While it probably didn't seem like a highly esteemed story at the time, we can all get a chuckle over Mike Jonas' first car story now. It all began in 1975 when he entrusted his father with all of his hard-earned landscaping money. Surely his head reeled with automotive delight as he anticipated The Car--the one that would put him in the hearts of the ladies and the minds of the competition.
So, dear ol' dad bought him a '72 Vega. A wagon at that. Hey, it's a sensible car though, right? After all, he got a full week of driving for each quart of oil it burned.
Sadly (or is that funnily?) it's like the common tale of wanting for one thing and getting something completely different. If you read the "Orange Juiced" series we ran in September and October 2002, you'd have read one of those tales. It was another dream car--The Car: a '47 Ford convertible.
Its owner had starry-eyed visions of a wicked orange drop-top sprung by Vette and high on nitrous. In the real world, however, its owner watched as his investment literally crumbled to the floor in a flaky pile. Its owner? Mike Jonas. See a theme here?
Fortunately, this time around Mike had a few more resources and a few more friends. There was no way a little rust could upend a dream this time. So, Utica, New York's Tucci Engineering trimmed what they could salvage from the drop-top and Jonas found a convertible-dimensioned club coupe for a donor body (itself rather rough once disassembled). They stitched the convertible-only components into the coupe platform and assembled the rest from Bitchin Products panels, an EMS rear pan, and hand-fabricated pieces.
The real art, though, came with the body mods. Tucci chopped the windshield one conservative inch, and removed yet another inch from the windshield's header for a 2-inch total chop. They reworked the top mechanism to fit not only the top, but the larger wheelwells they'd fitted to accommodate the bigger rear meats as well.
Along the way, Altamont, New York's Dick Spadaro located four hens'-teeth-rare NOS fenders for the project and Tucci dropped a set of Jeep Liberty headlights into the open sockets, a modification that required narrowing each fender by an inch. While he worked on the front, he also welded the fender halves together and reshaped the fender's character line to follow the wheelwell.
The rather distinctive grille came from three '47 Chevrolet donor cars. They cut, shaped, and welded one car's grille surround to the Ford's frontend. They used the top three bars from one grille and the longer and lower bars from yet another two grilles. To accentuate the now-slippery front profile, Tucci pie-cut the hood an inch at the nose and blended the hood's leading edge into the Chevy grille surround. To punctuate the extremities, they narrowed the bumpers 4 inches and slotted the rear for the LED taillights.
Following the high-tech theme, Jonas picked up a Street & Performance-prepped, RamJet-injected small-block and backed it with a 4L60E trans. Earlier on, Tucci worked in a Bitchin Products floor and big-block-style firewall, which allowed them to set the engine/trans combo further back for better weight distribution. While Tucci's crew worked the tin, Baltimore, Ohio's Progressive Automotive married Vette underpinnings to one of their custom-made kicked-and-narrowed frames. Along the way, Jonas' engineers over at Stainless Steel Brakes whittled up brake components (components that incidentally made their way into SSBC's product lineup). Classic Tube bent up all the chassis plumbing in stainless to finish the underpinnings.
Interior-wise, The Car Shop's Frank Strianese fabricated a dash to resemble a Lincoln piece Jonas saw earlier on. Jonas followed through on the Lincoln theme by robbing a '98 MK VIII of its console, shifter, and seats. They rolled the fabricated dash into the doors and components trimmed from from the Lincoln console. While at it, they lowered and leaned the seats into the cabin.
Strianese and Hersee then worked the tin into shape and Hersee laid on some PPG dubbed, appropriately enough, Mikey Orange. Strianese and Chris Tomasik finished the air ride system, glazed the car, and wired it with a combination of American Autowire and Scosche components, including Scosche dry-cell batteries under the rear seat. Once The Car Shop finished, Ravenna, Ohio's Portage Trim stitched the interior in cream-colored vinyl. Once back at the shop for detailing, Jonas fleshed out the cabin with Sony audio and Dakota Digital gauges.
Of course, there's far more to the story, but we think it illustrates the spirit. Jonas hasn't slowed down a bit, either; he's using the chilly winter months to blow the car apart for the indoor car show season. It's certainly a testimonial to personal character, and without a doubt it's a celebration of The Car.
Portage Trim in Ravenna, Ohio, stitched up butter-soft cream-colored vinyl over the '98 Li
The black wraparound insert in the dash hides a full array of Dakota Digital guages.
Jonas' drop-top sports some pretty innovative tricks, like Jeep Liberty headlights, reshap
As trick as a GM Performance RamJet is in stock form, Jonas' mill still bests it. Street &
Aside from having wind in the hair and power under the foot, Jonas has good sounds at the
MICHAEL and SANDRA JONAS
|Clarence, New York |
1947 Ford convertible
|Frame / Manufacturer ||Ford / Progressive Automotive |
|Chassis plumbing ||stainless |
|Rearend / Ratio ||Dana 44 / 3.73, limited slip |
|Rear suspension ||'91 Corvette, narrowed, Air Ride Technologies' air springs |
|Rear brakes ||Stainless Steel Brakes Force 10; 13" rotors; aluminum, two-piston calipers |
|Front suspension ||'84 Corvette; Thunderbird rack-and-pinion steering; Air Ride Technologies' ShockWaves; '85-87 spindles |
|Front brakes ||Stainless Steel Brakes 12.5" rotors; aluminum two-piston calipers |
|Master cylinder ||custom, chromed |
|Front wheel make, size ||American Racing Torq-Thrust, 17 x 8 |
|Rear wheel make, size ||American Racing Torq-Thrust, 18 x 10 |
|Front tire make, size ||Goodyear F1 Run Flat, 245/45ZR-17 |
|Rear tire make, size ||Goodyear F1 Run Flat, 275/40ZR-18 |
|Gas tank ||polished stainless, in-tank fuel pump |
|Make ||GM Performance RamJet |
|Water pump ||Edelbrock, chrome |
|Cooling fan ||SPAL, chrome |
|Radiator ||Be Cool |
|Alternator ||Master Power, chrome |
|Manifold / Induction ||GM Performance RamJet injection |
|Headers ||Sanderson |
|Exhaust / Mufflers ||2 1/4" stainless / Borla; all polished |
|Other engine facts ||all engine components and induction pieces block-sanded and chromed by Street & Performance, Mena, AR |
|Make ||GM 4L60E |
|Shifter ||Lincoln MK VIII, Lokar reverse/neutral safety switch |
|Driveshaft ||Denny's Driveshafts |
|Body style / Material ||Convertible / steel |
|Body mods ||pie-cut hood, 1" windshield chop, 1" header chop, 2" top chop, smoothed handles, removed vent windows |
|Grille ||'47 Chevrolet |
|Bodywork ||Frank Strianese, Paul Hersee, The Car Shop, Springville, NY |
|Paint type / Color ||PPG Mikey Orange |
|Painter ||Paul Hersee, Springville, NY |
|Headlights / Taillights ||Jeep Liberty / Hi-Tech LED |
|Bumpers ||stock, narrowed 4" |
|Other body items ||third light below top bead; tubbed inner fenders; louvered inner fender panels; turn signals and brake lights in bumpers; shaved door hinges; welded front fender extensions; fenders welded to body |
|Gauges ||Dakota Digital |
|Audio ||Sony 6" coaxial, 10" subwoofers |
|Air conditioning ||Vintage Air |
|Wiring ||American Autowire |
|Steering column / wheel ||ididit / Budnik |
|Seats ||Lincoln MK VIII, modified by Portage Trim, Ravenna, OH |
|Upholsterer ||Portage Trim, Ravenna, OH |
|Material / Color ||tan leather |
|Seatbelts ||Lincoln MK VIII, tan |
|Other interior items ||custom console built from Lincoln unit by Portage Trim |