IIf you haven’t heard of Steven Aldrich or his business, Deluxe Rod Shop, you may have been living under a rock for the past 10 years. Then again, Steve doesn’t really like to toot his own horn or talk himself up. He’s quietly spoken, modest to a fault and always beautifully built, subtly churning out hot bars and street machines.
This article was first published in the April 2020 issue. Street Machine
For a guy still in his 30s, he sure has built a lot of cool cars, but that’s because he’s been doing it his whole life. Steve is following in the footsteps of his father Ray, who ran TCR Carpenters for many years. The fact that he’s a second-generation hot rodder definitely gave Steve a bit of a head start and is probably part of the reason he’s such a capable builder.
The original Vista Green paint looks great as the sun goes down. Clean lines and a low stance are complemented by slightly hot rod styling with big and small rubber.
How precious? How about 10 different cars unveiled in the last 10 summers? Many people would be proud to get this once in their life!
After every summer net, Steve doesn’t just sit back and admire his hard work. He’s back at it, because the Victorian Hot Rod Show is only a few weeks away. At this year’s VHRS, he took home the Top Ute trophy, and has shown 20 different cars at the show over the past decade.
The teardrop scoop is a masterpiece crafted from steel by Steve, and even incorporates the twin swell lines from the original bonnet. It is inspired by the Thunderbolt Fairlanes and lightweight Galaxies of the mid-60s.
While the majority of the cars Smyrnats unveiled were built for customers, the first – a ’34 Ford Roadster – and this XR ute were built for themselves. He also slipped into a ’32 Ford Tudor for his wife, Kathleen, a few years ago, but this ute is special, as Steve has wanted one for a long time.
Initial plans were going to be a backdated 5.0L with a tin core and all the factory markings. Plans changed, and a 500hp 347 Windsor pulled from Steve’s ’34 roadster found its way there instead. The 347 was given a bit of a birthday, with RHS heads, a Victor Jr. intake, Scat rods and crank and a 750 Ultra HP up top.
“The car came from Glen Innes and I sent it through CEVA Transport and got a permit to drive home,” he says. “There’s a big hill in Whittlesea about 40km from our house and it never made it up the hill. It was a tired, old, battered six-cylinder. Kathleen was following me and her van The screen was covered in engine oil. I was sitting on the side of the road and thought, after that, I’ll put Windsor in it right away. This is where it snowed. It was a mint that had No one has recovered, grandpa.”
Initially, that snowball was going to be pretty small: “Originally I was just going to put all the tin on the 5.0 liter with valve covers and make it the way it should be,” says Steve. “So that’s why the 347 looks the way it does, because I already had all that stuff sandblasted and primed and ready to just put a sticky motor on.”
The bottom is just as clean as the top, with body color extending to the floor pans. Ventilated discs with XF Falcon alloy calipers help in the braking department.
Well, that little snowball grew to the size of a small car, and what ended up in the ute was a 500hp Windsor that David Baird screwed together using a whole bunch of stuff from Pavtek, e.g. CNC Ported RHS Allied Heads. , port-matched Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake and custom grind cam. To be fair, it’s the motor out of Steve’s ’34, which runs 11 seconds lower, but it’s been updated considerably and should easily push against similar ETs.
The rest of the driveline has also been updated, with a C4 fitted with a TCE 4500rpm converter and an XT GT Falcon diff with 3.7:1 gears and Truetrac LSD. You may have noticed that there is no fancy shifter on the floor. Instead, Steve installed a factory column shift, custom fabricated the linkage to go around the headers.
The thirsty Windsor needs a good supply of fuel, so Steve installed an aeromotive pump in the tank compartment under the tray, along with a filter, regulator and fuel pressure gauge.
It wasn’t just the driveline that was covered in snow. The bodywork endured a lot more love than Steve had initially planned. “I was a little heartbroken because it was sideswiped in 1970 and the whole thing was repainted, but because it was so old it looked like factory paint. Kathleen said: ‘You in the tailgate. Can’t get rid of the dent,’ so I started pulling the dent out of the tailgate and it wouldn’t come out. It had a two-inch bog. Not an ounce of rust; the best interior and exterior tailgate ever. You’ve ever seen – but it just has a big dent filled with swamp. “So I took it off, blew up the frame, made a new skin by folding and English wheeling and finished it all with metal. .
The 16in So-Cal Speed Shop Hot Rod wheels are a nod to 1960s Indy and NASCAR wheels. They’re a proper spindle-mount deal with knock-off spinners, and are shod with 175/75 and 225/55 rubber.
“The whole direction of the left hand was the same,” Steve continues. “It had an inch of swamp because they ran it under the gate post. I taped the dent on the guard, the door and the left quarter panel and now it doesn’t have an ounce. It was just that they Tossed it from side to side and didn’t bother knocking out the dents.
The right side also needed a little attention. It had a quarter panel installed in 1970 and Steve fitted a rare spares door skin and a new guard.
It was a base model – not even a Falcon 500 – but Steve made it a bit more livable with carpet, armrests, pleats in the seats and a radio. Fancy!
While this was all to get the car back to factory-fresh condition, the work on the bonnet is some serious metal wizardry. “I was bored one Sunday,” laughs Steven. “I bought a shut bonnet from a guy that already had a hole in it, because I didn’t want to break a good bonnet. I made the teardrop in about eight hours. Then it took me the next week to make the underframe. So that it looks like a factory.”
What’s really cool is how Steve continued the swell lines going down the middle of the bonnet. He achieved this using Pull Max dies with nylon, and then TIG welded the scoop to the original bonnet skin. There are some falcon Nazis who have said: “Why did you do that?” But don’t panic; Steve painted the original bonnet and hung it in the shed.
You can’t buy new radio knobs for XR Falcons, so Chad Forward 3D printed them before Steve smoothed and painted them. The final pieces of the puzzle, which arrived just in time, were the gauge surround and shifter quadrant. Steve’s good mate Darren Mantle drove 350km the week before Christmas to pick up and drop off the parts.
“Honestly, I think reverse cowl scopes have swept the nation,” he declares. “I had a bunch of judges come up to me at Smyrnatus and thank me for not putting welds or center lines on it and not putting a reverse cowl on it. They said: ‘Your car probably went forward because you What was different.’” If you still have problems with this, look at the Thunderbolt Fairlanes and lightweight Galaxies from 1964 and it might start to make sense.
For a guy who spends his days building cars for other people, it’s pretty cool that Steve still gets to build cars for himself. “I am worried!” they say. “You’re probably more excited about a customer’s car than what you’ve done and how you’ve done it, whereas it’s like a restored car, but you’re just excited because it’s yours. I just Love going to Smyrnatus and being a part of it, and always try to keep a car there.
10 out of 10
On Street Machine Smyrnatus 33, Steve was awarded the Master Craftsman Award, but some punters seemed a little confused as to why he took the win, a restored Falcon ute. Of course, that’s not what the award is all about. It was presented to Steve because he has unveiled 10 different cars in 10 years at Smyrnatus.
This year was extra special for Steve, as he booked the first cars in a decade starting with his own ’34 roadster and ending with another car built specifically for him rather than a customer. It’s a fantastic effort, and it’s great to see Steve – and his team – recognized for all the amazing work that comes out of the Deluxe Rod Shop.
Steve Aldrich – ’34 Ford Roadster
Top open hot rod
Evan McDonald – ’33 Ford Coupe
Top 10, Top Closed, Top Engineered
Anthony Newman – EH Holden
Top 10, Top Engine Bay, Top Undercarriage
Neil Monette – ’34 Ford Coupe
Top engineered hot rod
Kathleen Aldrick — ’32 Ford Tudor
John Basso – XW Falcon Van
James Family – ’29 Ford Tudor
David Murphy – ’32 Ford Roadster
Top 10, Top Engineered Hot Rod, Top Open Hot Rod, 3rd Top Undercarriage
Mike King – XM Falcon Coupe
Top 10, PPG Supreme Winner
Steve Aldrich – XR Falcon
Top ute, master craftsman
A family that sticks together stays together. Steve with wife Kathleen and children Zoe (5) and Jack (3).
1966 Ford XR Falcon Ute
paint: PPG Vista Green
Type: 347ci Windsor
Inlet: Edelbrock Victor Jr
Carbohydrates: Holly Ultra HP 750 CFM
Heads: RHS 225cc CNC ported
Valves: 2.02 inches (in), 1.60 inches (ex)
Camera: Pawtek/Marshall custom grind
Piston: SHP fake
Conrods: Skate H Beam
radiator: Four row with 16 inch electric fan
Emissions: Four-to-one headers, 17/8-inch primaries, twin 3-inch stainless
‘box: FoMoCo C4 by Alan Walton
Converter: TCE stalls at 4500rpm
Difference: XT GT, 3.7 gears, Truetrac
Front end: Standard, 24mm sleeper bar
brake: XF Falcon alloy calipers (f), drums (r)
codes: So-Cal Speed Shop Hot Rod; 16×5 (f), 16×8 (r)
Rubber: Nankang CM-20 175/75R16 (f), Toyo Proxes 225/55R16 (r)
Jim Wolstein Craft for bodywork and buffing, lending a helping hand and being a companion who is always there. Mick McCallum for physical work and all subsequent work; Theo from Pavtek for engine advice; Kathleen and the kids for all the missing Sundays, for feeding me and keeping me watered and financially supported; my colleagues Neil Boniface, Ron Mills, Edward and Ken, Darren Mantle, Dan and Kelly Suter, David Baird, Troy Nutter, Scott Green and Brandon Watts; Melomotive Oxitec; Z on GT Ford Performance; Scott and Cam at SG Auto Electrics; Brendan Carroll at Car Builders