Sunday, January 31, 2010

Von Dutch Monday IV

In 1974, when the producers of Happy Days were getting ready for production, they (like almost everybody else in Hollywood) went to the Bruckers to get their fleet of "period" vehicles to match the era they were filming in. In this case, 1955 was the supposed "date" for the start of the series.

Originally, the producers had cast Donny Most as Potsie Weber, then decided Anson Williams was a better fit in that role. They kept Most, and changed his role to that of Ralph Malph. They decided also that Ralph needed a hot rod to go along with his character.

They went back to the Bruckers to see what they had that would be suitable for Ralph to drive. The Bruckers had a yellow '29 Ford roadster pickup, but it just didn't have the "look" they wanted. Jim Brucker had Von Dutch add the "fake" headers, a scoop for the carbs, and do a "quickie" flame pinstripe job, in which Dutch striped the flames in a wide sign painter's brush.

Brucker delivered the R/P to the set, the producers loved it, and the rest like they say, is history, and a bit of something you might not have known.
Here you can see the detail of the air scoop, it's pretty much just a single piece that wraps around in a "C" shape, with the sides just riveted on. Cameras don't "see" details like this.

You can also see how Dutch pulled off the fake headers. Only the front tube of the SB Chevy headers is bolted directly to the Flattie's front exhaust port on each side, the other two exhaust pipes on each side exit below the block. A rear support bracket for the headers goes from the rear header flange bolt hole to the frame itself. Again, cameras don't "see" this, either.

Also notice where the pinstriped flames have rubbed off the cowl area from repeated washings and waxings over the years. The Happy Days R/P I believe, is now in the possession of Jerry Duncan, of York, PA.

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