YOU won’t see it at this week’s CV Show but Hard Up Garage’s Ford pick-up hotrod is raising smiles and threatening to singe eyebrows with its V8 thunder and fire-breathing.
The head-turning pick-up’s the product of an enterprise run by Hampshire-based Mercedes-trained advanced technician Sam Hard and his dad Derek.
They run the Hard Up Garage from workshops in several arched casemates under the ramparts of the 150-year-old listed Fort Fareham on the South Coast.
The moated polygon Victorian fortification, that has modern industrial units on the old central parade ground, was built to repel the French but is now being invaded by American muscle machines.
The latest is the 1932 Ford pick-up, partnered by a 1931 Model A sedan, both refurbished bodies on robust new chassis with modern running gear including 5.7-litre Chevrolet V8, new suspension and big four-pot disc brakes.
For shows, such as the weekend’s Spinnaker Supercars charity abseil at Portsmouth’s Gunwharf, the cars can breathe flames and bellow, but they would normally be fully road legal under the regulations that also make them MOT and VED exempt.
Sam trained as a Mercedes-Benz technician but decided to branch out on his own with his American car enthusiast dad Derek seven years ago, first as Mercedes specialists but soon finding their own direction.
Sam explains: “I’ve been into American cars all my life – I was nearly born in a Pontiac Transam as my mother was rushed to the maternity hospital.
James is into prestige, we’re into anything weird, whacky and wonderful – something that makes me smile and others too, and people love it
“Then we teamed up with James Keenan who runs Phoenix Imports, to collaborate, and it’s taken off.
“James is into prestige, we’re into anything weird, whacky and wonderful – something that makes me smile and others too, and people love it.”
Sam uses a car finder in Texas to track down the donor old cars with title and then they are transformed by a conversion specialist in Mexico before being shipped from the United States to the UK where Hard Up arrange all the UK legalities.
The stripped bare metal bodywork is clear-coated to highlight the rustic attraction. As Sam says: “You can see every bruise of their long life and there’s not a baked bean of filler.”
The pick-up is currently up for grabs at £35,000, while the General Lee tribute two-door sedan “the kind of thing the “Dukes of Hazzard” General Lee car designer Crazy Cooter would have driven” is going under the hammer at Baron’s auction in August.
And there’s more on the way. “We’ve got a lot of commercials – pick-ups, recovery truck, vans, all sorts. We can’t turn it round fast enough!” said Sam.