Bob Wirffel's Airport Hangar
Van Nuys, CA
All this and more from one simple idea. Bob Wirffel drove a truck when he was a younger man, and the trucking company--miffed that its vehicles were being damaged in accidents while going around corners--decided to charge the drivers if they banged up any sheetmetal. Bob created a sign that said "Caution, This Vehicle Makes Wide Right Turns," hung it on the back of his truck and--bingo!--no accidents. It worked so well that he started a company, J.V.R. Safe-T-Signal Inc., that is now in its 25th year making variations on that sign. You see them all over the country. Next time you're behind a semi, look for the wide-turn sign and think of Bob. Then envy his simple idea.
A. This is a Porsche. You couldn't care less.
B. The teal-green '56 Chevy sedan would seem to be a reflection of Bob's racing days. Around the time he graduated from high school in 1966, he was competing at the San Fernando dragstrip as well as at Orange County, Lions, and Bakersfield. The '56 is powered by a 383 with a B&M blower under a 750-cfm Holley double-pumper. The small-block is fired by an MSD ignition and is mated to a Muncie four-speed. The limited-slip Ford 9-inch turns Moser Engineering axles and fat Hoosiers at the rear.
C. Bob bought the beige 4x4 in 1971 as a wreck. It was a two-wheel-drive Stepside with a six-cylinder and a three-speed and was the truck he had when he started dating his now-wife Virginia in 1972. He converted it to 4WD with a 3/4-ton front axle and a 1-ton rear, and he slipped in a 383 with a TH400 tranny. "It gets about 8 miles per gallon whether it's going forward, backward, or sitting still," says Bob, who earned a degree in automotive engineering at Cal State Los Angeles in 1975.
D. Bob had the '72 Chevy street truck completely redone after he bought it. It was painted bright fire-engine red at a 1-Day Paint & Body center by, as a matter of fact, a fireman. Bob then finished it with a 350/350 combo that turns 3.73:1 gears in a Posi rearend.
E. The '57 is another sweet little cruiser. The PPG Red paint is a special mix and complements the red interior. Motivation comes from a 468ci big-block with a 700-R4 trans. The Ford 9-inch has 3.73:1 gears driving Moser Engineering axles. Bob originally planned to drive the car on a Hot Rod Power Tour(tm), so it's equipped with A/C, power steering, and a '68 Camaro front clip with disc brakes. He's never had time to make that cross-country trek, but we reminded him that the Hot Rod guys still do it every year.
F. This car was built by England-based Auto Kraft in the '80s using the original body bucks, then imported into the U.S. as an AC Mark IV. It was sold at Galpin Ford in Los Angeles in 1986 for $78,000. Bob picked it up in 1994 for $30,000 at an IRS auction after it had been seized from the original owner. The aluminum body rests on a birdcage frame. It's powered by a 351 Windsor hooked to a five-speed, and the Halibrand wheels are fitted with true knock-off hubs.