Was it a big thrash for Bob Bruhn to finish this car in time for the 2001 Grand National Roadster Show? Yes and no. The buildup was completed just in time to get to the show, where Bob’s ’40 won First Place in the Hot Rod Sedan 1940-1948 class. Then again, he’s owned this car for 22 years.

For the first 10 of those years, the car served as a regular driver until the 327 gave out. Then Bob decided he wanted to chop the top—or maybe not. The decision to hot rod the ’40, countered by indecision as to how and the distraction of a couple other rods, put the project on the back burner for another decade. Finally, two years ago, Bob was ready to start cutting.

Rather than take the coat-of-paint-and-set-of-wheels route, Bob opted for a full top-to-bottom, front-to-back, body-off rebuild. He enlisted the help of longtime personal friends, Sam and Chip Foose, who provided some design ideas and a color rendering of the restyled car. The frame was replaced by a TCI custom frame, and the original steel sedan shell was treated to a bunch of imaginative custom touches—especially impressive when you consider that Bob did the majority of the work himself at home.

During the transformation from neglected street sedan to GNRS-winning hardtop, the ’40 was dubbed Mirage, an appropriate name for a rod as unreal as this one.

For the trip from Solvang, California, to LA for this photo shoot, Bob hauled the ’40 in an enclosed trailer. Of course, we eventually started bugging him about putting the car on the road. The view from the driver seat ought to be orange hood and highway, especially considering how Mirage’s reformation into a street rod actually improved its reliability and driveability. Bob’s got a few more high-zoot rod shows to compete in, but promised us that plans include putting the car on the road by the middle of the year. We know you’re reading this Bob, and we’re looking for your Mirage on the road.