Back when I was a grunt at STREET RODDER magazine, I was asked (told) to visit a shop down in Wildomar, California, called Fat Jack’s. Whether or not it was a baptism by fire is speculative (Fat Jack is quite the character), but rather than scurrying out of there with my tail between my legs, I developed a number of long-term relationships—including one with Ryan Reed, who at the time was cutting his teeth in the trade much like myself (it’s probably safe to say we both earned a good portion of our thicker skin thanks to Jack’s).
A graduate of the Cal Bug scene as a teen just as I was surely added to our common interests, but in Ryan’s case, it helped mold the type of hot rod builder he’s become (but that mold started with his late father who immersed Ryan into the gearhead culture at an early age). His tenure at SO-CAL Speed Shop—another fabricator’s think-tank—followed Fat Jack’s as his final stepping-stone before embarking on his solo gig, Reed’s Ride Designs. However, previous to his departure from shop manager to business owner, Ryan had already embarked on his personal ride design, a ’37 Ford Standard coupe he’d purchased from his older brother.
While still at SO-CAL, Ryan had gotten so far as to completing the entire chassis in his spare time afterhours. Once on his own, within the confines of his home shop he was able to squeeze in time with his ’37 on nights and weekends—that is, as long as his duties as a new dad had been met. Over the course of the following two years, Ryan managed to juggle raising his son, Carson, finishing the coupe, and everything he could to help get his new venture up and running. By December 2011, his garage housed the finished product you see here today.
Like myself, Ryan is very detail-oriented, and I’m not just talking about the organization of the tool drawers or the cleanliness of the shop floor, though those are indeed but two things he manages to constantly stay on top of. When I say details, I mean the little things, stuff many people rarely sweat—and in some cases, rarely notice. As Pat Ganahl described in his The Rodder’s Journal interpretation of the ’37 last year (TRJ #52), the oxymoron of subtlety and hot rods is in itself contradicted with Ryan’s coupe. He’s taken the subtleness of a stocker and, with equally subtle and often transparent details, created his own rodded juxtaposition, if that makes sense? Regardless how you look at it, or who’s doing the looking for that matter, it’s impossible to appreciate not only all the details, but all the effort it took incorporating them into the car. But that’s precisely what Ryan was after—not a flashy Ford typical of the fat-fendered fodder he was surrounded by early in his career, rather one that still had the profile, stance, and underhood attitude but in a semi-stock appearance.
In stark contrast to what would be considered your typical restorod, Ryan’s coupe is anything but a lowered, small-block–powered stocker ... not anymore, at least (it was just that when he first acquired it from his brother, Robert). While indeed it is low—quite low at that, and without the aid of any pneumatic devices—and equipped with what may at first appear as traditional five-spokes, not to mention painted and upholstered in an OE manner, it’s deceptively more hot rod than most, well, hot rods.
Initially, Ryan had envisioned leaving the ’37 in its previously restored state exterior-wise but completely going through the car’s underpinnings. Obviously, that image didn’t last too long, assumingly a victim to his obsession to details. In the end, his penchant for perfection led to him designing/building the Ford his way—in every way. But he didn’t go it alone, even when he was working alone. Help from Robin “Silky” Silk, Evin Veasie, John Reid, and especially friend and fellow Fat Jack’s/SO-CAL alumni Aaron Broughton (now operating Foothill Fabrication) went a long way toward putting the coupe on the road … and keeping it on the road.