Lonnie Gilbertson, has been famous on building and driving street rods, race cars and bikes since he was old enough to squeeze glue from a tube.About 12 years ago he fulfilled another dream and got his pilots license. Through work and his love of airplanes he became acquainted with Dean Zinter.
Dean owns a 172 Cessna that he completely restored when it was time to paint the plane he wanted something better than white with your color stripe here. Dean and Lonnie have spent many hours flying to these shows and hanging around with Military Flyboys. Dean also, spent many hours driving Lonnie’s Hot Rods and in turn Lonnie spends time flying Dean’s airplane.
One day Dean sends Lonnie an e-mail of an e-bay ad. Some guy had a Rat Rod done up with a military theme. It had a chopped pickup cab and on the doors was painted the shark jaws of the Flying Tigers. In a follow up phone call with Lonnie Dean was talking about how cool it would be to have a car like that.
Lonnie said that while the guy did a good job, he missed the target. To begin with the motor was wrong, Flying Tigers (P-40’s) had V-12’s and the shark jaw should be at the front.
For an aircraft look Lonnie chooses to use 72 fin Buick aluminum brake drums on both ends of the car. He used 48 Ford front and 65 Buick Rivera rear brakes to make it work. With the car on its feet the top was chopped 4” by Lonnie with the help of a friend, Gary Scrutton. Next Lonnie mounted a 32 Ford grill shell and chopped it 2”. The car was shaping up.
However, it needed a prop hub to look like an airplane. A 50 Studebaker billet nose was chosen, this was molded into the duce shell by Paul Gilbert. The aircraft theme was starting to show. Next it needed exhaust. This was formed by Lonnie and John Keller. Lonnie crafted baffles and inserted 3 in each pipe to create baby chambered mufflers.
Marty Strode created the hand made hood, it was the longest hood he had ever built, 55” long at the shortest point. Ron Wagner built the air scoops to look like the ones on a P-40. Lonnie and Dean installed the scoops with real aircraft rivets for the right look.
Steve Bradley, a musician friend of Lonnie’s, did the art work and sized the nose of a P-40 shark jaw into the size needed for the gauges. For instruments Lonnie went online with Auto Loc, where you can design your own gauge faces and Auto Loc will fit them into the gauges.