A classic hits the road again
Dave Dunbar Jr. is like a big kid with a brand new toy. His smile is proof enough he will be playing with this toy for a very, very long time.
Dunbar has restored — and modified — a 1938 Ford Roadster. The car, which now sports an “Intense Blue” paint job, was previously owned by his father, the late Dave Dunbar Sr.
“The car was originally owned by Ford Robinson, who used to race in the 1940s and ’50s,” said Dunbar.
“My dad bought the car from Ford in 1952. Ford Robinson was killed during a Mexican-American road race in, I think, 1954. My dad paid $250 for the car.”
Dunbar’s dad rebuilt the car and began racing it in 1954 with the Sports Car Club of America. He participated in the C-modified class. The car contained a 322 Buick Nailhead motor and was street-legal. Dave Sr. named the car the “Fubar Special.” He went on to win the SCCA Pacific Points Championship in 1964. Dave Jr. has his dad’s silver cup trophy.
Dunbar, now a counselor at China Spring Youth Camp, worked eight and one-half years with the Carson City Sheriff’s Department. Since he was 8 years old, Dunbar has wanted to ride in the car. He ached for the day he would get the opportunity.
“I used to sit in it and pretend I was driving it. One day, when it was my turn to get a ride, my sister pushed me out of the way and jumped in the car.
“My dad took her out for a ride and a few minutes later came back — in a hurry — and parked the car behind the house. I wondered what was going on. Pretty soon, a sheriff’s deputy came looking for him.”
Dave Sr. blew the car’s engine in 1969. After sitting for years and trying to get his dad interested in the restoration process, fate intervened. Dave’s father was killed in a private plane crash in Yerington in November 1998.
“I got the car not on the best of terms, but out of bad comes good.”
Dunbar has spent the past three years and about $30,000 rebuilding the classic Ford. Most of the expense is from the hand-molded body work. It now has a 302 Ford, 347 stroker engine with aluminum heads and roller cams in a 5-speed. For those not car-savvy, it pretty much adds up to 475-horsepower in a street-legal car, and it can go fast.
“This is not your traditional ’38 Roadster racer,” Dunbar says of the restored vehicle, which carries the personalized license plate, “OLRACER.”
Dunbar said he originally rebuilt the last motor but considering availability of parts, decided it would be better to have more modern equipment. The car has full safety equipment, and a raised roll bar to accommodate Dunbar’s height.
“My friend and mentor, Roger Steyn, a Le Mans racer and Ford mechanic, has helped me tremendously. He did the set-up on the car, suspension for road racing and has clued me in to how to race it.
“I used to drag race in the ’80s, but road racing is a whole different scheme. And this car’s amazingly quick. This is the fastest darn thing — it’s a rocket. It really boogies.”
Eric Basa at VCM Collision Center in Carson City did the body work, ABC Sheet Metal did the sheet metal work and Great Basin Glass donated the glass for the windshield. The safety roll bar was designed by Heinz Fabrication.
Dunbar will make his racing debut June 29 at Thunder Hill race track near Chico, Calif., in the SCCA Vintage division. He will race two or three races this year with SCCA and a couple with the National Auto Sports Association. He’s also looking for a few sponsors to help pay expenses along the way.
“It costs about $400 just to get into a race, plus tires, fuel and maintenance.
“I’ve followed all safety rules in rebuilding the car for racing — lined fuel cell, roll bar, safety harnesses (it’s a two-seater) and made it all modern-day technology as far as the safety equipment goes.”
It’s been a dream of Dunbar’s for 35 years to drive the Fubar Special. And like he says, there is no other car in the world like it.
“If Dad were alive, he’d love it,” Dunbar said of the car’s completion.
“I know he’s looking in on it, and he likes it. He’s giving me a thumb’s up.”
And waving a green flag.
YOU CAN HELP
What: Sponsorship on the Fubar Special
E-mail to NVBigDawg@aol.com