Chuck Redding’s “MonzaRod” Really Cool At Any Speed

Chuck Redding Sr. is a lifelong automotive enthusiast, with a passion for building custom street rods. His builds exceed what is considered to be normal or typical, and tend to lean more to the unique or different. His latest creation, the MonzaRod, without doubt, is certainly unique, and to say it’s different would be an understatement. A better description of Redding’s one-of-a-kind street rod can be summarized with a four-word question, “How cool is this?”

DSC_0194Originally from Waltham, Massachusetts, Redding now resides in Saint Petersburg, Florida. For the past 32 years, Redding, along with his son, Chuck Jr. have owned and operated Redding’s Auto Service & Sales, just a few miles northwest of downtown Saint Petersburg. The shop is a full service, general repair center and surprisingly enough, other than Redding’s personal projects, very few street rods ever roll in the door.

“We don’t really work on rods here in the shop.” Redding offered. “Our primary focus is on general repair, cars, light trucks, we can even accommodate RV’s and medium-duty trucks, but building hot rods is strictly my hobby.”

DSC_0071Redding directly credits his Dad with getting him started on his automotive addiction. Growing up, Redding was what you might consider a typical gearhead-in-training. He spent his fair share of time working on the neighborhood go-karts, mini-bikes, and the occasional dirt bike. Redding undertook his first “rod project” when he was just 12 years old.

Redding’s father, a machinist by trade, had found a 1949 Plymouth coupe that was in okay condition, but the motor wouldn’t run. Having limited mechanical experience, dear old Dad pulled the car home and announced to his son, “If you can get it running, you can drive it around in the yard.” With a smile on his face, and a deep hearty laugh, Redding uttered, “I never did get that thing running.”

Five years later, when Redding reached 17 years of age he got another chance to work on a rod project, “I found this 1928 Ford in this man’s yard, it was disassembled but it was all there.” Redding remembers. “I made a deal with the guy, towed the car back home, and put it in the garage. I figured I could have it together in a few months.”

Building hot rods is strictly my hobby!                    – Chuck Redding

As the saying goes, “the best laid plans” a few months quickly came and went, and there was very little progress made on the car, a few months stretched into nearly a year when Dad gave his son a choice, either finish the thing and get it out of his garage or, the elder Redding would get it out of his garage himself.

As fate would have it, Redding’s Dad had the partially completed rod towed to the new owner’s garage.

DSC_0201“I was really disappointed when Dad sold the car, but it was one of those valuable lessons in life that we all have to learn.” Redding offered. As you might conclude, Redding’s first two forays into rod building didn’t work out exactly as planned. As it always does, time brings changes, and Redding’s rod building expertise is no exception to this everlasting rule of life.

Over the years Redding estimates he has owned over 25 automobiles, many built or modified by his own hand, muscle cars and street rods have always been his vehicles of choice. After working up a number of tri-five Chevys, and building several typical street rods, Redding decided it was time to do something different.

The poly-carbon valve covers and chear HEI distributor cap adds a finishing touch to Redding's stroker

Different, by definition, reads; Not the same as something or somebody else; Separate or distinct from another; contrary to norms or expectations. Redding’s latest creation, the MonzaRod, certainly falls within this definition.

The MonzaRod started life as a direct result of what might be considered a brainstorming session between Redding and long time friend, and fellow motor head, Rick Arbo. “Rick and I were talking about building something crazy.” Redding recalled. “A customer had come by the shop and said he had a couple old Corvairs in his back yard and wanted to get rid of them, and that started the whole process.” Redding grinned.

The two friends started throwing ideas back and forth about what they could do with a couple of old Corvairs. Redding recollected, “We thought about building a frame under the uni-body and dropping a blown small block in the front of the car where the trunk normally would be. We even considered cutting the cars in half and welding the two front sections together so when you saw it on the street, you wouldn’t know if it was coming, or going.”

Best Selling Model

The Chevrolet Corvair was the only American-designed, mass-produced passenger car to feature a rear-mounted, aluminum air-cooled, 140 cu in horizontally opposed, six cylinder engine.

The car was intended to compete with the VW Beetle, Ford Falcon, Studebaker Lark and the Rambler American.

Although the car received a great deal of negative reviews concerning the first generation swing axle rear suspension, and was sharply criticized in Ralph Nader’s book, “Unsafe at any speed” the car proved to be one of the best selling vehicles in the compact market exceeding over 200,000 units per model year.

Arbo had an idea floating around in his head about shortening the car down to just the driver’s compartment, while still maintaining the overall body lines of the car. Not really sure what this might look like, Arbo took several Corvair Photos and started cutting out sections of the car from both the front and the rear, he then taped the photo back together to get a better idea of what it would look like. The two friends agreed on the concept, and the build began shortly thereafter. A short nine months later, the two friends drove the car out of Redding’s shop.

The MonzaRod sits on a hand fabricated, 2×4-inch tube steel, ladder style frame. Redding constructed the frame on the floor of his shop, “I took some dimensions from a custom frame for a 1932 Roadster, and pretty much just cloned the thing, I don’t have a jig here in the shop, so I did everything on the floor, lay out, welding, everything.” Redding stated.

The all chrome, four-inch drop, front suspension came from TCI in Ontario, California. The rear suspension is a slightly modified GM coil over system that was originally intended for use in the Chevrolet S-10 series pickup truck. Brakes are chrome, duel-piston Wilwood discs on the front, with 10-inch GM drum and shoe on the rear.

DSC_0192The engine in the MonzaRod is a GM based, 383 steel block stroked motor with forged crankshaft, steel connecting rods and flat top steel pistons. A set of high performance, Summit Racing equipment aluminum heads, an Edelbrock Endurashine intake with a 650 cfm Edelbrock Thunder Series carburetor and a Comp Cam roller system comprise the top side of Redding’s stroker.

Redding also installed PRW aluminum roller rockers under a set of poly-carbon, Clearvue Concepts valve covers. An HEI clear distributor cap and rotor add a really cool visual effect at night. The low profile, duel plenum Spectre air intake system adds a unique and finishing touch to this nearly 400 hp beast.

DSC_0024The engine exhausts thru a set of 2 ¼-inch, stainless steel Spirit headers, with extensions and collectors. The motor is coupled to a GM Turbo-Hydramatic TH400 automatic transmission with a 32 inch Lokar shifter. The horses are transfer to the ground with a 3:73 rear gear. The MonzaRod rides on reproduction American Racing Wheels wrapped with 165-60×15 Continental rubber on the front, and 165-60×15 Cooper Cobras on the rear.

DSC_0206The body of the MonzaRod was a project in itself. Redding and Arbo measured out 12 inches from the windshield and cut the entire front end of the car off at that point. They then cut the first 12-inches off the front of the car, and moved the very front section of the car back to the first cut. “We found that as you moved forward on the car, it narrowed up almost three-inches, so when we started putting it back together, it was way off,” Redding offered.

Redding and Arbo fabricated the necessary metal pieces to successfully bring the two body panels together. “We spent a lot of time with the metal work.” Arbo recalled. “After we had the front back together, we had to do the same thing to the rear of the car.” Once the two men had the body back together and ready for paint, they sent it to Belden’s Auto Body just down the street from Redding’s shop for the sand beige, millennium jade green paint. All of the exterior chrome body trim came from California Corvairs.

The interior is the handy work of Jimmy Long at J&L Interiors in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Jimmy operates a small shop and works by referral only. The carpet, door panels, and modified, white leather, Ford Mustang seats, all came out of Long’s shop. The MonzaRod features power windows, tilt steering wheel, and chrome instrument panel with a Dolphin gauge package.

DSC_0191When all was said and done, Redding certainly accomplished his goal of building something unique and different. Those that know him best say there will probably be other odd looking hot rods come out of the shop. Redding’s son Chuck Jr. shook his head and related, “Sometimes the old man comes up with some pretty crazy ideas, sometimes they even work.”

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About the author

Chuck Green

As a professional writer, and photographer Chuck has always had an affliction for anything related to motorsports. Over the years he worked events from local short tracks to the high profile series of NASCAR, Indy Car, IHRA, and NHRA.
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