Building an all-steel custom, is as much like sculpture, as it is the work of a true craftsman. Darryl Starbird has first-hand experience molding customs into shape, akin to the Phaze II. Which is exactly why Dave Puhl’s final creation landed a spot in the Starbird Rod and Custom Hall of Fame collection - appreciation.
Phaze II is the artistic handy-work of Palatine, IL native, Dave Puhl, who at the time, had built a laundry list of customs, dragsters, and beyond. Throughout 1969 and 1970, Phaze II appeared in a four part series inside Rod and Custom magazine serving-up a complete tutorial on how to bolt together a custom car; Oct., Nov., 69; Jan., Feb., April., and June., '70.
The original concept behind Phaze II started with a conversation between builder, Dave Puhl, and R&C editor, Spence Murray at a meeting in Kansas City, KS, in 1964. Likeminded, the two were both dedicated to pushing the limits in the custom street rod realm. They threw out ideas like a bed-forward pickup, for example, or a fastback convertible station wagon. At that time, mid-engine cars were pretty much non-existent other than powering specialty race cars. They designed a basic chassis layout that would surprise any street rod circle.
Puhl eventually met up with stylist Harry Bradley and they agreed to put pen to paper. Puhl supplied all of the ideas to Bradley and by early Spring, 1969 the final design elements came to life. They were to utilize an AMC 343 V8 and build tubular rails that connect identical ’71 Javelin front X-members for support.
Photos courtesy of Rod and Custom Magazine
To scratch build an all steel body – the framework is one obvious starting point. Puhl, being a fan of sticking together conduit structures, went to his local hardware store to pick up a bulk supply (roughly 500-ft used) of 1/2-inch electrical conduit. Dave then began the complex chore of body construction by bending up the lengths of conduit that formed the fender, body, and hood outlines.
Phaze II is the result of a talented team of craftsman and forward thinking designers. It's a crowning achievement of Dave Puhl’s colorful career in custom car building. In 1970, the World debut of Phaze II was at Chicago’s Navy Pier, a 3-day show that brought a myriad of media attention. Later it traveled the national show circuit gaining mass-attention from show promoters and builders. Phaze II was never built with racing in mind, but as a design experiment with a special emphasis on a creative mid-engine chassis.