The small swap meet had some unusual merchandise, like this oddly chopped '34 Ford coupe. The former race car had a filled rear window, extensively louvered decklid, and needed a great deal of work. The STP decals were in pretty good shape.
That photo caption was part of our report on the NSRA Northwest Nationals in Spokane, Washington, in the August 2000 issue of R&C.
John Foxley happened to be at the same event and happened to run across the same coupe. Where we saw an odd-looking lost cause, John saw a real prize. "I had to have it," he told us. We're glad John was able to see what the coupe could be, because what the coupe has become is pretty cool.
The story behind the car is cool, too. The old '33 (turns out it's a '33) was originally built as a racecar. Between 1949 and 1954, the coupe ran on the dry lakes and at the Bonneville salt flats as a flathead-powered rear-engine car. Air intake ducts and exhaust cutouts on the rear quarters were added during those early days. The body had been trimmed to reduce weight; all inner door panels, jambs, and bracing were stripped, and electrical conduit was added as a bare minimum structural support to keep the coupe strong enough to race. After 1954, the car was disassembled and stored in various places, until it finally surfaced at the swap meet in Spokane.
John had to rent a U-Haul trailer to lug the coupe home. Once back in Vancouver, Canada, he and his wife Jennifer began the 3-year buildup, starting with the chassis and floorpan and continuing with the body.
During its racing days, the coupe was treated to a radical chop. John "unchopped" the top 6 inches, raising it to slightly more than 4 inches under stock height. He then re-installed a rear window. The car now runs a more conventional powertrain--a 350/350 engine/trans combo.
One of the most distinctive things about the '33 is found on the inside. To honor its athletic early days, the door panels and headliner were decorated with images of Bonneville and lakes cars.
John, who makes a living creating signs, scanned some of his favorite old photos, and Jennifer printed the pictures on a large-format ink printer and those images were added to the interior.
The day after the car was finished, John and Jennifer drove it back down to Washington and picked up a prize for Magnificent Model 40 at the Goodguys Pacific Northwest Nats. A month later, John had the coupe back in Spokane for a triumphant return to the Northwest Nats, 5 years after he'd dragged it out of the same event. Wonder how many people recognized the winner of the Texaco Havoline Pick as the "unusual merchandise" it once was.
John & Jenn Foxley
Maple Ridge, British Columbia
'33 Ford Three-Window Coupe
Drivetrain: The valve covers might fool you, but it's really an 11.0:1 350 Chevy from an '81 Corvette. John added 1 1/4-inch spacers between the '56 Canadian Pontiac valve covers and Edelbrock Performer aluminum heads for roller rocker clearance, and runs an Edelbrock manifold with six Rochester 2CG two-barrels. The Turbo 350 trans is from an '85 Chevy pickup, modified with a shift-kit, and 3.55:1 rear gears fill a Ford 9-inch.
Chassis: The stock rails were boxed by the owner, and strengthened with a homebuilt crossmember and custom dropped front crossmember. Other front-end mods include a 4-inch dropped tube axle, shocks, and four-bar from Pete & Jakes, reverse-eye springs, '41 Ford spindles, '76 Chevy brakes, and a Vega steering box. In the back, it's Pete & Jakes shocks and '59 Ford drums.
Wheels & Tires: Big 'n' littles are 8.20x15 MT Radir dragster slicks with cheater grooves rolling on 15x8 Wheel Vintiques chrome steelies and skinny Coker wide whites on 15x5s with Moon spider caps.
Body & Paint: In addition to getting unchopped by 6 inches, the top was lengthened 4. The rear window was added, and the window section chopped 3 inches. John restored a '34 grille, and cut the front fender braces for tire clearance. The stock firewall was recessed 4 inches. The trunk louvers were cut circa 1949. Painter Scott Martelli shot the '04 Nissan copper paint. John and Jenn designed the ghost flame layout, which was digitized and computer-cut, and shot in candy red. The checker pattern on the firewall was created from computer-cut vinyl.
Interior: John chopped the base of the center bench from a Mazda MPV van and covered the seat with white vinyl. An Auto Meter gauge cluster and tach were added to the dropped and filled dash, behind a 15-inch Moon slotted steering wheel. No air or stereo on this hot rod. Just some unique photo-graphics of old lakes cars, and--on the center of the dash--an autograph from actor Paul LeMat, who drove a cool coupe of his own as John Milner in American Graffiti.