Everybody loves a saga, a story about an ordeal that never seems to end. So next time you're bench racing with your buddies, bring up the story of Jerry Kincade's '51 Ford.
Jerry has what's arguably one of the more extensively modified shoeboxes around. Those are big words-craftsmen have created legends in the past 60 years. But the car warrants it. It has the trifecta of ultimate modifications: It's not just chopped, it's sectioned and channeled. Given that Jerry is a normal working stiff like you and me, it's understandable why he maintains it took 15 years to finish (and some say he's being modest with his timeline).
"I found the car at a local hot rod car lot in September, 1984," Jerry began. "The car was so rusty and beat up that they wouldn't even park it on their lot-they parked it across the street at the grocery store. They wanted $600 (but) I offered $300 and they took the deal. I think I got the worst of the deal, but you know, love at first sight.
"I'll never forget the day I drove that rusty rag home. You could have stamped me "P" for proud; I finally had a car to work on. But my wife and daughters took one look at that car and I'm sure they thought I'd gone off the deep end."
Jerry said he toyed with the car a bit but said he didn't commit himself until a bay opened up at Ken Riggs' place, Street Machines Unlimited in Stanwood, Washington. Now bear in mind that, from the Nailhead to the extensive chassis modifications, the car has great merit; however, nothing rivals the modifications made to the body. They're extensive enough to warrant a story on their own, so we'll treat them that way and leave the captions and tech boxes to explain the rest.
"The sectioning was the first really big deal," Jerry recalled. For that, Ken sliced 4 inches from the perimeter of the car's beltline. But understand something about Ken: he's old school. Rather than buzzing the panels back together, he gas welded them, stopping every few inches to hammer the beads straight. "That took quite a while to complete," Jerry admitted.
"Next was the chop," he continued. "Back in those days there was a group of street rodders that hung out on a regular basis at Ken's shop, and it was a tradition for Ken to chop a car on New Year's Eve. I'll never forget it. The shop was full of fellow street rodders, family and friends sharing good food, music, lots of adult beverages, and car talk. Ken had it all laid out and ready to go."
At the stroke of midnight, Ken and a few revelers relieved the car of its top. When the dust settled, it sat 3 inches closer to the body at the A-pillars and 2 1/2 at the Cs. But that was just the start of it.
Business coupes like Jerry's ordinarily don't lend themselves to chopping. Their tops are shorter than sedan tops, and whacking them only exaggerates the car's tank-turret profile. It's the reason the sedans are so much more popular for extensive modifications. So Ken had to approximate the profile of the longer-topped sedan.
To begin with, Ken moved the base of the rear window back by about 10 inches. He leaned the whole panel forward to meet the remainder of the roof and, in a brush of genius, flipped the rear window.
Though the changes brought the car's profile back into proportion, it wasn't so kind to the top's profile. As Jerry explained, it looked too round. "After searching numerous bone yards for a suitable replacement, we came across a 1955 Chrysler New Yorker," Jerry said. "With hacksaw in hand we cut it out and took it back to the shop."
Considering Ken had to fabricate floors anyway, they made the decision to make them about 2 1/2 inches higher than stock which effectively channeled the car. But channeling a car has a ton of unforeseen consequences. The leading and trailing edges of the fenders, for one, needed work. What's more, Jerry took a liking to a '56 Chrysler Windsor grille-specifically one of its bars. So to accommodate both the bar and the channel job, Ken fabricated an entirely new grille surround. It effectively bridges the two fenders, making the front clip a one-piece assembly.
Rather than conventional bumpers, Jerry's car has '62 Corvette blades. To integrate them to the front, Ken grafted a '53 Studebaker chin pan to the front clip and scratch-made the rear roll pan.
Ken pancaked the hood to match the car's new profile, but he didn't stop there. Following tradition, he rounded the hood corners. Then he took it one step further by grafting the ridge from a '49 Mercury into the hood center.
Paul used a combination of...
Paul used a combination of standard leather and leather perforated to resemble MB Tex, the textured pattern Mercedes-Benz used in its cars. Rather than foul up the panel with speaker grilles, Paul perforated the hide where it covers the speakers. Ken's thoughtfulness is apparent in the door light, but his most clever trick, the hard-line conduit in the jamb bent to follow the door's swing, unfortunately isn't visible.
This isn't your typical steering...
This isn't your typical steering arrangement. It's a deep-dish '62 Olds steering wheel on a shortened Caddy tilt/telescope column. Here's the really cool part: the column mounts to a T-bird swing-away assembly. Note how Ken integrated the '60 T-bird's console into the shoebox dash.