Current owner Andy “Shortman” Rios has been working hard the last 2yrs at restoring the old Austin Speed Shop wagon back to its former A.H.R.A. glory days.
Graham Sonnenberg owner of the new Elroy Cafe that is next to where the new F1 site will be- theelroycafe.com, keeps in touch with the guys over at the new Austin Speed Shop and thought it would be nice to branch the old with the new this year by having the car on display at the Lone Star Roundup and the A.S.S. party 2011.
Andy Rios, has been a long time Austin hotrodder, he once drove his first car (hot rodded 1940 Ford convert.) to Fulmore middle school for the first time and got sent home for doing it. He then went on to William B. Travis high school, joined up with the rest of the Austin hot rodders and still lives to this day in one of the oldest neighborhoods known for the hand full of famous drag racers that in some cases lived just a walking distance away from each other. They were all good friends of August Hartkopf and raced right along with him and hung out at the old Austin Speed Shop of the 1960s just a few streets away on Barton Springs. You can see some of the guys standing in the photo above next to August. Unlike most of us, Andy is a true hot rodder even after all these years, he has managed to keep most of his collection of cars and nostalgic speed parts and one very special car that is receiving a lot of attention these days for its name.
The Austin Speed Shop -Hands Hauler Too. A speed shop name that hasn’t been Heard of in more than 30 years until now. The name has resurfaced as a new shop in town with no relation to the old one but deserves good credit for being able to carry the popularity that the old shop once did when the name was owned by the legendary Texas drag racer August “Hands” Hartkopf. The new owner is none other than the world famous -Jesse James of West Coast Choppers in Cali. Andy Rios, gives details that he has been in possession of the wagon going back to the early 1970s just after it had been decommissioned from drag racing, the purchase was for just a few hundred dollars -Who would of thought that some day it would become such a famous Austin race car. As he says, it didn’t have the engine and many of the other components from when it was a drag race only car.
The first reconstruction of the wagon in the 1970s was with a warmed over tunnel rammed Chevy small block 292, Muncie 4 speed, and Pontiac rear w/ 5:38’s. Something else you may also notice, he replaced the panel windows with glass and had the wagon painted green. It served him as daily transportation for many years up until the early 80s when he parked it. It has always been a daily street driven car for him and it will remain that way and reason why people have been seeing it driven around town in the recent few months. It now has a 383 small block with 4 speed and swapped for friendlier 4:10 gears. Before, he drove it with a set of slicks and now he has drag radials.
Back in the day: The wagon shared many of the speed part components of August “Hands” Hartkopf’s 56 Chevy. As the story goes… early on in the 1960’s “Hands” 56 Chevy had been in a bad towing accident and many of the parts were re-used on this wagon in about 1966-67 in order to re-construct another car for the old Austin Speed Shop they owned. This is when the wagon came about with its name and into the hot seat was none other than “Hands” little brother Butch Lake as driver. According to drag strip news, they set the E/MP AHRA record in Sept. of 1967. It was a low 11 sec car. The last known driver was another Austin drag racing legend -Joe White of Joe White’s Perf. Automotive.
Andy says, in its present running condition, his plans are to keep it that way and drive it everywhere like he has been doing ever since he bought it. Which fits the bill just perfect for the future Lonestar Round Up’s. He also mentions that this isnt his only hot rod, he has a few more classics he keeps in ready condition for the streets of South Austin.