Take One Unusual Car, add a powerful late model running gear, subtly modify the body and add a set of Kahn RS-C wheels...


This is exactly what Dave Rothwell did.


The man himself is gifted with not just an intricate ability to visualise a car, but the skills to carry that through to a completed vehicle.


Dave is up there with Chip Foose and Troy Trepanier in this regard, yet where those two names have become worldwide names, brands even, Dave works away quietly on his own, producing exquisite, customised cars.


One of his most recent mind-bending creations started with a ‘phone call from a friend, Steve Roberts: “Alright Dave, there’s a car on eBay you’ve got to see.”
The car was advertised as a 1939 Hanomag, which meant nothing to Dave but he’s a sucker for a split back window and there were some lines on the car that intrigued him.


For those that are interested, here’s a quick primer on the company that built it: Hanomag is a truncation of Hannoversche Maschinenbau AG, a German manufacturing company dating back to 1835 that built farm machinery, steam trains and tractors before, in the early 1920’s, turning to automobiles.


They experimented widely with technological advances, including independent suspension, aerodynamics and both front and rear-engined layouts and, in 1939, launched the radical new 1.3 model, of which Dave’s car here is one of just 9,187 built.


Production lasted less than one year as, when war broke out on 1 September, Hanomag moved into making military vehicles for the German war effort, including the hugely successful Hanomag half-track troop carrier.


Too Far Gone


Anyway, back to the story. “It was in really, really bad condition,” Dave recalls, “As if it had been a £50 car. As it was, I had to give nearly four grand for it, but I just had to have it.”


The story goes the car had been in a museum, but had been bought to restore and the exterior paint stripped, then left outside on a farm near Blackpool.


“It was so bad I had to have the body acid dipped, and when I got it back the floor and chassis were too far gone to do anything with,” said Dave.


“I’ve had people say to me since I’ve finished it that I’ve ruined a rare car by not hot rodding it, but it really was the only way to make this car. If I’d tried to restore it, I’d still be welding the floors.”


Believe it or not, David made no body modifications at all. The lights have been changed front and rear, and the boot lid has been narrowed a couple of inches each side so it lines up with the edges of the split rear window and has lost its external hinges.


“I don’t know if this car was used in the war or not, but there was some terrible welding in the roof where it had holes cut and something fitted in the past. I had to star cut it with eight slices, then get the centre to sit down and weld it all back up again. Honestly, this car was a right state,” Dave recalls grimly.


Kahn RS-C Wheels


With any ground up build like this; David had to choose the wheels and tyres at the beginning of this project. He chose some 20” and 22” Kahn RS-C wheels, wrapped in ultra low profile 30 series tyres.


Dave particularly liked the depth of the rear wings and the way they sweep round the wheels. Obviously, dropping the car and adding 20 and 22-inch rims only helped accentuate the lines of the car.


There’s nothing quite like the shape of 1930’s European cars, when manufacturers first started experimenting with aerodynamics


Furthermore, in place of the original 32bhp, 1,299cc, short-stroke four is a 2,793cc, DOHC, 24V six from a ’91-’98 model year E36 328i. These motors made 190bhp and 210ft.lbs of torque with a dual cat exhaust system, which was enough for 150mph and 0-60 of 6.9 seconds.


Feel free to browse the images.