Dream Car of the Month
The '49-50 Ford, like the stalwart '49-51 Merc or '32 highboy, has become somewhat stale. I'm not saying the typical, well-executed hot rod or custom isn't a joy to behold. No sir, I'm just saying let's mix it up a bit for Pete's sake! Tradition with a twist. More to the point, I want to showcase what can be done with more emphasis on effort and style over money and excess. Granted, the roadster-ized shoebox shown on these pages would take any number of fun tickets to build. But really, aside from the custom faux folding top, the rest is attainable by careful craftsmanship utilizing the existing tin.
Seems the latest generation of Rod & Custom readers will only use the "new for '49" slab-sider for sled material. That's all fine and well, but how about a shoe with a bit more funk? Yeah, some nasty hot rod rake, a set of '37 wide-five wheels running inside Coker's dirt track combo of grooved and ribbed Firestones. A sexy, albeit non-functioning, baby buggy-style top (maybe make it functional-it's only more fab time!). Enlarge the stock wheel arches a skosh, keeping them the same in shape, just increased vertically and forward. Might take a donor 'box for extra fender lip material, although the seasoned tin wranglers will shape their own filler pieces ... naturally. Rework the stock suspension with some aftermarket spindles and springs or a Mustang II derived kit. A healthy C-notch and some blocks or lowered leaf springs, maybe a set of truck-style trailing arms on 'bags or coilovers. Heck, you fellows can figure out the chassis, I have faith in y'all. All I ask is to give it a little forward tilt!
This car could be built using a sedan or coupe or, of course, a convertible, but if you have a model with a tin top, you'll need to break out with the masking tape, some Sharpies, a Sawzall, and a TIG welder and roll yourself some roadster door tops out of steel-no side glass ... yeah, it's a roadster now! And I would imagine some floor reinforcement would be in line with this modification, as you'll want to be able to open the doors more than once. One of the few outsourced items this car needs are front and rear bumpers. Perhaps a couple sets of early Camaro or Vega, maybe Mustang or Maverick (Pinto, Vette) units would get you the needed shapes. We need to slice the front and rear valance panels up to just behind the bumpers, don't forget to flange a small 90-degree angle along the edges for a factory-esque appearance and to save from slicing fingers down the road! You might consider thinning the inner doors and rear quarters to set the roadster vibe up a notch or two.
The interior would also utilize existing stock components, just cleaned up and more refined. Keep the stock bench seats, big-diameter steering wheel, maybe a more hot-roddy dash insert, upgrade the carpet and materials for the seats and door panels. Remember, keep it simple and keep it clean!
I thought the color choices would be the key in driving home this "concept custom" hot rod. To that end, I'm thinking instant old in the way of antique-ish tones for the body, top, and the interior. Rusts, ochre hues, maybe mustard, and definitely a dark brownish green top. The clincher, of course, is the tried-and-true shocking hot rod orange for the wheels and probably the engine, too.
That's right folks, there's a myriad of ways to build a traditionally styled rod or custom that still gives homage to our romantic, exciting heritage while allowing us to quench our creative urges! And remember kids, don't be afraid to think outside the shoebox!