Paul Graffin has nicknamed his Schwartz Black ’33 Ford Coupe the ‘Custodian’ He believes that he is just looking after it until the next owner is ready for it. The ’33 has belonged to several people since it was first crafted by legendary hot rod builder, Dick Bushell way back in 1969.
That initial build saw it bathed in red paint, trimmed in white and fitted with a bundle of goodies courtesy of an original XR GT Falcon. The car was a show stopper, a freeway cruiser and a street race winner. It was regarded as one of the most influential hot rods of its time. Adding to its ‘60s styled charm was its un-chopped roofline and 5-inch channel. It is the car’s unique look that makes it so recognisable still to this very day amongst rodding connoisseurs.
In all honesty, though, Paul was unaware of just what he had stumbled across in the for sale section of a magazine a few years ago, but he knew one thing, he liked what he saw.
“At the time I just wanted something different in a hot rod. The un-chopped look appealed to me, as did the channel job. When I first saw the car in 2012, I didn’t have the coin at the time, so I gave it a miss. I saw the car advertised again sometime later so I chased it up. Once again the dollar factor had me a little bothered, but when a good friend of mine was diagnosed with a serious illness I thought ‘what am I waiting for’ I decided to just bite the bullet and buy it. There really isn’t much time to waste in life” Paul said.
When the car arrived here, it needed some work to fit our State’s licensing requirements – of course. “It was a bit of a shame that I had to lose the nicely bobbed rear guards and the Hilborn style scoop. The other changes to the car were safety-related – tyres and suspension stuff and a few other simple bits and pieces. It did still take me some time to be enthused to make the alterations though” laughed Paul.
Since that first build in ’69 the car has gone through a few different guises – but plenty of the original car has remained. From red to purple to the black the body suited all the colours, but Paul is more than happy to leave it as is now. It will stay black.
The polished firewall is the original item, just tidied up and given some attention. Small tractor headlights were fitted at the front along with a ’32 Ford grille assembly. Outback sits a set of 1950 Pontiac tail lights. Genuine 12-slotter rims from the XR GT lasted for quite some time until another owner decided that they didn’t quite fit the bill. Thankfully, (their) back up plan was a winner. CNC machined billet centres slid into alloy outers producing a similar look to the classic Radir wheel of the ‘60s. The fronts measure 14×6-inches with the rears being a larger, 15×8-inches. BFG Silvertown white walls are located on all four corners.
The interior needed plenty of attention, but it still reflects the original build – the white diamond pattern stitch work was replicated, and the Smiths gauges were kept in place. The same tape deck from ‘69 remains as does the no-name steering wheel. It is a genuine time capsule in there – just how it should be.
As referenced a few times in this article, is the XR GT Falcon. From all accounts, Dick Bushell managed to get his hands on a barely year old example that was stolen from a mate and then recovered in pieces. Dick purchased all the bits and milked it for all it was worth.
The stockish 289 donk was slotted into the ’33 but has since been given some real beef over the years with the inclusion of the GMC huffer and forged internal goodies. The Isky heads wear trick M/T valve covers and the custom, polished manifold a Holley carby. Those trick 4-inch lake pipes make the engine look a lot cooler and tougher than it really is.
The Top Loader from the GT was an obvious choice as was the 8 ¾ rear end. It goes without saying that the brakes are from the same donor car.
The front end is fitted with a 3-inch dropped axle set up with Rod Tech shocks and the unusual, Austin 1800 rack and pinion steering system. The rear of the car wears Rod Tech shocks too along with a transverse spring assembly.
Since having the black beauty in his possession, Paul has gone out of his way to clock up plenty of kays on the car, but the ’33 does have some stiff competition for attention. Paul also has two other notable rides – a sweet ’57 T-Bird and an equally impressive 1950 Chevy pick up to choose from on his days off.
“There is no denying the rod is cool. It has been a dream of mine to own one. I remember being a young kid riding on public transport for hours, just to get to the hot rod shows in South Perth to drool over the cars and of course, there was the movie American Graffiti – that pretty much made every kid of my generation desire a hot rod. Owning a car of this much importance is a real privilege, and when I bought it, I promised to not alter the look of the machine, just maintain it. I will be sure as hell telling the next guy who buys it off me to adhere to the same rules. Hopefully, the car can live on, untouched the way it is now as a tribute to the ‘60s styled rods of the Australian scene.”