We're into Awesome

Vehicle builder Gordon Tronson, in his own words. “We’re in Henderson, Nevada, and we’re at my shop where all kinds...

February 7, 2019

Vehicle builder Gordon Tronson, in his own words.

“We’re in Henderson, Nevada, and we’re at my shop where all kinds of cool things happen.

“I was born in New Zealand and, in a nutshell, I always wanted a Mustang. And the only way to get one was to come to North America. So in my 20s, I immigrated to Canada, and that really was because I wanted a Mustang. Two weeks later, arriving in Canada, I actually did buy a Mach I 351 Cleveland Fastback.”

Love of American muscle cars

“I’m not sure why I had a passion for American muscle, but I do remember working in an engineering shop and I got to work on a Ford Mainline.”

“Of course, it had a V8 in it, and once I really found out what V8s were all about, then I was stricken. I mean, that was it. It was all over.”

“What we got here is a 1929 Model A Rat Rod, and it’s about as ratty as you can get. It started out with just a bare shell. I built a tube frame for it, stuck in the double-overhead-cam, 4-valve, supercharged Ford motor and period-correct rocket magnesium wheels.

“Last time I showed this, it took first place, which is kind of cool. Pretty much everything around here I keep. I’ve kind of been known for that, not to sell anything. I’ve fallen in love with all of them.

“What we got here is a 1953 Ford Ranch Wagon, two-door. Most of the floor is missing, so I’m not sure what we’re going to do with this – if we’re going to restore it or just take the body off and plunk it on something later.”

“Real job” funds his passion

“Well, believe it or not, I actually have a real job. I have my own business. It’s telecommunications, which I’ve been doing pretty much all my life, so being a gearhead was actually a hobby. Most of my builds are done within a year, year and a half, and chances are while I’m doing that one I’m already thinking about building the next one.

“What we’re looking at right here is a ’57 Chevy four-door. A little bit of an interesting story: I got this at an auction. Somebody took out all the windows and beat the thing up with a baseball bat, and I got it at a pretty good price and, of course, rebuilt it all and put it all back together.”

“Double Trouble”

“So here I am in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I’m collecting a few cars here and there and always wanted something that nobody else had. So I came up with this brainstorm to put twin engines in a roadster, and that’s what I call ‘Double Trouble.’

“What we got here is actually one of my kind of unusual first creations. This is a ’32 Roadster sitting on a tube chassis. And, of course, the beauty of this thing is it’s got twin V8s in it. So, shortly after that I actually mentioned it to a friend of mine that owns a motorcycle shop.”

“I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to build a four-engine Harley motorcycle,’ and he’s like, ‘Yeah, right.’ So that was it. So I had to. I bought the motors brand new. That’s how I started the bike.”

The world’s only backward-running V-twin engines

“I actually bought four RevTech V-twin engines that are 100 cubic inches, 100 horsepower each and put all four on a bench and then built the chassis or frame around them, literally. What’s interesting about that is it was quite an engineering feat. The two engines on the left actually run backward, and that was no easy task. Took a little while to get it, but they’re probably the only two V-twin engines in the whole entire world that run backward.”

Falls in love with the Lambo

“While I was in Canada, I saw my first Lamborghini Countach in a magazine and that was just over the top. I thought that was the most beautiful, coolest car on the planet. And, of course, the price tag on those things even back then was way, way, way out of my reach.”

“So I did what any other Kiwi would do. I just built my own damned Lamborghini.”

“So, believe it or not, this here is a Lamborghini Countach. I actually went to a toy store and bought a 12-scale model. And I took it home and I took a pair of dividers and started measuring all the dimensions of the car and drew it up on paper. And the next thing I know, I’m building a wooden Lamborghini actually, a complete car pretty much out of wood and body filler. And that’s really what gives you the buck to make the fiberglass molds.”

Builds his own Lamborghini

“What you do is you bolt everything together, flip it upside down, polish the hell out of it, shoot a gel coat and then you lay your fiberglass. And then when it cures you take it apart and then you’ve got a body completely finished.

“It went so well, actually, I had a lot of people who wanted to buy kits from me, buy cars. So back in the ’90s that’s what I was doing. I was actually building Lamborghini replicas, and I built about 10 of them.”

“And things were going great until some guy walked in and served me with a $5 million lawsuit to quit doing it, so that was the end of that.”

“At nighttime it’s easy for me to fall asleep. Instead of counting sheep, I just work on the next project and that pretty well puts me to sleep.”

Four engines are better than one

“If you’ve got one supercharged engine, why not have four? So what we’ve got here is a ’62 Ford Econoline. There are four 4.6 Ford double-overhead-cam, 4-valve supercharged engines, probably making about 4,000 horsepower.

“There’s a great saying that Enzo Ferrari said one time. Somebody was interviewing him, and they asked Enzo Ferrari, ‘What is your favorite Ferrari?’ And he replied, he says, ‘The next one I build.’ And I’ve always followed that – I think that’s where I’m at. Of course, the Lamborghini is probably the number one.”