September 2, 2009
The Inglourious Basterds of Divers Street Rods
By John Naderi
See these cars? These cars do one thing and one thing only – and that’s kill Natzis! Alright, maybe these bare metal beasties don’t actually kill “Natzis” per se but they are indeed Inglorious Bastards in their own right. This ’57 Cadillac and ’39 Ford are just two concepts to spring from the beautiful mind of Tim Divers. While their specs may offend some purists neither of these works-in-progress are even remotely the Bastardest (most bastardly?) ride to roll out of the doors of this fantasy factory. Hit the jump to see La Bella Machina Bastardo and more from Divers Street Rods
Here it is in all of its glory. At first glance it appears to be a severely smoothed 1960 Nash Rambler. However the 250 GT Lusso Berlinetta nose and Rosso Corsa hue look oddly out of place on this old American Motors wagon.
Upon opening the hatch it hits you like a Prada handbag-wielding Sophia Loren. Yes, that is a Ferrari V-8. More specifically a 405hp 3.6L horizontally-opposed V-8. The inspiration for this build, er metamorphosis came when the Rambler’s owner, Mike Warn (who ran family-founded Warn Industries before selling it in 2000) asked Tim what he should do with the wagon. Knowing that Mike has a fondness for both hot rods and exotics – he owns Gran Prix Imports in Wilsonville, Oregon – Tim said in jest, “I’d slap a Ferrari-powered engine in the back of her and slam her to the ground.” The notion stuck and thus, “Ferrambo” was borne. After one rich kid’s prom night went horribly awry they had their donor engine wrapped in a totaled 2002 360 Modena.
I can’t even begin to go into all of the exquisite details on this car. The ceramic rotors were sand-machined from custom billet molds. The custom-made 20×10 spline-drive wheels were machined out of 6061 T651 aluminum billet and the steering wheel – just look at that steering wheel! – was hand-made by gluing thin strips of Teak together. I didn’t have the heart to tell Tim that you can get these Nardi wheels on eBay. Haha, JK, JK LOL. The amount of fabrication on this car is impossible to comprehend in one day. Click here to learn more about Ferrambo.
Speaking of details all of the engine management wiring and oil and cooler lines were laced out. Not pimped out, not tucked, but laced as in wrapped with fine leather and hand-stitched by Tim’s brother, Scott Divers. On a related note the Divers crew was forced to run a MoTeC stand-alone engine management system after Ferrari was less than enthusiastic about remapping one of its ECU’s to power a Rambler wagon. Lighten up, Maranello.
In addition to the fuming Ferraristas some Rambler fans have bemoaned the mating of this engine and chassis. As if to say, “way to mess up a perfectly good Rambler.” Mess it up? Or make it the Best. Rambler. EVER!
I first saw Ferrambo after it won last year’s Ridler Award. For those of you who weren’t aware the Ridler competition takes place at the Chicago – nee Detroit – Autorama and it’s essentially the Olympics of hot rod building. Later I spotted Ferrambo on the cover of the 2009 Art Morrison catalog, which is fitting because Art Morrison supplied the chassis and steering box for this unique build. Craig Morrison (wonder if he knows Art) told me that Divers Street Rods were the ab fab fabricators behind Ferrambo and that they were located in Startup, Washington. Exsqueeze me, where? So Craig says it’s near Art Morrison HQ in Fife. And I say, ‘where’s Fife?’ (I can do this all day.) Startup may be only 45 minutes outside of Seattle but for all intents and purposes it’s a different world.
Divers Street Rods is located well off Startup’s Main drag/beaten path in an impossibly beautiful expanse of land that looks like one of those swap meet landscape oil paintings come to life. I’m talking Northern Exposure here, kiddies. The sprawling compound looks like it would house Ben Cartwright and his boys instead of one of America’s premier hot rod builders. But maybe this is where Tim gets his inspiration by living and working in such an inspiring locale. This pile of parts is almost too perfectly strewn about as if it’s straight out of Central Casting. Just one example of how Divers can make something look so right – even a pile of old parts. The donor 360’s aluminum quarter panel is impossible to miss.
Tim admits that even he may not be able to surpass the sheer madness that is Ferrambo but these two builds are a good start.
This is Tim Dando’s Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, which cost $13,000 when new in ‘57 (roughly $100K in today’s rapidly weakening dollars). Apparently the General only commissioned 400 of these models and the numbers-matching Concourse lawn set are aghast that Divers is hotting this rod up (making me love this one even more). I believe those are 22-inch Centerlines and they look positively puny in the cavernous fenderwells. About those fenderwells, Tim didn’t like the trailing edge of the front fenders so they’re changing them. Aside from the boattail fins I found the windshield frame particularly intriguing.
Even more intriguing is the engine choice for this Caddy. You may have noticed the FMIC peeking out from beneath the Brougham’s front fascia. My, my, my grandma, what a big intercooler you have. All the better to cool the intake charge on my Duramax Diesel, my dear. The 6.6L V-8 produces 300hp and 520 lb-ft of torque in factory fresh guise, which isn’t much better than the original 325hp dual-carb’d V-8. However, this is no factory fresh turbodiesel. Tim and his crew guesstimate that the oil burner will bump up on the 1,000hp mark with some 1,500 lb-ft of twist. Insano!
And then there was this – a 1939 Ford owned by Mike Warn’s wife, Cindy. In a good-natured spousal rivalry she wants Divers to top Ferrambo with this build. Man, I wish my wife was like this. Did I just type that or think it? Pardon me, but now I’m forced to insert the obligatory, “JK baby, ILY!”
The name of this car is GT ‘39, which is play on the spiritual ancestry of the Ford GT from whence this engine came. The modular V-8 presents a challenge in that it resides amidships in the GT whereas it is set in a standard FR configuration in the GT ‘39. However I doubt Divers had problems fabricating a bellhousing after seeing what he did with Ferrambo. I wasn’t able to confirm if Divers wants to increase the output on the blown 550-hp 5.4 liter but knowing this crew I think they have something special in mind.
Here’s one more picture of the GT ’39 that I had to include. I cannot resist tracing the lines of this car repeatedly like giving Ana Hickmann’s gloriously infinite gams the once over with my eyes, or better yet, my hands (JK baby, ILY!). Just look at that fender and the hip line. I’m unsure which embodies perfection more, Ana’s thigh-to-hip transition or the way the chopped roof blends into the trunk. Yummy.
In an amazing confluence of events our visit coincided with Divers’ annual open house (the shop is normally not open to the public). In a few short hours the tranquility of our time with Tim’s creations was shattered by all manner of burbling rods idling lumpily onto the field in the back of the shop. It was quite an eclectic mix with everything from an F430 to a Forties era Chevrolet truck.
And finally here is the man himself. After researching Ferrambo and seeing some of his other works I thought Tim Divers would be full of that Jesse James cocky insouciance (read: douchiness?) that would be expected of a Ridler winner. Compounding this is that Tim’s builds flaunt a single-digit salute to convention and manage to offend purists in just about every niche (exotics, preservationists and even traditional hot rodders).
But in spite of the immensity of his potentially ego-inflating talent and the polarizing attitude of his work Tim remains a humble soul less concerned with the trappings of the celebrity he’s earned and more focused on building hot rods. As a Ridler winner he’s truly humbled to be in the same class as Chip Foose and Troy Trepanier. After spending a day with you and your magnificent machines, Tim I think they should be honored to be in the same class as you.
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