Rod & Custom Feature Car
Dan Ulreich
Joliet, Illinois
1962 Ford Falcon

You know the saying, phrase, what have you, about the (insert specialized profession) who never has (insert specialized product) of his/her own? More often than not, that best describes the automotive painter, but just as easily applies to car builders in general, as well. Who's got time for personal projects if they want to keep customers happy anyway, right? Mostly right.

There's no better way to fully showcase one's talents than with a finished product of their own. Joliet, Illinois' Dan Ulreich fits the above mentioned to a tee, as he's not only a custom painter, but bodyman and fabricator to boot. That said, it would come as little to no surprise if he were to never have the time to finish up a personal project. But that, obviously, is not the case.

It was around three years ago that a friend was looking to get rid of a 1962 Ford Falcon he'd recently acquired out of Arizona. It was known that the initial intentions were to build a Gasser. Having a personal affinity for high-nosed 1960s racers himself, the fueled seeds were planted, and all it took for Dan to become the next caretaker was one look at the super-solid sedan.

The 1962 was hauled to Midwest Hot Rods in nearby Plainfield where Dan immediately asked his shop hand and fellow fabricator/bodyman, Derek Smunt, if he'd help with the project. The two set off on what was thought to be a simple 10- to 12-month build—but as we all know, simple and on-time are two things that rarely go hand in hand with hot rod projects.

Smunt took to the Falcon's foundation first, integrating a Speedway Motors straight-axle frontend and ladder bar 8-inch rear via tubular frame connectors, which also facilitate an eight-point rollcage. He continued transforming the unibody's newly constructed chassis by tying up the steering, fabbing motor mounts for a forthcoming five-speed–backed SBF stroker, as well as the fenderwell headers through which the 347 now breathes.

While Smunt was doing his thing, Dan began on the sheetmetal chores: front roll pan, grafting in 1971 Mustang rear quarters (to avoid radiusing the wheel openings for wheel/tire clearance, but also to match the stock front openings), and crafting a custom aluminum grille, among other things. Of course Dan continued by exercising both his bodyworking and paint skills, ultimately producing the finest non-candy candy-looking finish this editor's ever laid eyes on (it's actually 2010 Corvette Crystal Red). The wheel choice, a combination of shiny 10-spoke ETs and Halibrand replicas, further enhances the paint's mesmerizing ability.

While the exterior's as eye-catching as can be, the interior, on the other hand, is quite the opposite, just as it should be. Dave Purney took care of the upholstery needs, adorning the Falcon's cockpit with yards of diamond-pleated black vinyl—from the seats to the door/kick panels to the package tray—giving that just-right 1960s feel.