When we ran into Will Hudson at the Southeastern Nationals in Charlotte last October, his brown and beige '50 Ford was wearing a little yellow sticker on the driver-side headlight, indicating it was just a few hours away from winning a Goodguys award.
This was the first show for the recently completed shoebox, and Will-like every other participant there-was eager to show off the custom he'd built. In addition to getting a little personal glory, Will was also hoping that this two-tone sedan would be a good rolling promotion for Hudsons Rod & Customs, his custom car shop in eastern Tennessee.
It's pretty cool when you can turn your passion into a money-making business, especially when it's in collaboration with somebody who has been a lifelong influence. Homer Hudson is Will's dad and partner in the shop. Will grew up watching Homer build rods and drag cars. Now, they work on customers cars together-and the occasional personal project, like this one.
Will was working on a real rough '51 Chevy Fleetline when a customer called with a lead on a '56 Ford pickup and a '50 Ford sedan. Homer and the customer drove to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to check them out, and came home with both. The customer wanted to finish the pickup first, but Will kept coming up with ideas for the '50. He talked the customer into selling him the car and talked illustrator Jason Rushforth into creating a concept drawing based on those ideas. "I told him I wanted something edgy, and this is what we came up with," he told us.
The car was in good shape, so Will could get busy shaving and filling holes and turning the Ford into the custom he'd imagined.
Some of the best customs are cars that mix differing themes in one car to create something unique. Of course, some of the worst customs do that, too. It's a tricky way to go, and you have a disaster if things don't go right. If they do, you have a gem that blends a lot of contemporary style with a lot of traditional cues, like this one does. Will not only managed to make the blend work, he carried it over to every part of the car, so the exterior, interior, and engine compartment all go together.
The sedan was completed in a year and a half. That's quick work considering Will spent all his days building cars for customers, and had to come up with the energy to spend an additional six or eight hours wrenching on his personal project after the shop was closed for the night. His family and friends were all supportive, and in addition to his dad, Homer, Will got help from Pig Smith, Dave Walker, Al Bettner, and Abby Hudson. Now, his shoebox is hitting more shows, earning more yellow stickers, and covering a few miles.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Owner contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Strawberry Plains, Tennessee
1950 Ford Sedan
The factory frame was painted brown to match the body, and Fatman Fabrications independent front suspension parts were added, including a pair of 2-inch dropped spindles to get the nose down where it belongs. At the rear, the 'rails were boxed and beefed up with a custom triangulated four-link suspension. The rearend was pulled out of a '00 Chevy S-10 Blazer. The front and rear ride on airbags. Monroe shocks and 11-inch disc brakes were mounted at each wheel.
The Ford 351 Windsor mill was hopped up with Keith Black pistons, Eagle rods and an Eagle crank, an Edelbrock manifold, and a 600-cfm Holley four-barrel. Hooker headers are coated and feed a pair of MagnaFlow mufflers. Will minimized the distributor-in-front can of worms with an HEI PerTronix ignition and cool-looking 9mm Ford Racing wires. The aluminum valve covers were painted and given a little custom trim, and the chrome air cleaner is held on by a custom knob that matches the shifter and column controls inside the car. The transmission is a Ford C4 automatic.
Wheels & Tires
The big-diameter rims and low-profile rubber is contemporary, but the five-spoke style of the 18- and 20-inch American Racing Hopsters pulls the look back toward traditional without conflicting with the whole theme of the car. The Kumho radials are 245/40R20 and 225/40R18 in size.
Body & Paint
The ground-level stance of the '50 might give the illusion of some sliced sheetmetal, but the stock body and top are intact. The hardware was shaved away, but the headlight bezels, replacement grille pieces from Dan Carpenter, side trim, and stock bumpers-minus the bumper guards-were kept in place. Will eliminated the Ford nose emblem and replaced the stock hood trim with a simpler strip. The front and rear side windows were fitted with one-piece tinted glass. A full bellypan was built below it all. Jonathan Goolsby, from Bessemer, Alabama, gets credit for the two-tone brown and beige, shot with DuPont Hot Hues paint.
If your mouth doesn't drop open when you see this interior, then it must've been open to begin with. It's modern and stealth but still with the flavor of a shoebox Ford. The original dash was cleaned up, shot with flat black, and customized with a Haneline 120-mph speedo in the stock location pod with the stock bezel. An H logo from Hudson's fills the center spot where a clock once ticked. Interior Supply provided the front and rear buckets, which Will covered in black leather. The custom door panels are done in leather and suede. The center console features custom aluminum trim pieces with wire mesh. Keeping the painted column drop near the floor makes the Flaming River column look like it's floating, and the Lecarra Mark 40 steering wheel has the look of an up-to-date '50 Ford wheel. Taylor Seals created the custom shifter and turn-signal knobs, and the aluminum pedals are from Phipps Rod & Custom Accessories. Air conditioning is from Hot Rod Air, and the stereo is from Kenwood.