Cromling's history with this particular '40 Ford coupe is somewhat unusual in the respect that he has owned this car since 1972. Sure, there are plenty of folks who have kept a car for as long, maybe longer, but in today's throw-away society, it's refreshing to hear of someone who's kept a car from becoming "the one that got away"! Bill purchased this '40 back in the early Seventies, in Dayton, Ohio. It was black with a rolled and pleated interior, '56 324 Olds with a LaSalle trans and '48 rear. Nostalgic even by 1972 standards.
In 1973, Bill and his high school sweetheart, Maureen, now married with child, drove the new/old coupe to the '73 Street Rod Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with the Grafton Street Rod Association's club trailer in tow. The Cromlings enjoyed their little coupe but as is so often the case, priorities and interests change and along with those changes, the '40 was pushed further and further back. Muscle cars, drag racing and motorcycles took over the prime attention slots for the Cromling family.
Fast forward to the dawn of the new millennium; Bill had a yearning to get back to his roots. Enter Squeeg Jerger (Squeeg's Kustoms) who was a long time buddy and former Ohio resident. Squeeg flew the coop years before and moved out west to make his home and shop in Mesa, Arizona. Bill contacted his transplanted friend and well-known custom car painter and builder to put together a rowdy maroon deuce roadster. For the next number of years, the roadster made its rounds and much fun was had by the Cromling clan. Come 2005, Bill was getting the itch for another great Squeeg's built hot rod, only this time he wanted his long-retired '40 to be done, but to a level that far exceeded its former guise. Something that would shout Ohio style along with today's attention to detail-detail that Squeeg's Kustoms can definitely deliver. At this point Squeeg had gone into semi-retirement and was called upon to help out with some patch panel work and to lend a hand in general with his buddy Bill's dream car. Son of Squeeg, Doug as he's actually known, had taken the reigns over from his dad and managed the build from beginning to end along with one of his trademark, masterful flame jobs.
Before the build was even underway, however, Doug called on me to help illustrate his ideas so as to keep everyone on the same path. With most hot rod projects, I help not only by illustrating the proposed car but also conceptualizing and designing certain aspects of the vehicle. Not so in the case of Bill's '40. Doug and Bill had this car planned from the get-go. Doug has inherited his Dad's eye, and with that a blend of Ohio and Arizona style. Personally, when it comes to hot rods, I have a strong West Coast bias, but who can deny the influence of the Ohio look (which was probably "borrowed" from California in the first place. Ha)?
I was at Squeeg's Kustoms the day the Cromlings took possession of their shiny new HAWT ROD and it was a definite treat to see how completely stoked they were. It was also truly cool to see and hear that bitchin' coupe motoring out of Squeeg's into the Arizona sun, Bill grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Bill & Maureen Cromling
1940 Ford Coupe
This car was built to be very low and with that in mind Terry Palmer of Tempe, Arizona, started with a SAC chassis and installed a modified and narrowed Mustang II based IFS with coilovers. The narrowed front necessitated a different rack and pinion setup, and Sweet Mfg. had just the right unit. A 9-inch Ford with 3.50:1 gears was mounted out back with parallel leaf springs moved inside the 'rails for maximum tire clearance. Stainless steel brake and fuel lines were run by the Squeeg's crew.
Bill is a Ford-in-a-Ford guy so a 402ci injected Roush engine was ordered and because Cromling feels a hot rod has three pedals, why not step up to a Richmond six-speed transmission? To get that just right vibe of a mechanical fuel injection setup, Kinsler ram tubes were fitted to the modern EFI. The valve covers were milled out to accept engine-turned aluminum inserts. Headers were fabricated by Joe Spovati, with the remainder of the Jet-Hot coated exhaust installed by Terry Palmer.
Body & Paint
The door and trunk corners were rounded and new rocker panel fillers were made to eliminate the unsightly gap between the door and running board. The windshield was made to resemble a '39 convertible windshield by using parts from the A-pillars of another '40 coupe along with two Bob Drake windshield trim kits modified to fit. More '40 to '39 backdating is seen with the '39 front fenders, grille and hood. The hood was modified/massaged to accentuate the stock peak at the leading edge as well as welding both halves together and hinging the whole unit clamshell style with scissor units installed at the firewall. For bumpers, front and rear, skinnier '40 Merc rear bumpers were utilized for a familiar but more pleasing look. The bumper irons were shortened a bit to suck the blades in nice and tight to the body proper. A custom sheetmetal fan shroud and inner fender panels were crafted by the Squeeg's crew.
Custom Saf-Fire blue paint was mixed using PPG product and was sprayed over the prepped and primed body. Custom mixed bright red was shot on the meticulously prepared chassis. Blended candy hues from yellow to orange make up the basis for the elaborate yet elegant flame layout. Paint mixing and spraying as well as the flame pattern was handled by Doug Jerger. All of the gleaming chrome was brought to perfection by the experts at Jon Wright's CustomChrome Plating out of Ohio.
Wheels & Tires
Halibrand Sprints (15x4.5s and 17x8s) were mounted on buffed radial tires, 75-series smalls up front and 50-series jumbos out back. These were the only wheels considered, with the stance at perfection, nothing would have suited the look as well as a set of hot rodding's iconic hoops.
Gabe's Upholstery got the nod to expertly handle the interior. Pearl white bolsters with blue pleats all stitched from leather hides were used over the Glide bench and throughout. The headliner is pearl white with blue piping. Square weave carpet was color-matched blue. The stock chromed grille hides the A/C controls on the pearl white painted dash. The glove box door and garnish moldings were chromed as was the fashion for any well heeled Sixties hot rod. Squeeg made a shift arm and gas pedal for his pal, then drilled and sent 'em for chrome. Matching Hot Rod Garage pedal pads and arms from the talented Okies out of Sand Springs handle the whoa and clutch regulating duties. A bitchin' Tri-C tilt hot rod style column is topped by a matched blue leather rimmed Brizio wheel.