If this 1936 Ford coupe looks familiar, it should, and not just because of its obvious Westergard influence, or its similarity to the Calori or Jon Fisher coupes. It's because you've seen this car on the pages of Rod & Custom before-at the bare metal stage. Subscribers even saw it on the cover. This time, however, it's finished, it has racked up some mileage under its tires, and the teething problems have been ironed out. At least owner John Mearns would like to think they have.
We're not sure he could stand pulling it apart even one more time. "Everyone [who's worked on it] hates this car," he told us. "It seems cursed! The 'rebuilt' 265 Chevy engine originally fitted lasted 2,000 miles, then only 800 miles after the second rebuild." Of course swapping it out meant stripping all the front sheetmetal from the now-finished and painted coupe. "That's when I replaced it with a fresh 327 from Taylor Engines and I haven't had any trouble since. The trans has been rebuilt too since it's been on the road, and the power steering rack had to be replaced." John hastened to add that none of the problems were in any way the fault of anyone who worked on the car, but were down to parts he supplied. He also didn't mention the first roof chop, which very nearly saw the project stop before it got underway.
We won't repeat what we wrote about the car in that bare metal feature back in June 2008, but after John had the roof chopped, badly, by an un-named shop, he could barely look at the coupe for over six months. Then he struck up a conversation with Jeb Scolman, of Jeb's Metal & Speed, at the airport terminal on the return leg of a trip to the Mooneyes show in Yokohama in 2006, during which Scolman agreed to come over and look at the coupe. With John keen to get the project back on track, Scolman, with his usual calm and calculated demeanor, said, "Let's fix the chop. If we can do that we'll do the rest."
Of course you know "the rest" as the coupe stayed with Scolman until it went to the paint shop. It was the first full build Scolman undertook when he branched out on his own under the Jeb's Metal & Speed moniker.
With John taking on the role of designer/architect and Scolman tasked with executing the ideas that formulated from their discussions, the goal was to build a car that was at a glance a late '40s or early '50s Westergard-style car, but one that was not a dead copy of anyone else's car out there. That's not easy because there is a pretty narrow design path to follow or you run the risk of having it look too modern or not fit the genre. "We used styling cues from the Calori coupe, Jon Fisher's car, and some others we saw along the way, whose owners are unknown to us."
Inspiration also came at shows. For instance, John and Scolman were walking the rows of cars at the Lone Star Roundup when they spied an old Ford '36 three-window coupe that had '34 Chevy hood sides with its nose protruding from the cars around it. The long horizontal twin louvers on the hood sides immediately grabbed their attention and the decision was made right then to do the same. John sourced a complete hood on their return from Texas, and in a twist of fate, it turned out to be from a Master DeLuxe, which has three rows of louvers and still had the stainless trim intact. Until that point, John was unaware of this trim option, as the hood he'd seen in Austin had been from a standard coupe. Of course, those trim pieces suit the style of the '36 perfectly!