More times than not, the plumber has a leaking faucet, the house painter has peeling paint on the windowsills, and a bodyman drives a dented hot rod. Most guys who get paid to build top-notch hot rods and customs have nothing more than photos of past builds to showcase their work. They're just so busy building other people's dreams they don't have time to work on their own.
Every once in a while, though, one of these guys makes the time to put their talents to work on something a little more personal for them. It generally takes a lot of time with many stalls along the way, but as Jim Hendricks has shown, it can be done. He managed to set some time aside from doing custom metalwork on other people's high-end builds to bang some metal on his own '36 roadster.
Jim has had a long love affair with '36 Fords, starting back in his high school days when he cruised a two-door humpback sedan with a Mercury Flathead. He later moved onto another '36 roadster he ended up restoring back to stock and selling. After cycling through some '34 Fords, he came back to his first love and found this roadster when he was doing some metalwork for a friend and heard he had it. Jim ended up trading some labor and cash for the '36, which had been hit pretty hard in the cowl (not a big deal for someone with Jim's talents). The roadster was also missing the engine and trans, so it made perfect sense to Jim to stick to his proven combination and find another Mercury Flathead.
Jim's roadster is the answer to the argument that customs didn't start in 1949. When I first spotted Jim's '36 at the pleasanton fairground, my first thought was that it was a cool custom-the terms "hot rod" or "street rod" never came to mind. With the exception of the wheels, the exterior of the roadster has custom touches along with a few well-chosen parts from other manufacturers that could have easily rolled out of a custom coachbuilder's shop back in 1940. And the closer you look, the better it gets. Jim is already finding time to work on his other '36; this time it's a three-window with the same trunk and hood treatment as the roadster.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Santa Rosa, California
1936 Ford Roadster
An early Ford custom needs an early Flathead and the Mercury worked so well in Jim's first 36 Ford he decided to go the same route. Jim dropped off the '51 Mercury engine at Kraft Machine in Santa Rosa and had them clean it up, bore it .030, and balance the rotating assembly. once the short-block was in shape, it was capped with offenhauser aluminum heads and an Edelbrock four-barrel intake and carb. Fenton headers connect it to a custom 2-inch exhaust with MagnaFlow mufflers. The stock radiator keeps it cool while the power is transferred through a '48 Ford side-shift three-speed.
The stock frame was retained and fitted with a Super Bell 4-inch dropped axle with '48 Ford drum brakes at each end and controlled with a stock wishbone, '48 Ford panhard bar, and '37 Ford steering box. The stock torque tube, rearend fitted with 3.25:1 gears and F-100 brakes), and wishbone was put back in service.
Wheels & Tires
Fifteen-inch Mercury wheels painted red and dressed with '50 Merc caps were shod with BFGoodrich Silvertown wide whites (215/75s and 235/75s).
Body & Paint
A guy who makes his living doing metalwork couldn't leave his own car's body stock. There's R&C no mistaking it's a '36 Ford, but it has had several modifications a lot of people might not notice. The most custom but subtle is the decklid, which had been extended down to the lower body reveal. Stock trunks aren't the easiest to get stuff in or out of, but Jim solved that problem by forming a new decklid out of aluminum. The hood sides are a little more noticeable but look right at home, and the hood grilles are from a '34 pontiac. Jim built the steel one-piece hood top and took out some of the peak in front to help streamline the profile. Stock top bows were cut 2 1/2 inches and shortened a half-inch to meet the custom windshield frame and then covered in Mercedes cloth by dan Most. The headlamps were lengthened and lowered 1 3/4 inches and the taillamps were shortened. Custom covers were built to hide the brackets holding the reworked '39 Lincoln bumpers.
The interior received its fair share of custom metalwork as well. The dash was patterned after an Auburn and features two glovebox doors and a Knecht Equipment Co. insert filled with Auto Meter gauges. A '40 steering column and wheel were installed along with the shifter. A '36 five-window coupe bench seat (covered in leather) replaced the stock seat so Jim could tilt it forward to access some storage behind it. Chris plante covered the rest of the interior in red vinyl and tight-weave carpet. Aircraft seatbelts were added so no one will take flight in case of an accident. A Tropic-Aire heater was restored and added to provide some warmth.