When the '35 Ford was introduced it was a real showstopper. There were several engineering improvements to brag about-the chassis was stiffer, suspension redesigned, the brakes upgraded, and the steering was re-engineered. But the real buzz, and the only thing that matters to modern-day hot rodders and customizers, is the styling.
The new Ford had taken a large step forward. The car sat 1 inch lower due to 16-inch wheels, the windshield had a distinctive rake, the grille was narrower, and for the first time the front fenders dropped all the way down to meet the bumper. There was a series of swept-back vertical louvers in the hood sides accented by four horizontal stainless bars. The grille was a string of thin vertical bars that rolled under the front fascia and were complemented by another set of five horizontal bars. The headlight housings sat a little closer to the fender and were body color in an effort to make them a less noticeable design feature (in 1937 they would be integrated into the fender). All in all, the design was a real hit.
So it's no wonder that when Mark Hummel saw a '35 Ford coming down the road at him while he was en route to Louisville in 2007, he was hooked. The fat fenders, the laid-back windshield, and lowered stance-it was the perfect starting point, and best of all, it was for sale. When Mark got to Louisville he found the car, checked it over, and struck a deal with the owner. The car had originally been put together as a traditional custom, so Mark's first inclination was to give it a quick scuff-and-buff, a couple of updates, a stronger hot rod look, and then enjoy it for a season and send it on down the road. But when he got the car home and discovered what a truly solid old car it was, he decided to do a full-on buildup and make the car everything it could be.
Starting at the chassis, Mark updated the existing four-link rear suspension with a 9-inch Ford rearend by Danny Miller, and a Heidts front suspension. The frame was stiffened, then the freshly painted 350/350 combo was slipped back between the framerails, and some steelies were stuck on the ends of the axles so the roller was complete. Then to punch up the visuals in the engine compartment he added a pair of Y-block-style rocker covers to the engine with custom-painted Lincoln script and a '50s Cadillac-style air cleaner.
The body was in pretty good shape and only required a tweak here, realignment there, and the ever-present block sanding to get the panels as straight as humanly possible. Mark did have Rick Bales punch a series of louvers in the hood top, but other than that it was mostly about the details and paint to showcase the finished product.
One of the focal points in the interior is the cut-down Olds dash. Someone at some time had cut down an Olds dash to fit the '35 interior, but when the Vintage Air climate control system had been added they had neglected to make the necessary attachments for the defroster vents. So Mark pulled the dash, cut in the vents, and created the necessary ducting. Naturally he took the time to neaten up any imperfections that had been overlooked the first time around and then covered the car in a slick coat of Alabaster urethane. After the dash was finished it was time to concentrate on the remainder of the interior. Mark had always thought the space behind the seats in a coupe was under utilized so when he had the opportunity to design an interior for his car he selected the hardware from a Lear Jet jump seat and built a fold-down back seat that can be used as a seat/small package area-the seat back can also be folded down flat with the trunk floor extending the trunk space-or it can be removed completely. When the engineering was complete and everything was properly fitted, the car was turned over to Nick Mayder where a very nice mix of tan vinyl and tweed was stretched over all the soft surfaces.
It took a year and a half to pull it all together, but the finished product is exactly what Mark had in mind when it all began. The best part is that over time it's proven to be the perfect trip car. It has plenty of luggage space and the down-the-road driveability necessary to put hundreds of effortless, comfortable miles between point A and point B every day. Now that's what real rodding is all about.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
St. Charles, Missouri
1935 Ford Three-window Coupe
The chassis is made up of a stock frame with a bit of reinforcement, a four-link system at the rear connected to a Danny Miller 3.50:1-geared 9-inch Ford rearend and Carrera coilover shocks. At the front there is a Heidts independent setup with another pair of Carreras. Steering is taken care of with a Heidts rack, and braking is a power assist drum in the rear and disc in the front.
The drivetrain is a straightforward 350 Chevy engine with block-hugger headers, a Weiand intake and Edelbrock carb, and an MSD ignition. To give the engine that old-time look, a pair of Y-block-style rocker covers with hand-painted "Lincoln V Eight" script painted on them and a '50s Cadillac-style air cleaner were added. A B&M-equipped 350 Turbo built by "Red Tom" Terbrock in Catawissa, MO, directs the flow of power to the rear. It's a nice, bulletproof combination.
Wheels & Tires
The wheel/tire combination is relatively simple, consisting of orange-painted 15-inch steel wheels wrapped in Coker Classics (5.60-15 front and 9.00-15 rear). For accent, Mark added a set of stainless trim rings and small Ford button caps.
Body & Paint
Because the basic design is so nice, body modifications were kept to a minimum but a few subtle changes were made. The '35 bumpers were replaced with '39-40 Ford bumpers mounted on custom brackets. The bright horizontal trim strips were removed from the louvers on the hood sides, a series of louvers were added to the hood top, and a Hagan fuel door was added to the right rear fender. Unseen modifications included some reshaping of the wheel tub areas for necessary clearance. The taillights are '39 Ford and the running boards are solid steel. Mark redid all the body and paintwork on this car during this buildup.
One of the defining features of the interior is the handcrafted cut-down '50s Olds dash and the "one-off" instrument panel. Auto Meter instruments keep track of what's going on under the hood and Vintage Air climate controls track what's going on in the cabin. The combination of vinyl and tweed was stitched together by Nick Mayder and the folding rear seat was created by Mark using Lear Jet hardware. The column is ididit and the wheel is a leather-covered Billet Specialties item.