No two cars are built following the same procedure. In this case, the car owner had selected a shop before he even had a car. Mike Wilson was on the hunt for the right raw material to turn into a cool custom when he read a magazine article about The Jalopy Shoppe, located nearby in Escondido, California. A visit to the shop left him with a good feeling.
Mike continued to look at cars, particularly '49-50 Mercs, until a locally built '50 Ford changed his thinking. He found a great deal on a stocker (minus a drivetrain) in the pages of the San Diego auto classifieds, picked it up, and hauled it straight to Escondido.
At the Jalopy Shoppe, Gregg Lowry and Jim Benitez collaborated with Mike on building the car he wanted: a fun, old-style custom-chopped, shaved, and slammed-but with contemporary safety and reliability for when he loaded up his family and hit the road. With full confidence in Gregg and Jim, Mike gave them creative freedom. Smart move. They delivered a final product that met every requirement and provided a bunch of cool surprises-most notably the Thunderbird-themed interior. Mike didn't anticipate that, but as soon as he saw it, he thought it was the perfect way to fill the passenger compartment.
Another prominent theme of the car is practicality. Jim intends to drive the '50 all over, accompanied by his wife and their two pre-school-age sons. So Jim Benitez built hooks into the trunk and modified the front seat backs in order to support a pair of child car seats until Trenton and Griffin are old enough to buckle up on the wraparound rear seats. The bulldog shifter knob is another Wilson family touch. The Wilsons own bulldogs, so the Mack truck hood ornament, a Christmas present to Mike from his wife, Ashley, was modified to fit the Gennie shifter.
Older son Trenton's contribution was even greater. He's the one who decided the car should be green. Mike collected color swatches from PPG, set them out in the sun, and gave Trenton the final call on the green metallic that covers the whole car.
By now you may have seen Mike's family-size shoebox at Paso Robles, Del Mar, or cruising Grand Avenue in Escondido. You probably haven't seen it on a trailer. That was never the plan, Mike assured us, and he's not about to change his mind now that the custom is done just the way he wanted
Rod & Custom Feature Car
'50 Ford Sedan
Considering every other first-class modification made to Wilson's Ford, it's not surprising to find a brand-new Art Morrison Enterprises chassis underneath. Airbags from Air Ride Technologies and gas shocks were mounted fore and aft to drop the body into the weeds. The 12-inch disc brakes are from Wilwood, and the steering system is from Flaming River. In the back, the Strange rearend runs 3.55:1 gears and a Posi
Lift the hood for a lesson on how to build a crate small-block to look traditional and high-tech, simple and classy, all at the same time. Start with a 10:1 mill built by Bokan Brothers in Sacramento, with Dart heads, a mild cam, and an Edelbrock 750 four-barrel carb. Add ram horn-style headers and dress it up with ribbed Cal Custom valve covers and a nostalgic Cadillac air cleaner, trimmed with candy gold paint to match the block and heads. Positive Transmissions in Escondido built the 700-R4 automatic with a 2,000-stall converter.
Wheels & Tires
The wheel and tire combo had to be unique, and the Jalopy Shoppe combined classic wide whites with some distinctive rims. These are 16-inch covered-lug Imperials from Intro Custom Wheels. A pair of 550-16 BFG Silvertowns lead the way, with Lester 700-16s doing the driving.
Body & Paint
Shoeboxes were born for the full 'sled treatment, which is what the '50 got from the guys at the Jalopy Shoppe. The body was channeled 5 inches, and the top was chopped 7 inches in front and 5 in the back, tilting the B-pillar to complement the chop. The hood was nosed and all the corners were rounded. The decklid was swapped for a '51 lid simply because '51s have internal hinges. The massive sheetmetal was shaved of all that factory ornamentation, including the mirrors and door handles. A little bit of shine was retained around the glass on the frenched headlight bezels, around the stock taillights, and on the '51 Ford bumpers and DeSoto grille teeth. It adds a perfect contrast to the monochrome paint job. Three-year-old Trenton Wilson picked the PPG Green metallic; Jim Benitez put it on the car.
The custom modifications continue inside the car, where the shoebox borrows styling ideas from the bullet-nose Thunderbird. The double-eyebrow dash is an obvious homage, continued with the custom center console (which houses the Gennie Ultra shifter and hides the controls for the Air Ride Technologies 'bags) and the modified Thunderbird buckets. Bob's Upholstery in Redlands, California, used white and off-white leather, stitched in traditional pleats, to cover the interior. The seatbacks are body-colored sheetmetal set off by a chrome perimeter and modified for child car seats. The steering wheel is taken from a mid-'60s Ford. The gauges were provided by Classic Instruments, and the cool air comes from a Vintage Air A/C system.