Probably the only thing better than a mid-'60s Ford coupe for a first car is a free one. Blaine Wolfe knows all about that since his dad, Bud, gave him his first car for his 14th birthday-a '65 Mustang. It belonged to Bud's brother, Jim, who happened to own a Falcon as well. "I really wanted the Falcon because it was a race car and it ran," Blaine revealed. "But he wouldn't sell it because it was his high school car ... since he'd kept it so long already he was going to give it to his son." Blaine persisted, though, and after a dozen or so years of waiting and with some help from his wife, Sharri, he prevailed.
Let's face it, Falcons were never top bird on the totem pole, and being a teenager's toy in the '70s, it certainly looked the part: multi-colored from repairs, a little rough around the edges, and sitting on rock-hard Goodyear drag tires. "The 10-mile trip home took forever because the car would overheat," Blaine mused. "It didn't matter to me because it was finally coming to my house."
Once the thrill of beating the car around the block wore-a matter of months according to Blaine-he tore into it. He pulled the engine, had it rebuilt, and smoothed the core support and firewall while it was out. "While that was going on I started collecting parts for the front suspension," he said. By virtue of Fatman Fabrications 2-inch dropped spindles and RideTech ShockWaves, the nose tucks 16x8 American Racing Salt Flat Specials with 205/45R16 Hankook hides.
"Once that was done, the car took its first turn," he noted. To fit the new wheels and tires under the rear wells, Blaine and his good friend, John Bolen, mini-tubbed the car. "The 9-inch rear was already narrowed, but I didn't realize until I tubbed (the car) that it wasn't narrow enough," he lamented. So Bill Parsons narrowed the housing, which Blaine equipped with Moser street/strip axles. "I also moved the leaf springs inboard by about 4 1/2 inches and Bruce Bolen (John's dad) built me some non-offset hangers." He left the car leaf sprung for a time, but recently had Mike Walter build a triangulated four-link with ShockWaves to hold things in place a little better.
"At the same time I swapped in a new gas tank and radiator from Performance Radiator. While I say at the same time, I really meant over the next 12 months, give or take," he said, chuckling while going over stories of him working on the car with friends Brian Bolen and Mike Auckland. "To this point the best time I've had is cutting in the mini-tubs with an angle grinder over a few Rainiers. It's kind of fun digging into a project that you or your friends have never done.
"By this time the mechanicals were done, so it was off to bodywork. We'd barely started when my dad suggested taking the car back to Mike Walter for him to straighten it and get it in primer." Walter builds hot rods at Rainier Rod & Custom in Graham, Washington, so in typical hot rod fashion, one thing led to another and what started out as a straighten-and-primer job turned into the car Blaine has today.
For example, Blaine started by filling in the trim and handle holes, but Walter, "cleaned it up." He also re-plumbed the brake system after Blaine's attempt sprung a few leaks. "Walter's shop is very new and most of the work that was done he let me help when I could. This usually meant that Walter redid some of the work I did, but it was nice being included in every step."
From there, the project snowballed. Walter relocated the fuel filler to inside the trunk, thereby cleaning up the rear apron. He reworked the dash panel to take the Tom Gale-designed Classic Instruments American Series combo gauges. Probably the car's most dramatic flourish is its console; Walter fashioned it from the center strip of a spare hood, thereby bringing an outside element indoors. He also built the audio console, painted, assembled, and wired the car. Though it looks like one color, the car actually wears two different charcoal shades.
The console suggests that the car's interior isn't conventional and the seats prove it. They're '00 vintage Pontiac Sunfire buckets, but that's not necessarily what makes them different. The way Blaine used them is: He replaced both front and rear benches with them, giving the console both a reason to exist and place to go. Gary Smith at Interior FX in Eatonville, Washington, crafted the side panels and garnish moldings then trimmed everything-one-piece headliner included-in Merlot-colored leather. He incorporated Falcon emblems in the seats and used the remaining leather to bind the edges of the loop-pile carpets. "There's no vinyl in the car," Blaine observed. "Everything is either carpet or leather." Though the preceding took about seven years, everything went smoothly until five weeks before the car's debut at the Goodguys Northwest Nationals in Puyallup, Washington. Remember the engine that Blaine rebuilt early in the game? It blew up. "This was one week after the car was finished," Blaine lamented. "The Saturday before the show I picked up my new engine. That afternoon we found out that we had to change the front cover for one that would take the standard-rotation water pump. Sunday we got the engine started and broken in only to find out the transmission we put in was bad." On Monday night they swapped in a fresh C4 in four hours, only to find out the flexplate was wrong for the new engine. "Because of that I now know that there are 28- and 50-ounce late-model engines and they vibrate like hell if you use the wrong one. So Wednesday night I dropped a new plate to the engine guy and on Thursday afternoon I picked it up. At 11:00 p.m. Thursday I had the third transmission and new flexplate back in the car." Because of Blaine's dad, Bud, his wife, Sharri, friends John and Bruce Bolen, Mike Walter, John Finnegan, and Devin and Malcolm Freund, he was sitting next to the car at the fairgrounds by Friday afternoon. Though a harrowing one, "It's the best story about the car because I had friends stand beside me all week, doing whatever it took to get that car to that show."
Above and beyond the dozen years Blaine waited to get his Falcon, it took another seven to bring it to the state it's in. And though Blaine's assumed various grown-up roles, the car does something funny to him. Behind the wheel he turns 14 again. Only this time he doesn't pretend to burn tire.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1964 Ford Falcon
Seeing how a Falcon is a unit-construction car, Blaine stuck to simple modifications like Fatman Fabrications 2-inch dropped spindles with modified Granada 11-inch brakes. He replaced the coils and dampers with RideTech ShockWaves and shortened the steering box shaft to take a Flaming River column. The narrowed 9-inch axle features a triangulated four-link fabricated by Rainier Rod & Custom's Mike Walter. The rear also rides on ShockWaves.
The latest engine is an '89 vintage 302 roller that Mark Wadsworth built. Speed Pro forged slugs and reworked iron heads give it a 10.5:1 compression ratio. A custom-ground camshaft by Delta Cam, Harland Sharp roller rockers, and 2.02/1.5 valves gives it plenty of chance to breathe. Though ceramic coated now, the full-length 1 1/2-inch headers are the same ones Blaine's uncle Jim ran in the '70s. Those headers merge into 2 1/2-inch pipes with 40-Series Flowmaster mufflers. The engine bolts to a C4 transmission that Blaine and his buddies installed. The rear axle sports a street-brawling 4.56:1 gear set, a Detroit Locker, and Moser street/strip axles.
Wheels & Tires
The coupe rolls on a set of American Racing Salt Flat Specials; 16x7 fronts with 205/45R16 Hankook Ventis HRIIs and 16x8 rears with 245/50R16 Hankooks.
Body & Paint
Blaine Wolfe initially shaved the car, including the firewall, and Mike Walter relocated the fuel filler. Mike Wheeler at Electrofinishing polished the trim and re-plated as necessary. Mike Walter straightened, prepped, and shot the car in two shades of base/clear urethane.
Gary Smith at Eatonville's Interior Express trimmed the cabin, including the one-piece headliner, in Merlot-colored leather. Blaine forwent the car's benches for four buckets from an '00 Pontiac Sunfire. Walter carved the middle out of a stock hood and made the center console from it; a Lokar shifter discretely pokes out. He also shaved the dash and created a filler panel for the Classic Instruments American Series combo gauges. The car's formidable audio system includes an Eclipse 3403 head unit, Rockford Fosgate Punch 200- and 400-watt amplifiers, 6 3/4 and 6x9 Prime speakers, and two 10-inch Punch subwoofers. Blaine damped the cockpit with Dynamat and Walter wired the car with an American AutoWire kit.