Scene & Heard Issue 28

with Zack Stiling

Nick Clements

It might seem daunting times for young people wanting to involve themselves in the custom car hobby, with the recent loss of several motorsport venues and the ever-present spectre of legislation. We can at least be thankful that the NSRA is doing its bit to safeguard our interests going into the future with the introduction of a new under-29s membership scheme.

At the time of the AGM in November 2018, the NSRA had a total of 59 members under the age of 29, which is not a bad figure considering the various obstacles that young people face in obtaining and running a proper car. All the same, it wouldn’t hurt to encourage more into the fold, so the NSRA has taken the initiative to reduce annual membership rates from £31 to £21 for under-29s, offer a £10 discount on entry to the Fun Run and Supernats and set up an under-29s area on the NSRA forum for like-minded youth to share views and advice on making their custom dreams a reality.

Ricky Stapleton is one fella who’s been instrumental in getting the scheme off the ground, and thanks to his efforts the NSRA Under-29s had their first official get-together at the Retro Rides Weekender at Goodwood on May 19th. Five members brought their cars along for the occasion to promote the hobby and show what is achievable to those of us traversing the territory of youth.

Stapleton himself travelled from the Midlands for the occasion, having what must, no doubt, have been a very pleasant run down in the sunny morning in his Lakes-style ’32 Roadster, the only member of the assembly to have yet come into possession of an American V8. Built by Richard James, the fibreglass rod was built on a Ford Pilot chassis and runs an Olds 350.

The NSRA’s ESRA Representative, Gary Sims, ventured along from Somerset with PinUp Pop, his Triumph 1500-engined, Seventies-inspired 103E Popular. With the help and encouragement of dad, Brian, Gary’s car was ready for him to drive by the time he was 20 having cost around £12,000 in all. Following the tried-and-tested formula of HA Viva front suspension and 105E Anglia back axle, the whole build took a total of three years.

The remaining three were relatively local in comparison. Kelly Rumble from Berkshire has been brought up surrounded by her dad Steve’s cornucopia of hot rods and customs, and now runs a handsome, traditionally-styled fibreglass ’28 Model A roadster with B-series power.

From Hampshire, Josh Belcher was assisted into the hobby by his dad Mark, whose ’36 Chrysler sedan street rod is a familiar sight at NSRA events across the country and who sorted him out with a contemporary-styled ’34 Coupe for when he turned 21. Using a ’34 Corner body and chassis and a two-litre Pinto engine, the total cost fell within £13,000.

Dan Hillyer’s unusual 1934 Sunbeam Dawn was bought as an unfinished project by dad Martin and completed as a father-son effort. Transformed from a saloon to a coupe and running a Rover 3500 V8, Dan is only 21 so, if any teenagers should be feeling disheartened by impecuniosity, legislation or whatever other evils threaten today’s hot-rodding youth, I am pleased to present proof that it is still entirely possible to be driving a cool custom by the time you’ve turned 20.

The prospective rodder can learn a thing or two from the experiences of the Goodwood crowd, viz:

  • A straight-four can do practically everything a V8 will do, but it’ll make the build much simpler.
  • A helping hand from Dad, or any other rodding friends, never goes amiss.
  • An element of financial sagacity may have to come into play. Don’t expect to spend all your evenings in the pub and still have time, funds and energy for a nice car.

Writing it like that makes it all seem perfectly simple and, of course, it isn’t, but it is wholly achievable and the NSRA is there to offer support. In particular, the Under-29s scheme is a blessing to those who aren’t from a hot-rodding family or, for whatever reason, don’t have access to generous funds. So, if you’re under-29 and you’re not already signed/signing-up, what are you – crazy? Find out about upcoming NSRA events, introduce yourself, start talking and then start rodding!

We’re always keen to hear from younger rodders, so if you’re starting out in this fine scene, please drop us a line at