Most of us remember the intimate details of one’s first love. To a lesser degree, the people reading these pages will recall the details of the first hot rod they ever saw. One of the first that I saw up close was Rod Foote’s channelled ’32 roadster. I was trudging home from Yeronga High School in 1963, and glanced through the battens of a high set Queenslander style house, and spied the low slung beauty, reposing in the dappled sunlight.

A couple of years later I discovered that Rod Foote was a member of the Roadstars Hot Rod Club; the first club in the State, the organisers of the first hot rod show, and a club whose many members were instrumental in the formation of other clubs and related organisations. What I didn’t know at the time was that on the north side of Brisbane there was another enthusiast with a channelled ’32, fitted with a supercharged flathead; the owner was a Ford mechanic named David Bowden. David was very fond of both the Rod Foote ‘32, and another pivotal deuce from the Roadstars, Gary Wright’s channelled roadster.

The next time I saw the Rod Foote roadster was when John Cowling owned it during the eighties. It had changed a little, and was shown in a few contemporary magazines. It was advertised for sale in the nineties, and then it disappeared again for many years.

In fact, the roadster had been sold to David Bowden, who was very excited about becoming the owner of this signature vehicle from his formative years. To put that excitement into perspective, David Bowden has amassed one of the most interesting collections of Australia’s motor racing history, and the ’32 is his favourite. The Bowden Collection is made all the more interesting by the fact that David had participated, in one degree or another, in the times and events that these fascinating muscle cars were involved in. Most of the cars in the collection were steeped in racing history, and either expertly restored, or completely original – right down to the scrutineer’s stickers on the windscreens of some of the cars.

Back to the deuce - Rod provided details during the restoration, and the result is faithful to the original. The interior is about to be done, and then there is a the possibility of a trip to Pebble Beach.
The collection is in Buderim, Queensland, and various links to the cars shown here will take you to Bowden's web site, where more details are available.

Kyren & Sue O'Loan are the current custodians of this '26 Essex sedan which was owned by the Murray brothers; foundation members of the Roadstars Hot Rod Club. The Essex is recognised as a stalwart wherever it goes.

John Davies cruises in his recently imported '30 coupe. JD will sell the coupe if you ask him nicely.

Ford Falcon GTs all - this line up is a Phase 1, 2, 3 & Phase 4. Each represents the pinnacle of Ford's production racing effort for the various models shown.

The British made Allard used a state of the art Ford V8, in 1951, and a split I-beam front axle that was way ahead of its time. Allards competed successfully all over the world.

Dan Bowden, son of David, delivers his expert, incisive and entertaining monologue, describing the incidents that most fans were unaware of.

There are no replicas or cheap knock-offs here - the red Cobra is a street registered version with wires, the green Cobra is a race only model, with Halibrands, wider flares etc. The GT40 is the first street registered version of the Ferrari beating racer -the difference being; it has a clock.

Rod Foote takes the wheel of the car that he built in the late 50s, alongside the man whose own deuce was similarly channeled, David Bowden. David's staff and contractors have taken years to restore the roadster, and the look on Rod's face tells us how successful they were.

Hot rods start to fill the car park in the grounds of the collection. The '40 coupe is owned & driven by Gary Strathearn; Alan Tronc is the passenger.

Inside the collection's main building, the rows of racers are grouped by marquee; in this case we see a bunch of (GM) Holden Toranas - these were driven by the late Peter Brock.

The Phase 4 was never released - the hysterical press alarmed Federal politicians into threatening cancellation of fleet orders for Ford, and the model was dropped.

While later Allards used Cadillac or Chrysler hemis, this model used a Ford flatty -though this one has the legendary Ardun OHV conversion.

Kevin Bartlett campaigned this Camaro initially with drum brakes on the rear, and was very competitive. Kevin now assists in the workshop, and sometimes has to drive the GT40. Poor KB.

Many of the muscle cars are presented just as they appeared on the day of their last road race. Both the Galaxie & the Nova have had a colour change though, and represent a point in time that they were best known for.

Channeled, fitted with hand made nerf bars, and hand made alloy hood, the overall aesthetic is that of 1950s era styling. Note the windshield; the frame and posts are also hand made, as was the custom back in the day.

The Roadstars ceased to be a club many years ago, but the bonds of affection are still there, as this group shot shows. The 3 cars are all originals too.

John Davies and Gary Wright pull out in their new imports - both '30 coupes, they show just how far apart the same model can be developed.

The late John Anderson was a Roadstars member, and campaigned his blue, flatty powered '32 roadster at the strip and shows for years. John Parker now owns it and fully appreciates the historical significance of his ride.

Allan Moffat drove this Kar Kraft built Boss 302 Mustang to a huge number of wins, in the early seventies. His career started in a Lotus Cortina that is also in the collection.

Norm Beechey's350 Monaro uses a Moon manifold to mount a brace of side draft Weber carbs.

Accreditation: The Editor
Advertisements Bayside Toowoomba Lilow