It often seems strange to me that, being involved in a hobby that's all about cars, once finished some of them cover minimal road miles. I'm not talking about the more extreme show vehicles, but the more "real world" rods and customs. How many trailers do you see in hotel parking lots surrounding the bigger shows, for instance? I'm a firm believer in driving my cars, especially when road trips are so much part of the fun. Peter Prescott and Franklin Crooker, from Maine, appear to share my opinion, and go out in their cars to prove the point as often as possible, racking up no fewer than nine coast to coast two-lane highway road trips together, covering all 50 states, as well as trips to Canada, the District of Columbia, and Mexico since 2005.
It was Peter's idea originally, as he wanted to tour Route 66 with his wife, Sandra, in an old car. However, although he has a collection of restored Ford V-8 convertibles, he wanted to make the trip in something with more modern amenities and power. He'd read about Roy Brizio Street Rods, as his daughter lived in San Francisco, so during a trip to see her, he made a visit to the shop to discuss his ideas with Brizio. Plans were made, requirements noted, and Peter left Brizio to source a suitable '40 Ford coupe with which to start the project. "Two weeks later he called and asked me to find a '46 coupe as well, as his best friend Franklin and his wife, Anne, wanted to join them on the trip," Brizio says. "My instructions were to 'do everything the same on both cars'. They chose the years, models, and colors, and stipulated they had to be Ford-in-Ford and run five-speeds. I'd had good luck with the Ford 351 crate motors so I used them, along with a T-5 in each coupe. We've since built Peter a '35 phaeton with a Roush 427 and five-speed."
The other requirement was that the cars be completed in a relatively short time period, never easy with one car, but harder with two. Nevertheless, both were completed in 18 months, and test-driven to iron out any small bugs, before Peter, Franklin, and their wives flew in to San Francisco to begin their road trip, each car showing 175 miles on its odometer. "They hadn't been gone 15 minutes when Peter called to say the '40 wouldn't start," Brizio says. "I thought they were joking, but we went out to meet them and the ballast resistor had given up!" That replaced, the Route 66 trip went without a problem.
That trip was merely the start of the two friends' adventures, who travel everywhere together as often as possible, aided by Jamie Jensen's book Road Trip USA, which covers a number of north-south and east-west two-lane routes across the United States, with tips directing you to local points of interest. The friends plan to travel each route listed in the book in their coupes, which are equipped with XM radio, GPS, and cell phones.
Racking up such mileages, the identical running gear plan was obviously a practical one, meaning fewer spares are needed on the road. The crew at Brizio's clearly built them to be practical drivers, with Heidts IFS and 9-inch axles on Chassis Engineering parallel leaf springs, Vintage Air A/C, and Gennie steelies from Wheel Vintiques. Despite that initial electrical glitch with Peter's '40, the guys have had no major problems yet and have covered almost 40,000 miles so far, with the longest single trip being 4,600 miles. We shot the coupes in Pleasanton, California, last summer, and immediately afterward they headed out for home, some 3,700 miles away, once again completing the trip without a hitch. As Peter likes to point out, "Brizio cars are bulletproof"!
Rod & Custom Feature Cars
Peter Prescott and Franklin Crooker
1940 Ford DeLuxe Coupe and 1946 DeLuxe Coupe
Both coupes are identical-literally-under the skin. Both started as rust-free cars bought in California, with Roy Brizio Street Rods tackling the modifications to the stock frames, adding tubular crossmembers. Heidts Mustang II independent front ends went under both, with QA1 shocks, Heidts antiroll bars, GM 11-inch brakes operated via Pete & Jakes pedal assemblies, with Corvette master cylinders and 7-inch boosters. Identical 3.7:1 limited-slip 9-inch Ford axles were hung on Chassis Engineering parallel leaf springs in the rear.
Brizio had a lot of positive results using Ford crate motors, and with the only stipulation that the coupes remain Ford-in-a-Ford, opted to install Ford SVO Racing 351 motors in each car, backed by Tremec five-speed transmissions equipped with Hurst shifters. Walker radiators found their way into each engine compartment, while the 2 1/4-inch exhausts were fabricated in-house at Brizio's.
Wheels & Tires
Gennie steelies from Wheel Vintiques were used on each Ford, 15x6 in front and 15x7 out back, ensconced in 205/65-15 and 235/75-15 Goodyear rubber respectively. One of only five differences between the cars' spec, not including the body styles, is the year-specific hubcaps on each, coupled with trim rings.
Body & Paint
Both coupes are bodily stock, and both were painted by Jason Haskins in Sacramento using DuPont paint, with Peter's '40 in Boxer Blue and Franklin's '46 in black. Sherm's Custom Plating, also in Sacramento, handled the chrome work on each car, while identical swan neck mirrors were fitted to each.
The fourth difference between the two after body style, color, and hubcaps is the choice of steering wheels; Franklin going for a LeCarra item and Peter opting for a Juliano's wheel. Other than that, both cockpits feature Vintage Air A/C, Auto Meter gauges, ididit columns, Wise Guys seats, wool carpet and upholstery by Barry Ward, with ox blood leather in Peter's and black leather in Franklin's.