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.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1937 Ford Standard Coupe
There are two aspects of the chassis beneath Ryan Reed’s coupe that may surprise you: One, it doesn’t have airbags, or for that matter, any type of adjustable suspension; and two, he’s running a dropped tube axle, not an IFS. So, that said, you can imagine what lengths he took to not just get the ’37 to sit as it does, but to drive as near a new car as possible with that ride height. The tube axle in question is from Magnum (5-inch drop), as are the spindles and transverse leaf. In the rear, a Currie 9-inch is located with a set of Pete & Jakes ladder bars and rides on Viper coilovers; Ryan custom-fit sway bars front and back. Steering is Vega cross-link style.
Underhood is a 400hp crate 350 from Year One (with Holley induction/MSD ignition/Sanderson headers), backed by a McLeod Racing–equipped Muncie M20 four-speed assembled by New Zealander Robin “Silky” Silk. Among other things, Ryan hand-fabbed the complete exhaust system (minus the Flowmasters), custom accessory bracketry (including low-mount alternator), and hand “re”built a deep-sump oil pan to accommodate steering linkage clearance.
Wheels/Tires & Brakes
Normally we’d include the brakes with the chassis specs, but since the fronts are so integral to the wheels they mount we’ll make an exception this time! If you hadn’t already noticed, the American Racing five-spokes so neatly tucked within the front fenders are spindle mounts … for the most part. With the help of Mike Curtis (Curtis Speed), Ryan used custom-machined hubs that feature a hidden five-lug mounting surface in which the 15x3.5 (yes, that narrow—they’re actually made for drag racing) Americans to 11-inch Wilwood rotors that use a single-piston GM caliper. The International five-spoke rears are 16x8.5 with traditional exposed lugs mounting 11-inch drums. Front tires are 145R15 Coker-Firestone radials; rears are Continental 255/70R16s.
Body & Paint
Despite its deceiving looks, the Standard coupe has quite a number of custom touches and modifications, most the latter of which contribute to the car’s tight-tolerance fit and finish. For instance, the trunk and its sill were both sectioned, material was added to each door edge, and the lower front hood lip raised—all to achieve consistent, uniform gaps throughout. Furthermore, both bumpers and their brackets have been reworked so that each blade better fits/contours the body. Abe Rodriguez (Abe’s Custom Painting, Riverside, CA) handled the final bodywork before applying the PPG Cordoba Tan waterbase paint that Ryan had custom-mixed by longtime friend Scott Smith (SoCal PPG rep). Dennis Ricklefs provided the beltline pinstripe. All exterior brightwork is courtesy G&A Metal Polishing.
Keeping in tune with his pseudo-resto theme, Ryan chose not to go with leather for the interior, opting instead for tan-colored broadcloth to cover the stock bench seat, side panels, and headliner and brown square-weave carpet over the flooring—all of which Gabe Lopez handled at his San Bernardino, CA, shop. The coupe’s stock dash now features Classic Instruments gauges (rear mounted for factory appearance) while a reproduction Vette wheel tops the original column, now hung via a LimeWorks drop. What you can’t see are the stereo components, which is just how Ryan and Audio Shoppe’s Alan Hickman wanted it. The hidden system features Arc Audio amps/drivers with a V8Audio controller.