Oklahomans John and Hayden Groendyke of Groendyke Transport specialize in collecting Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg Classics. But a few years ago, Hayden was bitten by the Hot Rod bug. The result is this stunning Marmon V16 fenderless low-boy roadster, conceived as a father/son project. There was no overriding reason to build it…essentially, the Groendykes just wanted to see if it could be done.
Hayden started by contacting his father’s pal, Richard Atwell, who offered up a stack of rare 1931 Marmon parts: 145-inch wheelbase frame, front and rear axles, semi- elliptic springs, hydraulic shock absorbers, 16-inch drum brakes, steering box, steering column and steering wheel. The 3-speed synchromesh transmission, driveshaft and, of course, the magnificent V16 engine are also Marmon.
Marmon built only 390 V16 chassis between 1931 and 1933. The heart was obviously the engine. The very first production V16 in the world, the long-stroke Marmon has a 3.125” bore and 4.0” stroke for a displacement of 491 cubic inches. The aluminum block and cylinder heads were decades ahead of their time. With a single Stromberg DDR- 3 carburetor, this behemoth was rated with 200hp at 3,400 rpm and 400 ft/lbs of torque.
The Groendykes made only minimal mechanical changes. The stock cast aluminum intake manifold was modified to accept three matching Stromberg carburetors, and the exhaust manifolds were replaced by neat four-into-one headers on each side. The valve covers are new custom billet copies of stock Marmon valve covers, polished like the manifold and other engine bits. Ancillaries like the starter, water pump, oil pressure regulator, generator — even the polished spark plug wire tubes — are stock Marmon. The clutch and pressure-plate are new parts, machined by Marmon specialists in Lakeville, Ontario, expressly for this car.
The body is something else. The Groendykes started with stock Marmon doors, including hinges plus inner and outer door handles. The dashboard and instrument panel are also stock Marmon, equipped with stock Marmon gauges. The firewall, grille, headlights and tail lights are all Marmon, too. To tie these bits together, it was necessary to create a new body from scratch. Hand-formed steel over an oak framework, the body was worked on by a number of craftsmen. Among other details, the tops of the doors were closed over to eliminate the roll-up windows. It’s now a true roadster.
The Marmon frame was channeled into the body and the original windshield chopped about an inch. Finish bodywork and painting was done by Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, Okla. The color is Root Beer Brown. The frame and running gear are Gloss Black. The roll-and-pleat interior is done as much as possible in the style of the early-’30s, in tan leather. The top is totally custom. Both the interior and top were done by Dan Kirkpatrick Interiors. The cool 18” spoke wheels are one-piece billet machined to resemble stock Marmon wheels with custom hubcaps that carry the original Marmon V16 emblems. The tall blackwall tires are from Excelsior.
Dustin Whitney and Richard Crump from the Groendyke’s own shop did most of the mechanical work and put the Marmon together once the bodywork, paint and interior bits had been finished. The Marmon was finished just in time for the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show. It didn’t win America’s Most Beautiful Roadster, but it did generate more buzz than almost any other AMBR car. That’s the only time the car has ever been shown. Since then, it’s been stored in the Groendyke’s climate-controlled museum, and only driven five times for short distances.
The engine was completely rebuilt in November 2013 so that today, this incredible one-off Marmon V16 presents like new, top to bottom, inside and out. It has been totally sorted out, but since it is virtually unknown on the show car circuit, it’s ripe for the new owner to garner some trophies. According to Dustin Whitney, Hayden Groendyke said he wanted to build one Hot Rod in his life, and this is the one. If you want to buy one Hot Rod in your life, this could also be the one.
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