Rod Wilson started buying American hot rod magazines in the early 1960s, which led to an interest in hot rodding. When the clutch died on his first car, a 1934 Morris 10/4 and he couldn’t buy parts to repair it, Rod saw this as an opportunity to do his first engine swap. He rounded up a good Rover engine, recessed the firewall on the Morris and made it fit. While he did manage to get it going, the rudimentary modifications failed when the tail shaft let go and signalled the demise of the Morris.

In 1963 he couldn’t resist the opportunity to purchase a rare and run-down Briggs-bodied Model A fordor sedan. Rod re-wooded it with the help of a friend, added a Stromberg 97 carby, 16” 35 Ford spoke wheels and a Prefect distributor. Rod used the Model A until it was sold in the mid-60s. Some of the other cars in his early motoring years included a Triumph Mayflower, ‘47 sedan, ‘57 Customline and a 1934 coupe that he channelled and powered with a 272 Y block. He started to build a ‘28 Ford with a 287 Pontiac V8 which appeared as unfinished in two Hot Rod Spectaculars before it was dismantled and sold off in parts.  

In 1976, Rod purchased a running 1939 Ford sedan that he still owns. He drove it to the Nationals in Narrandera in 1977 and attended numerous rod runs in the ensuing years. The sedan is currently being rebuilt and is at the painting stage.

Hot Rodding in WA was in a transitional phase in the 70s, with new clubs establishing themselves within the ASRF. Rod Wilson was a founding member of Early Wheels Street Rod Club in the mid-70s. From 1972, Rod was an active member in the committee set up to gain acceptance for street rod registration. When permission was granted to build rods in 1975, he was one of the first to be appointed to administer the process, formulating licensing guidelines and inspecting rods prior to being presented to the Road Traffic Authority. He remained on the committee until the mid-80s. In addition to the TAC duties, 1976 saw him being appointed as the first WA member of the ASRF national judging panel. This enabled him to judge cars at State Title Shows in all states and at other events.

Rod joined West Coast SRC in late 1965 and started judging cars at the second WA Hot Rod Show in 1967. in 1975 he judged the first ASRF sanctioned show at the Pagoda Ballroom. Rod’s last two shows were the WA Hot Rod & Street Machine Spectacular in 2016 and the Sydney Hot Rod & Custom Auto Expo in 2017.

We thank and congratulate Rod for his continuous commitment to hot rodding in Western Australia.