Despite entering a retirement zone – Eastern Canadian fabricator and race car builder John Chandler remains creative….

Based from London Ontario, during his career, this highly reputed founder of Chandler Race Cars built a very long list of race cars that included more then 30 rear engined dragsters.

But since entering semi-retirement four years ago — John undertook a nice personal project – building himself a period correct front motored Top Fuel dragster.  During this past October, that outstanding creation was towed all the way out to Bakersfield where it was part of the NHRA’s 25th Anniversary California Hot Rod Reunion. At that event John’s “Alien II” machine was a welcome part, and the only Canadian car, to participate within the event’s immensely popular “pit side” Cacklefest.

John and Bev are (all fired up) at the NHRA CHRR “Cacklefest”

“Our Alien project started in my mind about 4 years ago after Bev and I decided to sell our shop and semi retire,” said Chandler. “The actual car was started in 2013. I grew up admiring front motored top fuel cars but had never actually built one – until now.”

The Alien II has a 175 inch wheel base of John’s own design and manufacture. The body is hand formed aluminum. All peddles brackets levers, steering wheel, blower drive were built in house. The engine is a 354/377 Chrysler Hemi built by Chandler Race Cars. The motor’s machine work is by Kraushaar machine and the cylinder heads are by Bill Little.

The “Alien II” is for sure a art piece too to look at. Far more then just another fully functional dragster it features outstanding paint (Alien Green candy apple) a custom blend by Rob Arnold and also
upholstery work by Mike Patrick. The Art Work graphics are by Danno Drouin.

John also clarified some the history behind his selection of the “Alien” name for his race car.

“Originally that came from a Blown Alcohol rear engine car I built back in the 90’s,” he revealed. “For that I bought a SCS blower off of my friend Herb Rodgers. It was a 14-71 that I had to move the mag to the front of the motor because the blower stuck out about 6 inches past the engine. Fans that are familiar with the movie “Alien” know that the creature’s head sticks out the back a long way. So I was looking at it one day and made that connection about how it looked. So that car became “Alien 1”.

Since completion John and Bev have shown the car in public a few times including in Detroit and at car shows in London and in Hamilton. They were in fact the winners of a “people’s choice award” during the Drag Strip Memories Show held at Mount Hope’s Canadian War Plane Heritage Museum last winter.

“People’s Choice Award” winner at 2016 Drag Strip Memories Show

Chandler’s vast background within race car building and fabrication is a testiment. While he started racing back in the 70’s he was also working as a diesel mechanic and then developed his skills Tig welding.

“I was the first person in Canada to be certified by SFI as a chassis builder (# 156),” John continued. “I feel honoured to be mentioned in the same list as all the iconic chassis builders of the 60s and 70s. My first customer was Frank Hawley when he ran the POP SHOP Funny Car. Over the years I have built many rear engine cars — but I think the most successful car was probably Jim Mcann’s Alcohol dragster. With that car Jim won the Ontario Championships and was voted top drag car in Canada one season. I did drive my Alcohol dragster back in the 90’s and had a couple of other cars including a roadster. But I think my car building history far exceeded my driving history.”

Canadian race fans will get additional opportunities to view’s John Chandler’s artful little piece of drag racing. He confirms the “Alien II” will be a featured part at the giant Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Show held at Toronto’s International Centre – this coming March.

“When we cackle the car we are on 90% nitro” – John Chandler

“We have also been invited to attend the Detroit Dragway Reunion and we are planning on the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion at Bowling Green in June to,” he confirmed. “We will also attend the ELTA summer bash (in London) in August.”

While currently just a static “cackle” configuration car – John confirmed that there is an exciting change coming. “ This off season I will be putting a clutch and driveshaft in the car so that we can do push starts and maybe even some burn outs!”   (Cool — said all the media photographers.  When and where!)

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler