What do you do once you've won the America's Most Beautiful Roadster title and a Goodguys Street Machine of the Year award? Well, if you're George Lange, you find a cherry '33 Ford five-window, take it to Jack and Harry Stirnemann, and have them build you something you can actually get out and enjoy on the road.
I'm sure there's plenty of satisfaction that comes with winning such prestigious awards, but I've always felt that trying to build and maintain a car that had to be that perfect would take a few years off my life. It takes a special person who can spend the kind of coin it takes to build to that level and then want to take it out and subject it to the abuse that can come from a few trips to the local burger shack. George has put some miles on his award-winners, but I'm sure in the back of his mind he's thinking about the next road rash.
George was determined to keep this build simple. The first street rod project he started happened to be a '33 five-window, but it was sold before it was ever completed. So, with the one that got away on his mind, he had to go and have a look when he heard about a clean coupe for sale in New York. He found a primered Flathead-powered five-window with an old hot rod interior. He made the deal and had the coupe shipped to the Stirnemann brothers in St. Louis with instructions to build him a daily driver that was shiny on top and great to drive.
Most of the major components were in remarkable condition and were incorporated into the build. The original frame was cleaned up and partially boxed. When it came to the suspension, George referred back to a quote from Henry Ford he had heard. Someone asked Henry why they used buggy springs. Henry told him, "We use cross springs for the same reason we use round wheels-they seem to work the best." George wasn't about to argue with that reasoning, so they stuck with the same buggy spring configuration front and back, but took out some of the factory travel and brought the coupe down with a few traditional tricks.
The rest of the build followed this same philosophy: If it's not broke, don't fix it. The stock body and fenders look plenty good, and they look even better with just a few tweaks. A mild chop and rear bob gave the coupe a bit more of a hot rod attitude. The interior received the same treatment, with the original bench and dash freshened up with some new pieces while still retaining the original flavor.
George is thrilled with the final result and has been putting miles on it, but like most hot rodders, he has found it hard to stop tweaking with it. Since these photos were taken, he has made a few more adjustments to the front suspension and brought it down a little lower, but we're pretty sure we won't be seeing it inside on a turntable under the lights anytime soon.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Webster Groves, Missouri
1933 Ford Coupe
The intent from the start was to make this a practical build, so the original frame was retained and partially boxed. A '32 heavy axle was sent to Joe Engelman to be dropped and then hung an inch farther forward (to center the wheel in the fender) with a lengthened stock wishbone and a de-arched stock spring with reversed eyes. Wilwood discs on '40 Ford spindles and a Pete & Jake's Vega-style box and Panhard bar complete the front suspension, along with Gabriel shocks. The rear suspension is just as simple. A 4.11-geared Ford 9-inch is located with Pete & Jake's ladder bars and a de-arched stock spring.
George likes Fords in Fords and wanted reliability, so he chose a Ford Racing GT40 crate engine and left it just as Ford delivered it. About the only thing the engine didn't come with was the exhaust, so they added a set of PerTronix Patriot headers and Edelbrock mufflers. A Walker radiator keeps things cool. George believes in actively participating in the driving process, so a Tremec World Class five-speed from Keisler was ordered with an S-10 tailshaft to move the shifter forward enough to clear the seat.
Wheels & Tires
A set of cast-finish American Racing Torq-Thrust Ds (15x4-1/2 and 16x7) drive home the classic hot rod look. BFGoodrich 155/80s get the front down, and Cooper 235/70s bring the back up for a little rake.
Body & Paint
George was fortunate enough to start with a really clean original body and decided to use some restraint when it came time to start cutting on it. He had the Stirnemann brothers and Ernie Vishion slice the top a fairly mild 2 inches, lean back the A-pillars a few degrees, and lean forward the rear of the top. The rear fenders and apron were bobbed about 4 inches. The Stirnemanns then covered their handiwork with DuPont Hot Hues Spinnaker Blue. Custom nerf bars front and back help protect the body and grille. BLC headlights, with LED turn signals hidden inside, were mounted on chopped stands and light the way.
This could be the perfect hot rod interior. The stock bench was retained but lowered a little and covered in gray leather rolls 'n' pleats, along with stock-style door panels by Don Albers. The original dash features a homemade engine-turned stainless insert by Skip Boyer with Classic gauges. A '75 Corvette wheel tops a '67 Chevy pickup column. Although it looks bare-bones, there's actually a Secret Audio system hidden, as well as a Vintage Air system mounted behind the seat with custom ducts that run above the headliner into the header panel behind the sun visors.