Tom Crow's history with all things automotive began back in high school when he purchased his first car, a '55 Chevy two-door, off his brother for the hefty some of $100. Since that time, it had been a steady diet of rods until one day when Tom decided he wanted to build a roadster. He put the word out on the street and soon received a call from Eric Peratt of Pinkee's Rod Shop. It seemed that Eric knew of a '36 Ford roadster for sale in nearby Denver. A few more phone calls were made and soon the car was en route to Eric's Colorado-based shop. The 70-year-old car was in less than desirable condition, but given its age and scarcity, Tom decided to make do with what he had. The floor was gone from the roadster, as were two fenders and the grille. It was time to hit the swap meets in earnest to search for the missing pieces. But this is where the story takes an interesting, and perhaps familiar, twist. Tom was looking for parts for his '36 when he heard about a steel '41 Willys coupe and chassis for sale that was in excellent shape. A decision would have to be made. He already had a project car in the works, but Tom was not one to pass up on a good deal, so arrangements were made to purchase the Willys. But he still needed parts to his '36. Tom was soon put in contact with Bob Everts in Arizona and picked up the missing fenders and grille. The '36 was now complete enough to consider starting the build.
Pinkee's Rod Shop seemed like the obvious choice to perform most of the bodywork and so the majority of the car remained in Colorado. Meanwhile, Tom got on the horn and ordered up a complete Total Cost Involved chassis to slide under the Ford sheetmetal. While Eric and his crew hammered the steel back to Henry's original specs, Tom assembled and detailed the chassis. A Mustang II-based independent frontend was hung off each side of the framerails up front on Koni coilover shocks and Wilwood 11-inch disc brakes. The spindles were dropped 2 inches to bring the front of the roadster closer to Mother Earth and rack-and-pinion steering swings the spindles in the right direction. Out back, a Currie-prepped 9-inch Ford rearend puts the power to the pavement and rides on a similar setup with Koni coilover shocks and Wilwood disc brakes, located by a four-link. Roll bars fore and aft keep the body sway to a minimum, as does the rear panhard bar. A quartet of polished, 15-inch Halibrand Sprint wheels rolls on Firestone rubber at all corners.
Tom likes to drive his hot rods, so a GM Performance Parts 350ci LS1 Chevy was dropped between the 'rails adorned with plenty of polished goodies to boot. Topping off the gorgeous mill is a fully polished Imagine Injection eight-stack, electronically controlled fuel injection system. Street & Performance headers spend the exhaust gasses out a thermal-coated exhaust system through Flowmaster mufflers. Backing the crate engine is a Chevy 4L60E. The electronic overdrive trans gives Tom all the adjustability in the world to fine-tune his ride just the way he wants it.
While the chassis was being put together in California, Pinkee's shop was tearing into the body out in Colorado. Many subtle modifications were made to the body while other more major improvements were being made. The team lowered the stock headlights 3/4-inch, shortened the taillight stanchions and bumper brackets 3 inches, and mated the hood sides to each relative hood top to form what is essentially a two-piece hood. The windshield posts were also heavily modified, being not only chopped 2 inches, but also tilted back and formed with the cowl.
Once the chassis was finished, it was sent out to Colorado to be introduced to its other half. Pinkee's fit the body to the chassis, hung the doors, and did any final adjustments needed to mate the two together before the car was shipped back out to California. Tom held onto the car at his place for a month or two to enjoy the nearly finished project and to blow it back apart before sending it over to Tim Beard at HRR for the final bodywork and paint. Tim blocked out the body and got it into impeccable shape before blowing DuPont Chinese Red over all the original steel. As Tim finished painting sections, Tom was busy at home reassembling the car. When it came time to wire the roadster, Tom took it to Custom Wiring where Richard Wells worked his magic to bring all the electronic components together in perfect harmony. With the wiring done, the car was back at Tom's garage and the time had come to hang the front sheetmetal and doors. Once again, Tim Beard was called upon to give his able hand and expertise in making everything fit together perfectly.
The car was starting to look like a finished product with just one more thing missing-upholstery. Tom's unfinished roadster was sent on one last road trip to Armando's Auto Upholstery in San Jacinto, California, to get the tan leather interior stitched up over the Glide seat, door, and kicker panels, as well as the headliner and the dark brown wool carpet.
Upon completion early this year, Tom and wife Sheryl's maiden voyage in their newly completed roadster was a trip down to the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California, where they came home with a Best In Class award for their trouble. Not a bad start! And remember that Willys Tom picked up mentioned at the beginning of the story? We hear the upholstery shop is just about finished stitching it up. With both cars done, the only decision the Crow family will have to make this summer is which hot rod to take out!