I have had a few different hot rods in my life-one I built just the way I wanted it and many others I bought and changed to my liking-but my latest ride was different from the very start. My '34 Ford coupe was started in the early '90s and never finished because the guy I purchased it from started building it and became ill not too long after and just parked it in the hopes of someday returning to the project. He had done it right, starting with an original '34 Ford chassis that had been built up by legendary rodder Pete Chapouris in his time between leaving Pete & Jake's and starting his new company, PCG3, which eventually morphed into the SO-CAL Speed Shop. Nevertheless, the original owner just ran out of steam after gathering most of the pieces.
When I stepped in, I planned on throwing the car together as my summer driver, but as hot rods usually go, I got more involved. I had planned on running the car in a coat of primer, but during a visit to Chip Foose's shop, I completely fell in love with a finish I saw on one of his engines. I set out to achieve that same look on my entire car, and it took a few attempts to get it just right, but in the end, I completely love the look that appears soft to the touch. My friend Skratch (pinstriper and Foose accomplice) helped me select the gold hue that would work with the maroon color in which the chassis has previously been wrapped.
I'm a child of the '60s, so my tastes have always leaned toward the memories of the cars my dad and his friends drove, as well as the rides of neighborhood hot rodders back in Washington, D.C. It's funny how much those early memories influence your taste for the rest of your life. A strong element of that early influence was chrome reverse wheels and wide whitewall tires. I had to run that combo on my hot rod and the biggest whitewall currently in production comes in the Firestone 8.90x15 from Coker with a full 5 inches of whitewall! I just had to have those, and the chrome wheels with spider caps completed my vision.
The car just started designing itself at this point. The next big area was the interior, so I called on my friend Victor Zuniga at Zuniga Auto Upholstery to stitch me up some period threads. He suggested an ivory marine-grade vinyl once he checked out my car, and we agreed on a tuck 'n' roll pattern over a Glide bench seat. In my own opinion, he nailed it with a combination that is great to look at and comfortable too.
Finishing up the exterior is one of my favorite things-unusual headlights. I used a set of 1937 Buick buckets and grafted them to a Guide sealed-beam unit and a set of Guide turn-signal toppers I lengthened to fit. My old friend Skratch provided the finishing touch with a skinny 'stripe that goes great with the suede finish. I hope other people enjoy the car as much as I do because I'm having a blast!
1934 Ford Coupe
A tried-and-true Chevy small-block powers Pat's coupe, in this case a '69 350. Dressing up the mighty Mouse is a pair of Offenhauser valve covers and an Edelbrock intake manifold topped by a matching 650-cfm carburetor. An early Caddy air cleaner and a pair of Sanderson shorty headers finish up the motivation package. Behind the reliable engine is a GM Turbo 400 automatic transmission of the same vintage.
The chassis is an original '34 Ford unit rebuilt by Pete Chapouris during a transitional period. He started by beefing up the X-member and then set up the front around a Super Bell dropped I-beam axle. A Vega box does the steering while a pair of Wilwood disc brakes mounts up to a pair of Super Bell backing plates to do the stopping. Out back, a pair of ladder bars locates a 9-inch Ford rearend with a pair of Aldan coilovers smoothing out the bumps in the road.
Wheels & Tires
Chrome reverses were the only option on Pat's list for this car, so a set of 15x4 and 15x5 shiny rollers dressed in chrome spider center caps are wrapped in 6.70x15 and 8.90x15 Firestone whitewalls from Coker tire.
Body & Paint
A fiberglass '34 Ford three-window coupe body from Gibbons patterned after Pete Chapouris' own California Kid was only too fitting to top a pair of 'rails personally massaged by Pete himself. Mated together with an original '34 Ford grille and a reproduction hood from Rootlieb, the entire package was sprayed by the owner with a specially blended satin gold finish before Skratch laid down some fine line with his Mack brush and some One-Shot enamel.
Inside the coupe, Pat kept it simple and true to the period he loved best as a kid with yards of white vinyl stitched up by Zuniga Auto Upholstery in Northridge, California, over a Glide Engineering bench seat. A Vintage Air unit has been installed to regulate the temperature for longer trips that might get a little warm.