Send us out to the streets, cruises, and car shows of California, and we can tell you which rods and customs are new, which have been around awhile, which have been freshened up, and which have undergone major revamps recently. That's because we're from here and see the local iron all the time. You can probably do the same thing in the part of the country where you live.
Drop us off in a different part of the country, and with some exceptions, we are less familiar with the histories of the cars of that region. So when we saw Dusty Gostovich's gold '41 Ford for the first time in Knoxville last year, we didn't know that the car had just been finished and was making its big debut. All we knew was that this was an incredibly cool, one-of-a-kind '41 custom rod with a long list of mods.
As it turns out, there was a lot more we didn't know about this car. Although built recently, it's been almost 20 years since Dusty brought the stock-condition Ford home from western Pennsylvania, where it had been hibernating under a plastic drop cloth. The flattie-powered '41 continued to lie dormant in olive drab paint on Dusty's property until about five years ago when he finally got the urge to build up the old coupe and put it back on the street. Before the job was done, the car would go through a pretty amazing transformation.
Plan A was to whack the top completely off and replace it with a Carson top. As you can see, plans changed. Instead of going the topless route, Dusty decided to turn the car into a hardtop. A couple of bodyworker pals, Charles Simpson and Jay Henry, helped him take 4 1/2 inches out of the top, lose the B-pillars, and lean the windshield posts back. By cutting the top from the deck, sliding it forward 3 1/2 inches, and lengthening the deck, they were able to elongate and streamline the profile of the fat-fendered car. The effect was sustained with rear fender skirts, shaved '41 convertible doors, and a monochromatic paint job using Sikkens Gold.
Since the '41 was introduced to the world in Knoxville last year, it has become a familiar sight to East Coast enthusiasts. Dusty has shown the unique hardtop at several national and local shows in the East, picking up trophies at most of them. In between those prize-winning weekends, he enjoys driving the car around southern New Jersey.
Something else we didn't know? Dusty's got approximately a dozen more rods in various phases and is getting started on a '40 coupe. We asked him to describe it for us, which he didn't want to do other than to say that, just like he did with his '41 hardtop, he wants to "try something different."
Vlade "Dusty" Gostovich
Pine Hill, New Jersey
'41 Ford Hardtop
Drivetrain: The '41 was running the factory flathead back when it was still an ordinary coupe. Dusty wanted something more up-to-date and replaced the flattie with a stock GM 350 backed up with a 700-R4. The intake and carburetor are from Edelbrock, capped with a '50 Cadillac air cleaner. Hedman headers funnel the exhaust to a pair of Vortec mufflers. The custom firewall and inner fenders have been kept super clean and painted to match the body color.
Chassis: It's all new componentry underneath too. The Roadster Shop in Elgin, Illinois, provided a Stage 3 chassis with an independent front suspension setup from Heidt's Hot Rod Shop. The car is sprung with rear leafs and front coilovers, with tubular shocks at all corners, and has a Chassis Engineering antisway bar in front. Power steering is provided by a Ford rack-and-pinion unit. Ford brakes, discs in front and drums in the rear, bring everything to a quick halt.
Wheels & Tires: Considering all the custom rod mods, plus the modern paint and techy interior, some guys might've opted for low-profile rubber and jumbo billet rims. We think Dusty made a better choice with 15-inch Vintiques steel rims in front and solids in the rear, wrapped with wide white BFGs purchased from Coker (225s in back, 185s in front).
Body & Paint: The original '41 body was turned into a chopped hardtop by Dusty, Charles Simpson, and Jay Henry, with much of the work done at Special Interest Auto Body. In addition to the top and door mods, the dual antennas were frenched into the right rear fender. The rear bumper from a '50 Merc wagon was used in front to show off the grille; the rear bumper is a '49 Merc front bumper. Taillights are from Gene Winfield. The gold is an '01 Acura color that caught Dusty's eye as from the highway as he passed a dealership and was sprayed in John's Auto Body in Westmont, New Jersey.
Interior: Mid-'60s Thunderbird buckets, along with the door panels, were dressed in leather by John Baccaro of EVT Upholstery in Pennsauken, New Jersey. The customized T-bird console houses the controls for the Vintage Air A/C system as well as for the 12-disc CD changer. Half a dozen Dolphin gauges fill the custom dash. The steering wheel is from Billet Specialties. The windows, doors, antennas, and decklid are all controlled by remote.