Very few single elements can separate a rod from a custom, but one item tops the list of making a custom a custom, and the element that most screams "custom" has to be a pair of fender skirts. Back in the '40s and '50s, skirts were readily available at local auto parts stores, but today original skirts have skyrocketed in price and have become nearly impossible to find for the early models. Customizers from the very beginning have mixed pieces from different makes and models to enhance the lines and looks of their rides, so of course just popping on a set of original skirts would be out of the question. Early customizers preferred the sweeping bubble skirts from high-end models like Lincolns, Buicks, and Chryslers, and later the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser skirt became a must-have item.

The 1936 Ford has always been a favorite fodder of customizers, and the skirt of choice was the graceful teardrop-shaped bubble skirt used on Lincoln Zephyrs from the same period. This style of skirt has long been on the "unobtanium" list, so making a pair from scratch has become the best answer to achieving custom nirvana.

We followed along as a pair of Zephyr-style skirts were made for a '36 Ford and we were surprised how relatively easy the project was given the stunning results. Note that the technique used is close to the same process used when reskinning a vehicle door, and the tools required are the same ones found in the shops of most do-it-yourself customizers.