After two long years of very little sleep, credit card debt, car-related emotional ups and downs, and several cut fingers and missed deadlines-my dream has finally been realized.
When I create the Mad Fabricators DVDs, I tend to focus a lot on survivor hot rods and customs. This gives me the chance to study and absorb all the detail from these cars which are virtually frozen in time. I think that's where I started to become obsessed with building a period-correct show car. My goal was to build a car that would make people have to ask, "Is that an old restored show car?" My target year was 1958, right when we were starting to experiment with custom paints, when doing candy colors with frosting and fading was the new fad. Cars had to be painted underneath too, because the bottom needed to look as good as the top and everything possible had to be chromed. It was also a time when the upholstery was just as nice as the paint and the chrome. I wanted nothing to do with the rust, primer, and rat that seem to be so popular today. I wanted a nice ride, a sealed interior, and a screaming Cadillac mill.
I put the word out that I wanted to trade my T roadster for a '30-31 coupe and a few weeks later I got a call from my pal Tyler from Texas telling me he was looking at a chopped Model A coupe with a few chickens living in it. Yup, it was a chicken coupe. He sent pictures and they looked good, and the trade was done.
At this point I decided since what I do is make hot rod movies, I should start to document this, and I had an idea that I would go full force and build this car on film. Bob "Bleed" Merkt and Johnny "Cola" Koller came to my house and we built it up as a roller. A few months later Dave Martinez of Martinez Custom Upholstery set up shop and dialed the interior, so a big part of the build was done in my garage.
The coupe was then sent to Oxnard to Di Ciurcio's Hot Rods, where Luke did his metal craft on the body and frame, doing a lot of the finishing fabrication. At this point, we decided to try to debut it at the 2008 Grand National Roadster Show. After Angel Lopez finished up the bodywork and Drew Hallam painted the running gear, we gave it to Donnie Baird with two weeks on the clock to get a full custom paintjob on the frame and body.
We got the frame back within a few days and were waiting on all the chrome. After some delays, we had the chassis back on its feet three days before the show and received the body the following day. After a few late nights with no sleep, we got the car back in one piece (although not running) and met our goal of getting it to the Grand National Roadster Show and displayed in the Suede Palace. It was worth all the stress to be able to show the public what we had done-and it even took home some trophies.
After the GNRS we took the car back to the shop and tried to get it running. When I bought the Cadillac engine I had been told it had been rebuilt. As it turned out that wasn't the case. After a few days of trying to get it running, one of the pistons got stuck. So the engine came out (which is not fun after having a fully finished car) and was pulled apart. Turns out the engine had 100,000-plus miles on it and had not been rebuilt. Thankfully my credit cards still had some room left as I was able to get the engine built and filled with a few speed parts while I had it apart. With the engine out, I also pulled the Hydromatic and took it to Astromotive in Los Angeles. So now that I've rebuilt everything on the car, it'll be a reliable, strong car that will be able to cruise anywhere.