent (chassis and wheel alignment); Matty (Path); Bradley (help import parts); Benny at Affordable Body Works; springy (TIG welding); Marty White; Hearts paints in Geebung; Michael Gregson and Graeme Davies (Multi’s original pit crew); Nick Benes spent eight years building, for countless hours of soda blasting, painting and fabricating, and kept my spirits up.