There won’t be many of us vacating this life and leaving behind something which we created with our own hands that will give pleasure to those generations who follow us. But that is exactly what my late father BRIAN MULLAN, of Vow Road in the small County Antrim town of BALLYMONEY, Northern Ireland, has achieved…
My father Brian sadly passed away suddenly on 4th September 2007, aged 67, but not without leaving his legacy for classic car enthusiasts, and those who appreciate the dying specialist car building trades, to have as a reminder of what a talented, skilful and dedicated man he was…
A mechanic and engineer all his life, my father loved nothing more than to be in his garage, working at, or designing something to do with motor vehicles. In his lifetime, he restored quite a few classics to their former glory – the most extensive of which were a Mk II Jaguar 3.2, which was completely stripped and refurbished, and a Mk I Cooper S, which he had rebuilt completely from a new Mini shell, which he had converted back to Mk I spec (a real task!)
The car which I am showcasing today however is his beautifully created 1937 FORD Model Y Special ‘Falcon’…
Those of you who know your onions, will of course see, that the car is not what is commonly known as the Ford Falcon, as it was a fibreglass hardtop. However that was what my father originally started with (although very dilapidated).
The chassis of the Model Y, was in excellent condition. However, since my dad intended to build the coachwork himself, he decided to lengthen and widen the chassis, using sections from a similar one he had acquired. He also used these to strengthen the chassis, as the vehicle was going to be an open top.
Engine was complete with Aquaplane head, and 1 ¼” SU carbs, which was completely stripped, rebuilt, painted, and carbs, etc., polished up.
Gearbox was stripped, checked over and rebuilt, driveshaft and housing had to be lengthened due to the chassis alteration, and all axles, suspension, etc., were stripped, rebuilt, and of course, all the components were shot blasted and painted.
When the rolling chassis was completed, my dad the set about designing the body for the car…
Years ago, himself and his brother Charlie, owned a Riley MPH, which he always talked about, and the design was loosely based on it.
The framework for the body was made from steel, but all the panels, including floor panels, are aluminium which he made and hand shaped himself.
Even the air vents on the side engine panels, were cut and shaped by hand, not pressed out like most are today. The doors were ‘suicide doors’, opening from the front, and both sides of the bonnet hood are hinged from the centre of the car (brass hinges used).
The bulkhead too is heavy aluminium sheeting, bent to form the necessary shape, and the floor is designed to flow any rain water which enters the car, out the centre where the driveshaft housing exit’s the interior. The car was intended to be usable in all weathers.
Mudguards were formed, by purchasing steel trailer guards, splitting and narrowing them, making them the correct length, and then migging a steel formed rod down the centre of each to form the rib (for cosmetic and strengthening reasons). The front guards are mounted to the wheel hubs, and thus turn with the wheels.
The compartment behind the seating area, houses the fuel tank, and allows for dry storage of any tools, etc.
Originally my father had a side exiting exhaust fitted, but it was too fumy on slow journeys, so he made on to exit at the rear.
He had a few modifications done to suit himself as he had a very bad back and hip… the suicide doors made for awkward entering and exiting the car, so he came up with the idea of a removable steering wheel, so he acquired a suitable boss and that was that problem solved.
Another was due to the car being so narrow – when he was carrying a passenger the gear stick was difficult to manoeuvre so he designed his own column change which takes a bit of getting used to…
Also, since the car was taken on substantial journeys, he fitted a ‘hand throttle’ so as he could rest his hip.
So, in his ‘37 open top he had cruise control (hand throttle), column change and one of the best immobilisers – a removable steering wheel.
I think, from memory he acquired the car around the year 2000 and finished it in 2002; two days before a planned ‘around Ireland Run’ organised by the Ford Y&C Register UK.
The car completed over 1100 miles in ten days, and never missed a beat; such was the intensity of my dad’s preparation…
He has attended quite a lot of runs, with the Y&C Register in GB and the Isle of Man, helping raise funds for Cancer and Leukaemia Research as well as countless other charities.
His last run out in the ‘Falcon’ was August 2007; 3 weeks before his passing when I drove him in the car to Powerscourt Picnic & Run 2007 in Dublin. It took us four hours to drive down in the pouring rain, but I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to have that special time with him (I miss him so much xx).
We had a great time that weekend, and he was so pleased to meet up with his friends from the Register, John Fitzgerald and Sam Roberts. I was invited back to Powerscourt this year (2008) where I was delighted to be presented with John Fitzgerald’s fathers perpetual trophy in memory of my dad… it was an emotional time for me.
I have acquired a few trophies so far this season, but I cannot take the credit for them, as all I’m doing is taking the car there. All credit should be going to my dad, Brian, God bless him.
The car will never leave my family in my day, and hopefully for a long time after that.
I intend to show it as much as possible and get my dad the recognition he rightfully deserves, for having the skill and ability to build this unique wee treasure and put a smile on people’s faces, even when he’s gone.