There are few things that impress us more than metal craftsmanship and we have never seen, nor will we probably ever see again (in person) the level of artistry and incredible talent that we saw this spring at Copacetic Metal Shaping in China Grove, North Carolina. Due to shoddy organizational skills, I had misplaced these photos and discovered them only yesterday, wanting to puke on my shoes after realizing that I’d not published them and shown you what is one of the most beautiful handcrafted cars that I had ever seen. What you are seeing here is the hand formation of a 1939 Porsche Type 64. Don’t feel bad if that doesn’t ring a bell for you because it didn’t for me, but the story of the actual cars built in the late 1930s is fascinating.
There were three of these cars built by Porsche in the late 1930s and they were intended for use in the Berlin to Rome road race. The cars were aluminum bodied and their shape was developed after wind tunnel testing, which was a highly advanced and not often used technique on automobiles in the late 1930s. Unfortunately the three cars did not lead the most happy of lives. There is one original car known to survive and as best we can tell a man in Austria owns that one. One of the car was destroyed early on in WWII and the third car was hidden by the Porsche family but later discovered by American soldiers who chopped the roof off of it and took it joy riding before turning it in to be scrapped. It is important to note this because it means that Dave Miller and his small band of craftsmen at Copacetic were basically working off of photos and illustrations to get their shapes and dimensions correct for the car. Bruce Cook is the man who commissioned the project and he’s a land speed racer. We’ll tell you why that’s awesome in a few paragraphs down the page.
We cannot tell you how beautiful and intricate the wooden buck that the metal is being fitted to is. The buck itself it an amazing piece of work that could be housed in any museum in North America as a piece of sculpture. The buck is a vital piece of the project because it allows Miller and his guys to check the fitment of each panel as they work on it and as you will see in the photos below, it helps them see “the whole picture” in terms of the way the car is turning out for lack of a better term.
There is literally not a straight panel on the car. The doors have very subtle and gentle curves, the doghouse style roof looks as though it would be used on top of a WWII fighter plane with its narrow profile and split windshield, the rear quarter panels alone would be a life accomplishment for regular guys like us but for Miller, they are just another piece of the puzzle. The more I stared at the car in wild eyed amazement the more I tried to figure out what the most impressive part of the machine was and I just stopped and decided all of it was so freaking incredible I’d be cheating the rest by picking a “best” part.
So now you are wondering what all is going to become of this car. Well, I’m nearly welled up with joy to tell you that this car is going to be raced in the land speed realm as part of the International VW 36hp Challenge. This 36hp challenge is exactly what you think it is with competitors far and wide running cars powered by engines based off of VW 36hp components. Yes, they are allowed to hot rod them to a degree, but not a whole lot. The car will be run at ECTA events and it will appear on the salt but likely will not be raced there after completion as the whole body is going to be bare aluminum and we’re not sure that the car owner (and hardcore 36hp VW challenge racer) Bruce Cook wants to give the salt a chance to do anything to detract from the amazing creation. The mark that the boys will be shooting for once the car is done will be 130mph which is apparently the standing record set decades ago in the 36hp Challenge Unlimited class. (There are different classes within the challenge that allow different levels of engine modification, etc).
The last thing I’ll tell you about before launching into a pile of photos below is the fact that Copacetic Metal Shaping is located inside an old VFW Hall, has no real exterior markings to let anyone know that it is there and the shop has a grand total of about two tools that it uses outside of the hands of its craftsmen. The huge English wheel that appears to date from around the Civial War era and a pullmax are basically it when it comes to “technology” inside the shop. The true magic here is all through the brains and hands of what can only be described as artists. Speaking only for myself, it is staggering to think of how one’s mind could actually look at a flat piece of aluminum and then understand how to make it into the shapes you see that form this race car. It is the best thing that some humans have the ability to do and that’s the creation of something from virtually nothing. The sinuous, flowing, dead sexy shapes of this car were nothing but plywood and flat sheets of metal before the project began and now they are one of the most drop dead gorgeous creations we have ever laid eyes on.
Since these photos were taken, the car is now sitting on its wheels and chassis and is about 80-90% done. There’s a link at the bottom of the page where you can see the most updated photos from the project. THIS is 100% BangShift approved artistry!
CLICK HERE to see the latest photos of this amazing car