Rod & Custom Feature Car
San Clemente, California
1934 Ford 5-window Coupe
It's that old nature versus nurture argument. Was Dustin Odbert genetically predisposed to build a hot rod, or was it because he learned by watching his own parents' behavior? We asked Dustin and his explanation was, "For as long as I can remember hot rods have been a staple in our family. My Grandpa John was a part of the Thunderbolts Car Club in Sacramento and made the yearly pilgrimages to Bonneville. I have pictures of my Great-Uncle Joe chopping and channeling a full-fendered 1934 five-window coupe in my great-grandmother's back yard. I don't think there was any way around it for me. My first memories were getting up before the sun and heading to whatever swap meet was happening that weekend or jumping in my dad's first car, a 1934 Ford five-window coupe bound for Andy's Picnic for the day. Hot rods have always brought our family together so when I got the chance to build my first car it was going to be the same as my dad's, a five-window coupe."
The body on Dustin's rod is a conglomeration of found and fabricated pieces. The back half was a rusted and battered donation to the cause from fellow rodder Bruce Woodward. "The top from the quarter-windows forward was salvaged from a 1934 roof we had in the shop, and the cowl came from the Turlock swap meet along with the doors." Using an English Wheel with Dustin hanging on the other side, his dad wheeled a flat piece of 18-gallon cold roll into a new top. The two formed a driprail, fit the top, and hammer-welded it in. To keep the Caddy theme going the Odberts used a 1933 Cadillac dash they had stashed in the garage rafters, and fit it to the coupe body. The dash had to be narrowed and reworked with a new dash rail that would allow the stock window crank to remain functional. Stewart-Warner gauges were stuffed end to end.
"With the body solid and the doors fitting nicely, we decided it was time to take a bit out of the top. Neither my dad, nor I had ever chopped a top, so friend and legendary body man Bill Madocks came over to lend a hand. Bill recommended that we cut the rear window out and leave it at stock height as we cut 3½ inches out of the top. In doing so we ended up with proportioned windows all the way around."
Once the bodywork was squared away Dustin and his dad hauled the 1934 to a friend's spray booth to shoot it in 1958 Cadillac Cobalt Blue Dupont acrylic lacquer. The final touch was to color sand and rub the lacquer, bringing it to full gloss.
The chassis under Dustin's coupe is an original set of 1934 Ford rails with a few modifications made to set the car's stance. Dustin and his dad patched, re-riveted, and boxed the frame, keeping in mind it was going to be a container intended to hold 365 ci of Cadillac mill. Suspended by a reverse-eye spring the front axle is a 4-inch dropped Super Bell I-beam dampened with Speedway shocks. The spindles are 1940 Ford with 1940 Ford juice brakes, sporting Buick aluminum finned drums drilled to a 5x5.5 bolt pattern. A Vega box connected to a 1946 Cadillac steering column and steering wheel handles steering chores. The rear suspension is a four-link located with a Panhard bar, and sprung with a 1934 Ford spring dampened with Speedway shocks. The differential is a 1952 Ford F-1 equipped with 3.30:1 gears. Later model steel wheels sourced from a Ford F-100 pickup are shod with 6.40-15 and 8.20-15 Coker Firestone bias-ply tires.
Power for the 1934 comes from a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado engine machined and built by Lesco of San Luis Obispo, California. The cylinders were bored 0.30 over and stuffed with 10.0:1 Jahns pistons. The cam is a regrind with a stock profile. Induction comes from two Carter two-barrel carbs on an Offenhauser aluminum intake manifold. A stock Delco coil with points distributor handles the ignition via Autolite plug wires. The tube headers were custom made. The gas tank is a custom made unit that holds a whopping 30 gallons.
A Borg-Warner T5 five-speed transmission with overdrive makes it easy for the Caddy to run all day long at above freeway speeds. The flywheel is a Wilcap matched with a Schaffer pressure-plate and McLeod Racing clutch plate.
After Max Mclain wired the car it was sent to Jimmy Z in Cayucos, California, for a complete interior. Dustin wanted horizontal tuck 'n' roll and that's exactly what Jimmy Z stitched on the cut-down Ford Ranger seat and custom door panels.
Now that the 1934 is done Dustin wracks up miles a few days each week, and plans on driving it to the Salt next summer to help pit for his dad's blown 1929 street roadster.