Lifestyle

Rob Greiner and his 1960s Slingshot dragster and (background) his1952 Ford pick-up.

by
May 19, 2017

Rob Greiner and his 1960s Slingshot dragster and (background) his 1952 Ford pick-up.

THE OWNER

Rob Greiner is the president of Rich River Rod and Custom Club which champions the hot rod scene.

Rob’s love of modified vehicles started at an early age.

His first car was a 1926 Chev which he owned as a 14-year-old.

‘‘We bought it off a neighbour and drove it around everywhere,’’ Rob said.

‘‘That started me wanting to do up a hot rod but I never had the time to do it with the farm and trucks and then the family came along.

‘‘It wasn’t until I was 50 that I was able to do up the 1952 Ford pick-up.

‘‘That’s been on the road for 14 years now. I’ve taken it to Perth, Queensland and Tassie.

‘‘That was built from bits and pieces. It was a cheap car to build.

‘‘I bought an LTD Ford for $600 and it had the driveline in that. It’s got a HT Holden front end and 351 Cleveland in it and it drives absolutely beautifully.’’

Rob is originally off a farm north of Tongala and carted livestock for a living.

He moved to the Echuca area in 1992 seeking better career prospects for his kids.

‘‘I wanted to stay in the Deakin Shire because dad was on the shire for 30 odd years and his father was too,’’ Rob said.

‘‘So we wanted to stay in Deakin Shire but now that’s all been gobbled up unfortunately.

‘‘That’s another story but it’s been a good move here for us.’’

Rob has owned a number of cars throughout his life.

He had a HQ Monaro when he was married. ‘‘I wish I still had it,’’ he said.

‘‘It was just the basic model but it was a nice car. Then the kids came along and there was no room,’’ he said, switching over to the more family friendly vehicles.

The best cars he has owned were a couple of Peugeots.

‘‘It was a magic car. They were beautiful to drive.

‘‘I had a Peugeot station wagon which I carted the under 14 cricket team around in. Ten kids fitted in it.’’

THE CAR

Rob’s version of a 1960s Slingshot dragster is dear to his heart in more ways than one.

‘‘It’s pretty basic,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s got a little Chrysler Hemi-6 in it with a Ford diff.’’

The entire vehicle cost about $1000 to put together.

‘‘A few club members have donated bits and things so a number of people within the club have put in a bit of effort.

‘‘A lot of the club members have put their hand up to have a drive in it.

‘‘What you see is just a couple of lengths of pipe and a couple of sheets of tin plate. It’s all home built.

‘‘I just like tinkering with things and making things.’’

The dragster was built within 12 months with Rob and others working on and off on the project.

Although it is yet to be test driven, Rob says the dragster does run.

‘‘It’s close to it (going for a drive). There’s a seatbelt harness to go in it and a few other safety things.

‘‘We had a few guys from the club come over on Australia Day to start it up.

‘‘They arrived at 7am and were still here at 11am.’’

The plan is to take the dragster out for a run on the Heathcote dragway, possibly in August.

Even though the dragster is yet to be driven, Rob estimates it should be capable of an 11 to 12-second quarter-mile.

‘‘Once we tune it up it could go a bit faster than that.

‘‘These days you see professional teams with dragsters that can do five-second runs but they put a lot of money in them.

‘‘The low cost of this makes it a bit of fun.’’

It runs on petrol and Rob welded up all the carburetor and exhaust manifolds and welded it all up for his birthday which was a fitting way to celebrate the big day.

WHERE DID YOUR

CAR COME FROM?

‘‘I had a motor sitting in an old ute,’’ Rob said.

‘‘I sat the motor on the bench and built it around that. And that’s what I had to start with.’’

Rob built the dragster as a way of coping with the death of his son Warren from a heart attack three years ago.

Warren was only 40 at the time and his death came as a shock to the family.

‘‘I built the dragster as therapy, to keep the mind active,’’ Rob said.

‘‘Once you lose somebody it can be all consuming.

‘‘I built it to have a bit of fun and make a bit of noise.

‘‘It’s the enjoyment of doing it. It doesn’t matter to me how fast or slow it goes.’’

WHAT DO YOU LIKE

MOST ABOUT THE CAR?

‘‘Just the way it looks. It looks grouse. It looks terrific.

‘‘That’s what they used to be like in the 1960s when they started drag racing.

‘‘The weirdest part is I had to put the oil filter through the frame. I didn’t have any elbows to put it anywhere else.’’

There are billiard balls on the gear sticks and the lever brake is authentic to the 1960s dragsters.

Even though he’s a fan of the dragsters, Rob admits he’s never had a run down a dragstrip.

‘‘Speed has never interested me at all,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s more the history of it. I enjoyed building it.’’

Rob can’t pinpoint exactly why he loves the 1960s drag racing scene, except to say it was just the era he grew up in.

‘‘I loved the way they look, the way they drove. They just looked mean with the big wheels on the back and the skinny motorbike wheels on the front of them,’’ an accessory Rob hopes to add to his own model.

‘‘I take it to a show ‘n’ shine and someone puts in a couple of dollars donation for a kid — or an adult — to sit in it and have their photo taken.

‘‘To see the smiles on the faces — that’s Christmas for me.

‘‘We had an engineering night and we put a sign on it that said ‘Hop in and dream’ and that’s what it is for me.’’

SO WHAT’S YOUR

PERFECT CAR?

The orange 1952 Ford pick-up Rob built from the ground up.

‘‘That’s my dream car,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m quite happy with that.

‘‘I don’t need anything else. I’m not into new cars.

AND WHAT’S NEXT?

‘‘I’d like to do a Rat rod based on a 1946 Chev truck cabin.

‘‘I’ve got all the parts here for it but whether it gets done or not I don’t know.’’

That’s the long term vision but the more immediate project is the Rich River Rod and Custom Club’s Big Morning Tea Cancer Council fundraiser on Sunday.

The event at Old Time Auto Repairs in Hume St is putting on a cuppa for motoring enthusiasts and their families and anyone else who wants to pop in for a worthy cause.

‘‘We want to make it a bit of fun for anyone who wants to drop in and join us for a morning ‘smoko’ and if they want to stay a bit longer we’ll put a sausage sizzle on,’’ Rob said.

‘‘We’ve been given a lot of stuff to auction and give away — Moama RSL, Shell Oil and local bakeries have all donated.

‘‘And our club will put in $500 on top of whatever is raised on the day. It’s all going to cancer research.’’

‘‘There’ll be three trophy-winning cars on display as well as the slingshot dragster for anyone who wants to have their photo taken in it.

‘‘It’s a good location and the club would like to thank Clive Polidano of Old Time Auto Repairs for allowing us to be there.’’

The Big Morning Tea starts at 9am.

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