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Fast Freddies Rod Shop

Fast Freddies Rod Shop
By
noderel: 

Standing just outside an orange door of a hundred year old building I could hear the buzzing of grinders, and the crackling of welders.  “Sounds like the boys are hard at it” I thought to myself as I pulled the door open at Fast Freddies Rod Shop in Eau Claire, WI.  Once inside it’s a visual overload…my eyes glanced over several muscle car projects in various stages, a gorgeous 49 Merc, a crazy looking early school bus, and directly in front of me the mother of all engines…a 426 hemi.

I’m greeted by smiles and handshakes as the guys pause from their craft for a quick catch up session.  The crew at FFs has never been busier.  What started out as very humble beginnings has grown into a full time crew of 5 in a 9000 sq ft shop that is filled to capacity with projects.

Shortly after arriving at Fast Freddies the ecstatic owner of the freshly completed 49 Merc arrived to pick up his pride and joy.  The 78 year old owner had proposed to his wife 55 years earlier in a 49 Merc, so the car held great sentimental value to him.  The owner’s children located and purchased this particular 49, and gave it to him as a surprise gift.  The Merc, as with many projects started out as a simple re-spray, but evolved into a full blown build, and revamp of the car. The dated 1980s build held many hidden uglies that the crew at FFs corrected as well as building in a great deal of safety and drivability to the car.   While watching the interaction between the guys and the customer as they reminisced about the Merc’s build while loading it on the trailer it became very clear that you are not just a number when you become a customer a FFs, but an extension of the shop, and a friend.

With the customer on his way Fred gave me a quick walk around tour of what was happening in the shop.  First up was a 1970 Duster that was nearing completion.  Originally a slant 6/automtic car FFs had upgraded it to a 360 mill and 727 trans.  The body received a repaint and the interior was converted from white to black along with a bench to bucket seats conversion.  The overall objective was to take a plain Jane ride, and covert it into a street/strip car…I’d say they pulled it off nicely.

Next came a gorgeous 1970 Challenger RT convertible.  The Challenger was a one owner, F4 green with a white top & interior, #s matching 383, four speed car that the all the of owners children had learned how to drive in…WOW.  The RT was last driven in 1988 and the owners needed a very special shop to refurbish their ultra special car.  The crew at FFs performed a complete ground-up restoration that kept the overall esthetic of the Challenger looking bone stock, but under the surface was a 383 to 496 stroker motor with aluminum stealth heads.  The owner ran Keystone Classics back in the day, so a fresh set was put back on, but overall the car has a gorgeous OEM look.

Our next stop was another MOPAR, this one if the form of a nasty looking 1971 Challenger RT.  The factory 340, four speed car was being converted into a Trans AM SCCA race car as well as a loose tribute of the Sam Posey “Classic Wax Challenger.”  The list of upgrades on the Challenger is extensive and radical, but here a few:

- A fuel injected 408 stoker small block backed by a TKO 500 Tremec 5 speed

- Canton Racing oiling system with Accusump to maintain oil pressure equilibrium

- Moser custom fabricated 8 ¾ rear end housing, center section, and axles

- RMS alterKtion front suspension

-AFCO dual adjustable coil over spring front and rear

- XV Motorsports rear suspension

- Independent master cylinders for the brakes and clutch

- Functional cooling ducts for the brakes

- Functional ram air hood.

Next came a pair of nasty pro-touring GM cars built by the shop for the same customer that were on hand for some minor adjustments and upgrades.  The first was a beautiful, silver, 69 Camaro running a 427 and a Tremec 5 speed.  The big block was originally built with a Quick Fuel 850 cfm carburetor, and was being upgraded to a Holley Avenger multi-port EFI set-up.  The Nova was built as the Camaros evil step brother and runs a 496 stroker engine and a Tremec 5 speed.  The Nova was in for its annual check up and an oil change.

We then made our way over to the radical looking 1937 Chevy school bus which is ironically owned by a local bus barn company.  The bus had received an amateur restoration in the 1980s but was absolutely no fun to drive running a straight six, 4 wheel drum set-up that leaked heavily and proved to be very unreliable…so the bus did a great deal of sitting around.  The crew at FFs is pouring new life into the old work horse with a chassis swap that now runs a fuel injected big block back by a 4L80E tranny.  The bus is also air bagged for a comfortable ride, has front hydro boost brakes, vintage air conditioning, power steering, and an air ride drivers seat. 

At this point I was starting to wonder, and perhaps you are too…what is the story on the 426 Hemi?  Fred explained that Hemi was to be dropped into the bare metal 68 Dart I spotted earlier.  The customer had always been obsessed with 68 Super Stock Hemi Darts, but wanted a more refined version, so he brought his dream to Fast Freddie’s to create the “Gentleman’s Hemi Dart.”  The fresh 426 mill was built by legendary hemi builder Eddie Haines of HEMI Haines in Daytona Beach, FL especially for this project.  The hemi will run on pump gas through dual-quad FAST EFI throttle bodies and make 600 hp with only a mild cam.  I can’t wait to see this one come together.

I love shops like Fast Freddies that prove you do not need a massive, million dollar shop to turn out amazing builds.  The intimacy of a smaller shop that keeps its customers involved and updated is worth its weight in gold, and FFs is top notch in every aspect of what they do.  To check out any of FF’s projects or to contact them in regards to building your dream car check their website at http://fastfreddiesrodshop.com/.