Timmis-Ford
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Story and photo by Bill Vance

Most enthusiasts get hooked on a particular car in their youth, although most never realize the dream of ownership, let alone building them. One who did both was Andrew Timmis of Victoria, B.C.

As a teenage car enthusiast Andrew fell in love with the 1934 Ford Roadster.It was an interesting and attractive vehicle. In 1932 Henry Ford I had scooped the industry by bringing V-8 power to the low-priced field. The Ford V-8 became a reliable and spirited engine, the darling of the hot rod set.

For 1934, Ford modernized the styling with a straight rather than curved bar grille, and a new hood. Horsepower was boosted from the original 65 to 85, thanks in part to a Stromberg dual-throat carburetor.

This made the Ford a pretty quick car. Clyde Barrow of the infamous bank robbing team of Bonnie and Clyde, wrote Henry Ford to say “… what a dandy car you make.” He said he drove Fords exclusively “… when I could get away with one.” Bonnie and Clyde died in a bullet-riddled ’34 Ford, victims of a sheriff’s ambush.

Andrew Timmis was also enthralled with the 1934 Ford, but in a different way. In 1957 at the age of 19 Andrew Timmis purchased a 1934 Ford Roadster. Finding studies at the University of Victoria boring, he was anxious to escape the halls of academe.

Andrew was aware that others, such as Brooks Stevens of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were building replicars. Why not, he thought, build a “new” 1934 Ford. There were bound to be other people who would like to own one of these quick, stylish roadsters.

With little more than his Ford and an idea, Andrew left university and entered the automobile business. His capitalization was in the hundreds of dollars, not millions. While wanting to retain as much authenticity as possible, he recognized that significant mechanical improvements could be made without sacrificing much originality. To register the car as a 1934 model, it had to have a ’34 frame, which meant some junkyard scrounging.

Using his own ’34, Andrew made a set of moulds for the glass fibre body. He was an impeccable craftsman, and wanted his Timmis-Fords to be indistinguishable from new ’34s.

Timmis replaced the original drivetrain with a combination of ’40s and ’50s Ford components such as a transmission from a late ’40s truck and a rear axle from the early ’50s Ford car. This necessitated replacing the rear transverse leaf “buggy springs” with longitudinal leaf springs, which gave an improved ride.

The engine, a Ford flathead V-8 from the late ’40s to early ’50s, looked similar to the original, but was better. These were still in industrial use, and were available remanufactured from the Ford Motor Co. of Canada.

It developed 125 horsepower out of its 3.9 litres (239.4 cu in.) rather than the 85 of the original 3.6 litre (221 cu in.) unit. Andrew says this extra power pushes the 1,043 kg (2,300 lb) roadster to a top speed of approximately 161 km/h (100 mph).

Wheels are 16-inch rather than the original 17, mostly because Timmis found a supply of 6.00-16 tube-type tires in an old Firestone warehouse in California. For safety he fitted hydraulic brakes from late ’40s Fords.

Timmis amassed enough capital to build a batch of 10 cars. Working with a crew that varied from four to six, the young entrepreneur turned out his first car in 1968. Timmis worked right along with his staff presiding over every facet of production from body building, to top construction, to grille reconditioning (his trademark is a painted grille rather than the original chrome).

As expected, some ’34 Ford components were virtually impossible to obtain. Suppliers of new or remanufactured parts were found in such unexpected places as Taiwan, New Zealand and California. Many items like floorpans, firewalls, bumpers, running boards and doors were fabricated by the talented crew right in their little factory.

Following the first 10 cars, Timmis made a second run of 10 Timmis-Fords. Another one was constructed in 1989. Few remained in Canada; most went to the U.S. or Europe.

Andrew Timmis, now a dealer in quality used cars in Victoria, sold Timmis-Fords with the right of first refusal should the owner wish to sell. This results in that most Timmis-Fords came back home where they were reconditioned before being re-sold.

This was a labour of love. With only 21 cars built in about as many years, Timmis could hardly be counted among the multi-millionaire motor magnates. But then wealth doesn’t seem to drive Andrew Timmis. He sees the car is an artifact, an art object that has a spirit and comes alive when it is driven.

In addition to their spirit, Timmis-Fords also have about 1,000 hours of labour in them, which is why new ones were in the $70,000 range. But they are exclusive; there probably won’t be any more built. “It’s getting harder and harder to find the parts,” says Andrew.

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