Hand-me-downs usually come in the form of high-water jeans with worn-out knees or sweaters with mustard stains, right? Not always. At least not in this case, as Mike Carlson couldn’t quite wear what his father eventually passed down to him. But it almost didn’t come to be, as Mike is about to tell—a case of teenage temptation that initially netted a lengthy grounding, but fortunately, led to a happy ending.

“The car was purchased by my father in Sacramento in 1965. My dad had been looking for a pre-war Ford for a long time. He was especially fond of the ‘ugly ’38’ as he called it, because many were still around. Dad found it in driveable condition for $650—my mother was pissed since that was over a month’s pay for him back then! He worked on the car on and off for a few years, but basically kept it parked in our front yard. (Dad was considered ‘not real people’ with our neighbors because of this!)

“Unbeknownst to my dad in the beginning, I drove the car several times to high school in the late ’60s, not caring that it wasn’t registered or insured. When he found out, after the usual yelling and being grounded, he removed the driveshaft—and it remained that way for about 20 years.”

The story doesn’t end there, obviously, and while the tides weren’t exactly stable, as mentioned, there is a positive light at the end of the tunnel—a Candy Tangerine tinted one at that.

“My parents moved to Las Vegas in the ’80s, and of course the car followed. Dad was a pretty good ‘shade tree’ mechanic and eventually got the Ford running and in pretty good shape. But by the mid-’90s, they both became ill and began to ‘disperse’ their belongings; the sedan and a Model A ended up in my possession, namely since I had the history with the cars, not to mention being ‘guilted’ into finally registering the ’38.

“I began the project around 1995, and to make a long story short, what Dad thought would become a fully restored ’38 Standard has become one of the coolest hot rods in Sacramento. While I’m sure he would say he was disappointed that it was not restored, down deep he would love the car, because Dad, too, was a true rodder at heart and loved to see anything that could go real fast and look good at the same time.”

That “looking good” and “going fast” came to be thanks to Sacramento’s Blue Collar Customs. Its good looks, most notably a 4-inch chopped top, are not only coated in PPG orange pearl but accented by glimmering chrome and polish courtesy of AAA Plating and Radir custom wheels (which are shod in BFGoodrich Silvertown radial whitewalls). The looks carry on below the lowered lid, as well, with an aged brown leather interior. The fast part was deftly handled by Rex Hutchenson Racing Engines in the form of a ’93 Ford HO302 with a year/model matching AOD transmission all integrated into the Heidts Mustang II–equipped modified-stock frame by Blue Collar.

A restored pre-war Ford it’s not. And while that may not have been what Father knew best way back when, we agree with Mike’s sentiments—his dad would definitely be proud of his son’s “rebel” results!

Rod & Custom Feature Car

Mike Carlson

Sacramento, California

1938 ford standard