We've talked about this before-how there are different kinds of hot rodders in the hobby. There are the guys who build a car and keep it forever, making mild changes here and there and racking up miles over the course of decades. Then there are the guys who have a different car every time you see them-they're building them, selling them, and moving on to the next car before the paint's dry on the previous project.
Frank Nastasia admitted to us that he fell into the latter category for a long time. He's been building cars, trucks, and motorcycles for more than 40 years. "Throughout the years, I always sold whatever I finished, so none of them stayed around long enough for me to really enjoy."
That all changed when Frank found this car. As a grade-school kid in the early '60s, Frank liked to watch drags at a strip converted from an old airport in Sanford, Maine. One of his favorite cars was a '39 Chevy. A few years later, his dad pulled into the driveway with Frank's first car, a '58 Impala convertible. "It rocked," he told us, and it marked the beginning of a lifelong involvement with all kinds of motor vehicles.
Frank was in the process of selling a '40 Ford convertible he'd finished building, and was searching shops for a Ford or Chevy coupe when he found this '39. It was half-finished, but a good solid car, so he talked the shop owner into selling it to him. The coupe stayed half-finished as Frank worked on other projects and thought about which direction to go with this one. Eventually, he realized he had to make a choice: either build the coupe or get rid of it.
He decided to build it, following a resto rod theme. When he stripped the paint off of the body, he was happy to discover that the body was as solid as he thought, with rust limited to a small portion of the trunk.
The chassis was completely reworked, using the factory 'rails. A Chevy small-block was planted between the 'rails backed by a TH350 transmission and a Ford 9-inch. The one thing Frank says he'd change is the automatic trans; he'd make it a standard shift five-speed and add that third pedal.
His friend, Mike Pilato from Tewkesbury, Massachusetts, reworked the hood, cutting the top portions just below the beltline, and molding and welding together the left and right top pieces. It was an elaborate job that simplifies the lines of the body and brings the nose down slightly.
The greatest challenge, Frank says, was choosing the right color combination, knowing the decision could make or break the car. It came down to black or Ford Currant Red. Ultimately, the brighter color won.