Back in high school John Mumford tore around Santa Monica, California, in his Olds-powered '34 Ford coupe. At the same time he marveled at the Buick-powered machines "TV" Tommy Ivo ran on the dragstrip. To John, early Ford coupes symbolized the ultimate hot rod envelope. Throw in a Buick Nailhead or Olds Rocket and the package was complete. He held onto that mental picture for years, building the car over and over in his head until the opportunity came when he could have his good friend, Roy Brizio, make his dream a reality.
The first step began with locating the '33-34 Ford coupe. John chased many leads until one classified ad seemed to have additional promise above all the previous letdowns. The owner of the car was a retired priest who claimed his coupe to be "the finest '33 Ford three-window in existence." John doesn't like to think the priest was lying, but the car was very rough, albeit complete. Knowing Brizio could make it right, John paid the man his price and dragged the '33 home.
Once inside Roy's house of hot rods, the Brizio crew began work on the '33 Ford chassis by boxing the original frame for added strength. With the 'rails beefed up, new front and rear suspension pieces were selected and bolted in place.
Going back to John's fascination with early Buick muscle, a '65 425ci Nailhead was located and rebuilt by B&B Machine Shop. Because these engines were plenty healthy from the factory, the specifications were kept relatively stock with an original dual-carb setup tossed in for good measure. Backing the mighty Buick is a T5 manual transmission borrowed from a Chevy S-10 pickup.
The plan for the exterior was to leave things pretty much the way Henry intended. Dan Laughlin was called in to massage the metal back to better-than-original condition before spraying the '57 Chevy Sierra Gold paint. Once the paint was dry, all the freshly re-chromed bits were returned to their original locations and the finishing exterior touch was a fresh set of lines by Brizio's favorite 'striper, Rory.
Completing John's hot rod vision is a classic '50s-style stitch job by Sid Chavers in white and gold Naugahyde. Complementing the retro rolls 'n' pleats is a cut-down '39 Ford banjo steering wheel, chromed garnish moldings, and Stewart Warner gauges tucked up in the header panel. Amazingly, that's just half of the story because, while the '33 was going together, Roy was also building the similarly themed '32 three-window coupe for John to enjoy. The toughest part for John now is deciding which one to drive. Anyone got a coin?
John MumfordPortola Valley, California1933 Ford Three-Window Coupe
ChassisA boxed original '33 Ford frame provided the platform to which Roy Brizio Street Rods attached all of the new chassis components. Frontend components include a Super Bell 4-inch dropped I-beam axle, Pete & Jake's hairpins and tube shocks, Buick finned brake drums on matching Wilson Welding finned backing plates, a Vega steering box, and a Durant monoleaf spring. Under the rear of the frame, a Winters quick-change rearend is surrounded by a pair of Pete & Jake's ladder bars, Aldan coilovers, SO-CAL finned brake drum covers, and a Brizio Panhard bar.
DrivetrainRetro muscle for the '33 comes from a rebuilt '65 Buick Nailhead. Freshened up to factory specs by B&B Machine shop in Chico, California, a mild cam and a pair of Edelbrock 500-cfm carburetors on a factory GS intake spice up the 425ci mill. Dress-up items include a pair of factory finned valve covers, a Mooneyes air cleaner, and chromed OEM pieces. Maximizing performance is a set of Sanderson custom headers. Backing up the engine is a T5 manual/overdrive trans originally found in an S-10 pickup and now shifted by a modified '39 Ford stick.
Wheels & TiresTimeless good looks in the rolling stock department come from a combination of 15x6 and 15x8 chrome Mercury wheels and caps from Wheel Vintiques wrapped in 5.60x15 and L-78x15 whitewall rubber from Coker Tire.
Body & PaintWhen originally located, John's '33 Ford coupe could best be described as "complete," as the condition was less than favorable. To get the Ford back in respectable shape it was hauled over to Dan Laughlin Customs in Anderson, California, where all the original tin was massaged before Eric Sanderson sprayed on the '57 Chevy Sierra Gold paint. Exterior details include a pair of BLC headlights, stock taillights on shortened stands, a repro Nottingham grille, Rock Valley stainless steel bumpers, and custom lines laid by Rory.
InteriorMaster stitcher Sid Chavers whipped up a stunning gold and white interior in a traditional hot rod pattern over a custom made seat inside the three-window. Complementing Sid's work are chromed garnish moldings and a cut-down '39 Ford banjo steering wheel. The stock '33 Ford dash was left unmolested by adding a few Stewart Warner gauges to the header panel above the windshield.
Something Olds Something BlueThe 1932 CoupeIn the business world, some of the best deals are struck during dinner. In the world of hot rodding, great deals can occur almost anywhere, but when the hot rodders also happen to be businessmen, a professional dinner meeting can morph into a bench racing session, dealing gets mixed with wheeling, and some really interesting business can take place before dessert arrives.
Take the story of John Mumford's ultra-traditional '32 Ford coupe, for example. John, a successful venture investor, said that it all started when he sat down at a dinner meeting with a high-tech executive. During the course of their business discussion, the topic of conversation shifted to cars. That's not unusual when talking to John, whose interest and participation in hot rodding goes back to his high school years. His youthful taste in hot rods stuck with him into his adult years as he acquired more cool cars. His enviable collection of traditional rods and customs now rivals most hot rod museums, but his deep interest in early Ford three-windows never ended.
So anyway, back to the business dinner. The two men started talking about hot rods and the other man mentioned that he knew an elderly widow in nearby Santa Cruz who owned an original '32 coupe. The car, minus the engine and transmission, had been hibernating in a shed for years and the woman was eager to sell it. John followed the lead, found the car in perfect condition, paid the lady twice her asking price, and still came away with a great deal.
John said he's always believed that, when properly built in the style of the early '60s, coupes look more "hot rod" than roadsters do. The widow's well-preserved Deuce was the car he would use to prove his opinion and Roy Brizio's Street Rods was the shop. Brizio's was a smart choice, not just because it was located nearby, or because they've done a lot of work on many of John's other cars, but because Roy possesses a well-known knack for creating great traditional '32s.
In order to give the coupe the proper hot-rod style, it would have to be a highboy and it would have be chopped. In order to stoke John's fond memories of the Olds engine in his high school hot rod, the powerplant would have to be a '57 Olds J2 mill. The paint would have to be a '57 Chevy factory color and the overall theme would have to holler early '60s.
It took a year and a half to take John's Tropical Turquoise three-window from shed condition to show condition. That's pretty quick work, especially with the final results you see here. Now that his collection of cars includes the car of his dreams, we're confident that John will start clocking some miles on this cool old-time coupe.
John MumfordPortola Valley, California1932 Ford Three-Window Coupe Highboy
ChassisThe original 1932 frame was in fine shape right out of the shed, so Roy Brizio boxed the 'rails and added a custom center crossmember and Model A-style front crossmember to stiffen things up. Split wishbones hold a Super Bell drilled and chromed 4-inch drop I-beam axle and spindles bookended with Buick finned drums with Wilson Welding backing plates. A '56 Ford F-100 pickup donated its steering box. Bumps go away thanks to Pete & Jake's shocks, a Durant monoleaf spring in front and POSIES Model A transverse springs in the back. Pete & Jake's ladder bars locate the 4.11-geared quick-change built by Hot Rod Works with '46-48 Ford drums.
DrivetrainJohn said he thought he was delivering a '57 Olds J2 engine to builder Dave Enmark, but only the block turned out to be the genuine deal. Enmark was able to find the rare parts or fabricate any new pieces he needed to assemble this 371ci engine, which was bored 0.030-over and makes 9:1 compression. Stock valve covers top the J2 cylinder heads and the stock J2 3x2 intake manifold is supplied by a trio of Rochester carburetors. The Sanderson headers were modified and run into custom exhaust pipes built at Brizio's. Walker provided a radiator. The GM five-speed transmission came out of a Camaro and runs a Weber clutch and '49-53 Olds flywheel.
Wheels & TiresThere was no compromise when choosing the wheels. Skinny front 5.60x15 Cokers and big fat 8.20x15 M7 whitewall slicks were wrapped around Wheel Vintique 15x6 and 15x7 steelies. Olds Fiesta caps complete the period-perfect look.
Body & PaintJohn was right-nothing looks more "hot rod" than a chopped highboy coupe. The body was built at the Ford plant almost 75 years ago and chopped 3 inches by Jim Hendricks not long ago. Mickey Galloway performed other bodywork, before Darryl Hollenbeck shot the body and frame with PPG '57 Chevy Tropical Turquoise. The taillights are '50 Pontiac pieces, and the distinctive headlights are American LaFrance.
InteriorThe cockpit provides first-class seating straight back to the early '60s courtesy of a custom-built bench upholstered in alternating turquoise and cream rolls by Sid Chavers. The turquoise carpet is German wool. A '40 Ford dash was added and its stock gauges were sent to Classic Instruments for a rebuild. An original Sun tach is mounted behind the '40 Ford wheel from Quality Restorations on a custom column built at Brizio's shop. Kugel swing pedals, a '39 Ford shifter, and Juliano's seatbelts round out the interior amenities.