I was looking for a new project in 2005 and wanted to build an early custom. I wanted to do something subtle and classic that could've been a factory prototype or something you would have seen James Cagney drive in a film noir. I also wanted it to be just as much hot rod as custom and build the drivetrain as if it were in a fenderless '32. It not only needed to look as if it were built 60 years ago, but to drive with the same feel, performance, sound, and comfort as it would've back then.

The search for a project took my friend Gene and I to the Charlotte, North Carolina, AutoFair in the fall of 2005. He was looking for parts for the '32 five-window he was building and I was specifically looking for an early custom project.

I found a guy with a bulletin board full of cars for sale that he brought for his friend Donnie. There were pictures of two '35 Ford three-windows on the board; I had always liked that particular year and model. The swoopy fenders and the grille always drew me in and I had envisioned one with slightly better lines than the designers had given it, as well as some later '40s touches. The pair were priced right and looked complete ... I called Donnie and we left the swap early to make the hour trip north to see the cars.

When we got there, he had both '35s under one carport. I struck a deal for the less expensive of the two and told him I would come back tomorrow with a trailer. I drove the five hours home to Marietta, Georgia, and turned around the next morning with the trailer and made the trip straight back to pick it up. I loaded it up and hated to break up the sibling coupes, but as fate would have it, I would cross paths with the other one again-and it ended up to be the one I would ultimately build.

I got the coupe back to the shop and started dismantling it. Donnie called me a few months later and asked me if I was interested in the other coupe. He had too many projects and needed to move it. I wasn't looking for two coupes but told him I was interested and that I would come with the trailer and take another look. I made the trip back to North Carolina and we struck a deal again. I loaded up the sister coupe and headed back to Marietta. After I got back, I realized that each coupe had its share of pros and cons, but the second one was a better candidate for chopping since someone had put a steel roof insert in it at some point that ruined the original channel and really shrunk the metal around it. It needed to be cut out. I made a call to my friend Norman and offered him the first coupe I bought. He bought it with plans to build a '36 out of it.

I didn't really start on the actual build for a few years. I spent a lot of time searching for the right parts that I wanted to use. I found nice original, N.O.S. parts even though some of the items I was looking for are reproduced. That was a lot of the fun. Meeting new people in the process and calling some friends to help beat the "parts" bushes. It seems there was a story for every part I found.