Jump ahead to 2007 when nostalgic rods and customs are no longer outcasts in the hot rod world. Seeing where the movement is headed, Darryl once again decided to break out the torch and re-work the Li'l Coffin, only this time, put it back to Stuckey's original model car design. First up, the updated chassis needed to take a trip back in time. The original pickup points for the Deuce's underpinnings were still traceable, therefore Darryl was able to place a new '37 Ford axle and split wishbones in the appropriate position and maintain the original wheelbase. Once in position, Darryl crafted the custom spring pockets with coil springs and shock mounts. At the center of the Deuce 'rails lies a custom-fabbed stabilizer bar, which connects to the '37 axle keeping the frontend assembly centered. A '48 Ford quick-change rearend, converted to open drive, was relocated under the rear with split wishbones.
Next up came the daunting task of locating a DeSoto 331ci Hemi. Once one turned up, United Motors, in Wichita, Kansas, and Darryl's son, Cliff Starbird, overhauled it and topped it with six Stromberg 97s, just like Stuckey intended. Starbird was only able to scour up one of the original intake manifolds; therefore he turned to Eelco to duplicate a set of new manifolds. Stuckey had the original headers for the car and was glad to send them off to their rightful place. However, the exhaust pipes that flow so fluidly with the running boards needed to be recreated. Backing the Hemi is a Ford three-speed tranny with a Hot Heads adapter plate.
It was then time to put things back to the iconic look of the Li'l Coffin. From the beltline down, the car maintained its original persona, but from there things needed to be re-worked. A good starting position was the cowl. Starbird had to make the oval opening with handmade bezels, in the vein of the Merc bezels, and decorative bullets. Although the front fenders were left intact over the years the nose was long gone. Therefore, Starbird constructed a replica of the nose out of 1/2-inch steel conduit and sheetmetal. Inside the concaved nose rests six streamline tubes, and directly behind that is a custom-made radiator, by US Radiator.
The rear fenders were also intact, but the distinctive look of the dual '53 Studebaker pans were out of sight. Being that Stude pans aren't a readily available commodity like yesteryear, Starbird mimicked the Stude look using steel tubing and sheetmetal. Inside the newly-fabbed pan rests streamline tubing. Behind the tubing is an oval piece of Plexiglas painted translucent candy red, which acts as signals and taillights.
The heaviest task at hand was the cantilever-style roof. Being that the last form of the Li'l Coffin had a lift-off top, Starbird had to once again make pieces of the car from thin air. After sifting through piles of old car parts, Darryl stumbled across the original roll bar. The roll bar was installed and the roof was built accordingly. The outer portion of the roof is all metal, while the inset is a steel tube skeleton with Carson-style padding. With things back to Sixties status quo, Darryl sprayed the car in a patented Starbird House Of Kolor custom mixed Candy Apple Red over gold. Lastly, the American Racing 15-inch Torq Thrust rims wrapped with Coker whitewalls and cheater slicks were thrown in the mix to set things off just as the picture on the model's box depicted.
Under the cantilever-style roof rests a new bench seat, once again crafted by Starbird, outfitted in pearl white Naugahyde with gold Frieze by Walt's Upholstery in Mulvane, Kansas. Gracing the dash is a one-off replica steering wheel and floating gauge pods housing Stewart Warner Lifelines. The tonneau cover out back is upholstered to match the seats, and the entire underside of the roof is masked with tuck-n-roll pearl white Naugahyde.
Still something was missing. The car was never intended to have a skeleton stand next to it, but when Monogram threw the skeleton in the model it immediately immortalized the Li'l Coffin. One such fellow who stills remembers his first kit, is Jerry Glenzinski. To show his appreciation he finished off the look of the car creating a life-size skeleton to lean against the car, just like on the model's box.
Who would have thought what seemed to be an ordinary encounter between two hot rod enthusiasts 55 years ago would turn out to be the starting point in a long winded history of just another '32 Ford Model B. But then again, when you add ingredients like Stuckey, Starbird and Wichita into the mix, nothing is ever a "just another" custom car or hot rod!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Li'lCoffin- 1932 Ford Sedan