I've been into Corvettes for years and currently have a '66 convertible that my friends Bob James and Frank Lopez helped me restore. I decided it was time to start looking for some street rod material of my own after attending every one of the Goodguys' Columbus, Ohio, events since its inception. A friend was selling a '40 Ford Deluxe coupe that I ended up purchasing with the intention of cutting it up into a rod; but after getting it running, we decided it was just too nice to cut up. Another buddy knew about a '36 Ford coupe stashed in a garage that had not seen the light of day for over two decades.
I found out the '36 had been a father-and-son project, but after the father passed away, the son lost interest and there it sat. We came along one snowy Saturday afternoon and liked what we saw. After a couple days of negotiations, we loaded it onto a friend's flatbed and trucked it home. The car was totally complete except for the original engine and trans that we wouldn't be using anyway.
Over the remainder of the winter we began to tear the '36 apart and strip it down to the bare frame in preparation for our rodification. It wasn't long until I figured out just how much work would be required to bring the frame up to my standards. I remembered how impressed I had been by a completely finished boxed frame for a fat-fendered Ford in Barry Lobeck's booth at the last Columbus event. After a visit to Lobeck's shop in Cleveland where I saw firsthand the quality of his operation and products, I ordered a rolling chassis for the coupe.
While Barry was building the chassis, we kept in touch about the progress and I continued to be impressed by his work. By the time summer rolled around I realized building the coupe was beyond my capabilities, so I had the coupe's body delivered to Barry so he could go ahead and build the entire car.
I knew from the start that I wanted a timeless hot rod that wouldn't go out of style quickly. With that in mind, Barry and I decided to fill the roof and cowl vent and also fill the seam between the front fenders and the horn aprons. The original grille was shipped off to the chrome shop and the original headlights swapped for smaller '36 commercial units. We decided the rear could use some slight smoothing around the decklid, along with the removal of the '36 taillights in favor of '37 units molded to the rear fenders. The fuel filler was also removed with a new filler neck incorporated under the driver-side taillight.
The front and rear bumpers were removed and the lower valance areas were cleaned up for a nice smooth look. A one-off nerf bar was designed to protect the newly chromed grille, and to balance things out one was also added to the rear. Original door and deck handles, as well as a set of rubber running boards help keep the look traditional. Reversed louver hood sides and firewall from Rootlieb add a little hot rod flavor without going over the top. All other pieces on the coupe are just as Henry Ford made them-only stripped, welded and cleaned up where necessary.
The interior was also designed to be timeless and functional with the original dash welded up with a set of Classic Instruments gauges installed and a 4-inch extension made to the bottom of the dash to accommodate A/C vents, ignition and headlight switches, and a cigar lighter. To keep things clean, the Vintage Air controls are tucked inside the glovebox.
My wife Karen made the color choice an easy one after she saw the perfect shade-PPG Dark Blue Metallic-on a '32 Ford coupe and immediately fell in love with it. The dark color really works with the traditional look. Maroon 'striping complements the interior color and makes a great contrast to the dark blue paint. The whole thing sits on a set of Billet Specialty Legacy rims that stay true to the long-established "Lobeck look." I couldn't be happier with the finished results.