A pretty unlikely car drew a crowd all weekend long at this year's National Roadster Show. Though a '32 Ford, its sedan delivery body wasn't typical show-car fare. In fact, dressed in black and shod in brown artillery wheels, it was pretty sober looking. A resto-rod at heart, it led one to wonder if anything had been done to it. It just looked so ... simple.
Simple appearing, yes; however, two words on the placard indicated this was no simple car: George Poteet. If you're not really familiar with George, this much you should know about him: He's sort of a patron of the hot rod arts. He has this habit of choosing builders-often up-and-comers-based on their
specialties, working up an outline with them, and then leaving them alone to build the best possible example based on that outline. For this particular car, he chose Dave Lane, as in Fast Lane Rod Shop in Donahue, Indiana.
This isn't the duo's first collaboration. Already on the rise by the time he and George met nearly a decade ago, Dave is quick to point out that he owes a good deal of his favorable press to some of the cars upon which he and George collaborated.
One car Dave built for George about half a dozen years ago is particularly relevant to this sedan delivery. Like the delivery, it's a Deuce, it's black, and, above and beyond the fact that Dave removed its fenders, the car looks so incredibly simple. There was nothing necessarily groundbreaking about the Kelsey Hayes wheels, '40 dash, or yellow-and-white gut, but you just couldn't help but look at it. The five-window coupe appeared in our Jan. '04 issue.
"George had some really good ideas to start with," Dave began. Among them, "We put roadster quarters on that." As he pointed out, five-window quarters look almost like a Model A's, since they're flat around the fender. On a roadster, however, they flare out to meet the fender. "It's such a pretty thing," Dave mused.
In itself, there's nothing exceptional about a Chevy Orange engine with tin valve covers,
"With that car, it was all about really subtle modifications-nothing a guy could tell," he continued. "There are guys who owned five-windows that couldn't figure out why their cars and George's car looked so different. They'd look at it and go, 'Well, mine isn't chopped either, so why does that one look
that way?' And, they never caught on that it was chopped just shy of an inch. The hood was pie-cut just a little bit, too-about 3/8-inch. That's the stuff I like to do; I like changing stuff to where the guy can't tell, but it just makes the car look better."
Now, stop right here and ponder that last sentence. Let it sink in. Dave proves he's willing to walk a mile just to trick your eye. Which brings us back to this stock-looking delivery. If you're starting to get the idea there's more to it than meets the eye, we've got some news for you: You don't know the half of it, Jack.
Though Dave committed to crafting every interior panel to reflect the pickup door panels'
Delivering the Perfect Deuce
As Dave tells it, George doesn't so much present ideas as much as initiate bench-racing sessions. "We were walking around the basement in Detroit (Autorama) just throwing ideas around," Dave said. "We both like commercial vehicles, so we started talking about a sedan delivery. You can do something with those that hasn't been done before."
Yeah, no kidding you can forge new ground with a Deuce delivery; with merely 400 examples produced in 1932, it is by far the rarest car in a model year already exceptional just for the fact that it lasted only one season. In dreaming up something different, Dave and George basically hatched a plan that figuratively cut against the grain of the street rod philosophy: Instead of making a truck more car-like as everybody else does, they talked about making a car more truck-like. "A real commercial theme, you know?" Dave beckoned. Drawing on various influences like Jim "Jake" Jacobs' brown Model A panel, "We started talking about bare floors and rubber floor mats instead of carpet," Dave said. "You know, cargo areas that actually work, and so on. It's just trying to take a really basic vehicle and spit-shining it. Just shine everything up real nice, but don't throw a bunch of stuff at it."
But, there's something that differentiates bench-racing sessions with George Poteet: Whereas most of us bench race just to fulfill wishes that our pocketbooks can't grant us, "Bench-racing sessions with George often end up with a running car," Dave observed. "So, eventually he turns to me and said, 'Why don't you give (artist) Eric Brockmeyer a call and work out some drawings that we can bounce around a little bit?'"
The '32 Chrysler gauge panel is oval like the Deuce's original panel, "but I had to open (
The Kindest Cuts
"We started thinking about proportions, and a lot of commercial-type vehicles had shorter doors and a longer body for storage," Dave indicated. "So, we just thought, why don't we take that idea and build it into this body? After all, this is the way Ford should've done it." But, Dave didn't lengthen the entire car to achieve the more commercial profile. Instead, "I moved the B-pillar forward.
"I pasted a picture of the body in my photo program and started shortening the door just a little bit-about an inch and a half," he revealed. "Any more, and the door started looking a little too short; any less, and you couldn't really see the change. I wanted to lean on it just enough that you wouldn't quite know it, but if you were to stand back, the body would look just a little bit more commercial."
While Dave could've just lengthened the quarters, shortened the doors, and called it a day, that would've been too easy-not to mention too predictable. Following the commercial path forged earlier, he took a slightly different track. "If you've ever noticed a regular pickup's or panel's doors, they have this steel inner panel with this really cool triangular access hole and rib pattern," he noted.
"There were no inside door panels to those sedan doors when we got 'em, so I just found a set of pickup doors and cut 'em apart." He's being modest, but you'll have to see the construction photos to know why (check them out at www.rodandcustommagazine.com).
Kelly Page crafted the hard maple for this cargo area with furniture-grade joinery. Instea
Since the floors and kick panels were intended to be left bare, they had to look somewhat like the doors. That meant two things: extensive ribbing for strength and dimpling for screw garnishes. "There are actually two firewalls in the car, but with insulation between them," Dave enthused. "I insulated everything with Dynamat, then put the two together. It's just made to look like you're seeing just a plain old firewall from the inside or the outside."
Because this is a work truck, Dave said he and George thought the interior should be as stripped-down as possible. "Other than the seats and the rubber mats, we both thought there should've been a little wood in there to protect the steel, and then the rest would be just steel," he surmised. "That was kind of the philosophy of it all."
Believe us or not, but this delivery-this ultra-subtle, traditional-looking resto-rod-is a billet wagon. That's right; under the modest brown paint, there's enough CNC-whittled metal to have made Lil' John Buttera beam with delight. "George sent me a wheel that was spoked like that and asked if we could have a set of wheels made," Dave recalled. "It just so happened that a friend of mine who owns a machine shop always wanted to make a set of wheels." Though two different diameters-16- and 18-inch-the wheels are actually proportional throughout their entire shape.
To make the real Ford fenders match the new wheels' diameters and position, much less match each other, Dave divorced the edges from each fender, reshaped the edges, and reunited them. Whereas the deliveries got the passenger-car grille, Dave replaced it with a pickup grille to emphasize the car's more utilitarian side. Aside from protruding into the grille opening to mimic the dam behind the passenger-car insert, its sides feature hammerformed inserts and panels that finish the gap between it and the framehorns.
When Hot Rod Works built this axle around a Winters quick-change center, it swapped the be
Not your average car; not your average builder.
Just as George Poteet's sedan delivery is an unlikely candidate for an indoor car show, Dave Lane isn't your average builder. In fact, like the car, he's rather modest. "Believe me, two weeks before the Grand National Roadster Show, I kept thinking we shouldn't even go," he confessed. "I just wanted to fit in. I just didn't want people asking, 'What are you guys doing here?'
"But, then this guy came over and grabbed my hand and shook it just as hard as you could imagine and said, 'I'm Tom Prufer, and that's the prettiest f----- '32 I've ever seen,'" Dave effused. "It just blew me away; I could've packed and gone home.
"This car was built because George and I just love the concept behind it, and, honestly, it was built for him and me," Dave emphasized. "But, when someone like Pete Eastwood or Jim (Jake) Jacobs or (Roy) Brizio-people I truly hold in the highest regard-come over and say something nice ... wow.
"When I got home, I just thanked George for the opportunity to do this car, and he said, 'No trophy can replace the respect of the people you've always respected. When they say something nice about it, you know you've done good.'"
1932 FORD DELIVERY
Though Dave welded the front and rear crossmembers in place, he modified a Chassis Engineering X-member so it bolts to the framerail flanges. It looks as if Dave riveted together the chassis, but he sheepishly admits the "rivets" are modified button-head screws that serve no structural function. Instead, he modified the chassis to take a network of hidden fasteners. The chassis sports a few off-the-shelf brackets, like the Chassis Engineering pedal mounts and Pete & Jake's lower shock mounts, but Dave fabricated the remainder of the brackets from flat stock. The front wishbone ends are '32 and the rear are '35-36, but the rods themselves are solid bars milled to look as if they'd been assembled from tapered C-channel. The Hot Rod Works axle has a Winters quick-change centersection and bearing carriers that accept plug-in axles and early Ford backing plates. The front axle is a 46-inch-wide, 4-inch dropped Super Bell. All four brakes are '41 Lincoln-style from Wilson Welding.
Colorado's Craig Cooley assembled the large-journal 327 from an intact '68-vintage engine. Aside from a mild cam, forged flat-top pistons, stainless Speedway exhaust manifolds, an Edelbrock intake, and an aftermarket pump, it's largely stock, right down to the tin, pulleys, and hallmark orange paint. Automotion's Larry Fulton prepped the 2G carburetors and supplied them with progressive linkage and O'Brien Truckers' air filter housings. After scratch-building the exhaust from straights, donuts, and Stainless Specialties mufflers, Dave had the system's exterior chromed and its interior ceramic-coated. Though Dave wired the remainder of the car with conventional cross-linked wire, Rhode Island's Narragansett Reproductions fabricated the cloth-loomed engine compartment wiring. David Key prepped a Ford Top Loader four-speed and converted it to top-shift with a Jeep-style tower. Dave mated it to a GM bellhousing with a Wilcap adapter.
Working from scans pulled from an artillery-style wheel of unknown origins, Mike Fossbinder machined the two-piece wheels from aluminum billets. At 16 inches in diameter, the fronts are carbon copies of the original; however, he increased the wheel's every dimension to create the 18s. Though the proportionally sized caps appear to be '34 Ford V-8 caps, they're in fact two-piece items machined from aluminum. Due to a low-friction bearing in a carrier and a counterweight machined into the cap's backside, their emblems remain upright at all times. The Firestone Deluxe Champions measure 4.50x4.75-16 and 6.00x6.50-18, respectively.
Dave extended the cargo area by 11/2 inches and shortened the doors by the same amount using parts from closed-cab pickup doors. The differences between sedan and pickup doors, while numerous, are extreme. Above and beyond narrower and taller, the pickup doors are one-piece affairs with a fixed inner doorskin and garnish molding. Even though Dave narrowed the sedan doorskins 11/2 inches, he had to widen the pickup door structures another 51/2 inches. Similarly, he had to chop the pickup window frame to match the sedan's profile. Before welding together the inner and outer skins, Dave insulated the inner door structures with Dynamat. The passenger grille was replaced with a commercial unit and a custom apron with hammerformed inserts that conceal the crossmember behind the grille bars, as well as the outer sides of the apron. The hood was pie-cut and the roof insert channel was replaced with one that accommodates a vinyl-wrapped filler panel made by Bobby Walden. The front fender edges were moved to match each other, and the car's new stance and the rear fender lips were arched to match the tires. The base/clear colors are DuPont, and Dave won't say anything more specific than black and brown. John Wright's Custom Chrome in Grafton, Ohio, tended to the plating.
Following the commercial theme, Dave dissected and reassembled closed-cab pickup doors to match the narrowed sedan doors. Before welding them together, he lined the internal cavity with Dynamat. Ribs and dimples in the handformed floors and kick panels match those in the pickup-paneled doorskins. Though the firewall appears bare on both sides, it's actually two pieces that sandwich a layer of Dynamat. Classic Instruments updated the '32 Chrysler panel with gauges featuring contemporary movements, but it was up to Dave to quarter the dash to make the larger panel fit. Dennis Crook restored a Deuce steering wheel, but Dave painted it to match the wheels and mounted it on a matching-year mast jacket. Though externally stock, the column features a handmade shaft and bushings, and it connects to a Vega-style Mullins box via Borgeson joints. Kelly Page milled the entire cargo area, including a tool tray and a hidden cabinet, from hard-rock maple. Dave then made the cargo door's garnish molding by cutting up '34 Ford sedan rear-door moldings.
Rather than trying to steam and bend the hard-maple lath boards to conform to the cargo area, Kelly milled maple boards into thin strips and bonded them together in a purpose-made jig. The composite design, much like plywood, is vastly stronger and more stable than solid wood. Best of all, it'll retain its integrity over time, unlike steam-bent wood.
Though it looks as if it's riveted to the boxing panels, the Chassis Engineering X-member
Despite looking convincingly factory made, every bracket on the chassis, including this co
Dave Lane contends that Deuce fenders are notoriously asymmetrical. Starting with non-well
Dave retained the top's open construction, but he used one of Bobby Walden's steel filler
Dave fabricated this access panel in the same flavor as the door and kick panels. Under th
Some people love the process for its flashy appeal, but Dave elected to have the delivery'