Hidden Treasures

Ever wonder where all the old hot rods went? Seems there's still some real steel around, if you look in some fairly unexpected places. Case in point is the 34 Ford 5-window coupe shown above. This is the sort of reward that can result from being patient and diplomatic.

It seems that David Kelley, who has already returned the late Jimmie Fulghum's timeless 32 Ford coupe to regular street duty with a traditional re-do, found this modest 34 Ford hiding in a Dallas area garage some years ago. Originally hot rodded in North Carolina sometime in the mid-twentieth century, this 5-window was simply biding it's time until it's owner regained enough interest in the car to put it back into service. So David made a mental note, and dropped a hint that if the car ever were to become available, he should probably be notified. Then he wisely kept in touch. This coupe has some typical early 1960's modifications, such as a small block Chevy engine, chrome reverse wheels, and juice brakes, but otherwise, it's remarkably original all the way down to the mohair interior and the mostly pristine signature Ford grille.

Well guess what? Last year during a garage clean-out, it was decided that the 34 needed a new home and David got that call. It took years of waiting, and the removal of numerous kites and kiting supplies from it's interior, but David wasted no time in seizing the opportunity and bringing the car back to Memphis. Since this one has a certain natural patina, but is otherwise pretty well preserved, plans are to give it a mild re-do and simply enjoy having a driver at the ready. The bent Chevy engine will need a modest freshening, and the wiring is pretty much a rat's nest, but it shouldn't take too much effort to get this one back on the road where it belongs. Not a bad find if what you really want is real steel.

Or you could inherit a premium old Ford and be good to go after some needed service work. I found this cool old 40 Deluxe Coupe prowling through midtown Memphis after work one evening. Seems it was at a local garage getting some needed mechanical servicing in order to to keep it roadworthy. The owner had recently inherited the car and was willing to spend the cash to put it back on the road, but it was not undergoing a top to bottom street rod style face-lift. The car is remarkably stock, including the flathead V8 engine. Looks like it's seen a re-paint that is now somewhat checked and cracked, and the running boards have received some damage from a hydraulic lift, but it's pretty close to being fully functional as is. Could it be acquired with some sly negotiation? I'm not sure, but it seems possible. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like I was sly enough to talk the owner out of of this premium find what with the discretionary piggy bank looking a bit underfunded at the time I encountered this 70 year old Ford, but maybe you would have more sway?

Or you could go swap meet hunting. The inner gearhead in me has a soft spot for tri-five Chevys, so I was struck by the sight of this complete but crusty 1955 2-door Bel Air sedan at the recent Goodguys Nashville Nationals. It was described as a "barn find", and had the obligatory surface rust, but otherwise appeared to be a pretty good foundation for a proper project car. The 10K price tag was a bit of a shock though, so rehearsing your negotiating skills might be advisable before you hit the swap meet scene in earnest.

Next door to the 55 was this 37 Ford coupe. Most assuredly rough, but the body was complete and salvageable, with that added extra attraction of being genuine Ford steel. It was a mere 7K (ahem), but it would require a sizable amount of restoration to be considered a good foundation for that dream rod in your head. When I was a pup, I knew where 3 of these things were (as slant back sedans) within blocks of my high school. Could've should've would've... hindsight is 20/20.

Point is that vintage stuff is still around, just a little harder to come by and likely a good bit pricier than when it was fairly common. Keep your eyes open and be nosey. Peek into back yards and business in older parts of your town, and you might be surprised at what can turn up.

Happy hunting!