There's little doubt that the "barn find" appearance on any street rod will bring out the curious. Everyone loves to hear a good story about the one that was found in a barn, behind a shed, locked up in a garage for five decades, that sort of history.
Nowadays, a little imagination can take something that wasn't and make it something that is. Patina, a rod culture buzzword, has caused many a car to jump in its aesthetic value because of its apparent sheetmetal history-or what appears to be vintage tin!
Todd Varble of West Los Angeles, California, found himself wanting a piece of history one day-vintage tin with all of its character intact, derived from years of exposure-but the thought of spending years gathering parts and the time required wasn't so appealing. Instead, he achieved the look he wanted along with a well-engineered street rod that is safe, reliable, and racks up 30 mpg on the highway. In effect, he made his "piece of history" by taking components available to him today and applying "yesterday" to the '37 Ford coupe.
What about the barn find '37 Ford coupe? Well, it started innocently enough while attending the Goodguys Bakersfield event in '05. Todd found himself longing for a rat rod, but he was short on construction time. After wandering the vendors area, he saw this nifty looking fiberglass '37 Ford three-window coupe from Oze Rod Shop out of Quebec, Canada, sitting in their booth.
Todd took delivery two months later, and in the interim drew sketches of what he thought the car should look like, and the final effort is surprisingly close to the original drawings. The '37 came with 4 inches taken out of the top, sectioned 4 inches, and channeled 4 inches resting on an Oze frame featuring an MII frontend, and a Ford 9-inch rearend attached through a triangulated four-bar. The braking is made up of Mustang II disc brakes in front and '80s-era Ford T-bird discs in back with a Wilwood proportioning valve and a Corvette master cylinder from Master Power Brakes. Shocks come by way of Pete & Jake's while the air suspension comes from Air Ride Technologies. At the corners are steelies from Wheel Smith, measuring 15x7 in front and 15x8 in back, all wrapped with Dayton 215/65R15 in front and 255/65R in back and purchased from the Whitewall Candy Store in Orange, California. Helping negotiate the steering is a rack-and-pinion with a Flaming River column and a LeCarra wheel.
A traditional cluster five-pack of gauges (Auto Meter antique beige series) wraps around a
Slow down-at first glimpse, you may think Ardun-powered Flathead, but closer inspection sa
The Ardun mockup heads are bolted to the Chevy LS1 valve covers, completing the faux Flath
The seat was made by Todd and upholstered in an off-white (vanilla) vinyl by Pete Egan of
A Mexican-style blanket is the seat and upholstery in back, while the continuing theme of
The Oze dash is outfitted with an extended bezel (bucket) that houses the Auto Meter tach.
The roof has all the earmarks of decades of patina when in reality it is a fiberglass top
The shifter used on the 4L60E trans comes by way of Lokar. With the overdrive and 2.70 gea
Patina followed by rust followed by pinholes in the metal ... well almost. The pinholes in
But the story is in the body and how it came to look like a relic rescued from the '50s. Patina is the key, actually faux patina transformed this fresh piece of fiberglass into what appears to many as an original-steel '37 Ford coupe with all of its history in tact. (Patina is the result of corrosive action of various chemicals upon metals when exposed to different kinds of atmosphere, like being buried in soil or immersed in some type of water such as seawater. Then there is faux patina, the appearance of character gained through years of natural processes, but brought about through the use of modern chemicals.)
To begin the vintage process, Todd took steel and laminated it to the hood side and the driver's door, and then gave each panel the rust-repair-in-progress look. He also drilled holes in the fiberglass at strategic points like the windshield and decklid corners to further enhance the pitted and rusty-hole look. He used DuPont Rustolium with red oxide and satin spruce green to give the body its current look.
Other exterior appointments include a pair of '37 Ford headlights and taillights, a swan-neck mirror, and front and rear bumpers from C.W. Moss. The rear bumper is dropped 6 inches (channeled and Z'd frame) from its stock height via a bracket.
The interior follows the barn find theme to a T. The Oze dash is outfitted with extended (deep) bezels that house the Auto Meter tach and speedo while the gauges are the Street Rod Antique Beige-series five-pack mounted in the dash beneath the speedometer. Other interior upgrades include the Vintage Air system and a Custom Autosound head unit coupled with Pioneer speakers to complete the owner-installed stereo system and C.W. Moss oval mirror. Pete Egan of Westminster Upholstery handled the stitchwork, covering the owner-built seating in a vinyl off-white/vanilla color in wide pleats while the carpeting is Mercedes wool in dark gray.
Another head turner (and source of a good chuckle) is the engine compartment. At first glance into the cavernous depths it appears a Flathead complete with Ardun heads rests beneath. After the obligatory gasp, one begins to see all isn't what it appears to be, as the real powerplant is a LS1 complete with Street & Performance headers and a K&N air filter. What causes one to chuckle is the Ardun valve covers adapted to the stock LS1 heads. Following the present-day V-8 is a 4L60E tranny with a Lokar shifter and an Inland Empire Driveline driveshaft. Both the engine and trans are virtually stock.
Aside from all the hidden touches that make this modern street rod look amazingly like a barn find, there can be no denying that it is a head turner and exemplifies what rodding is all about-imagination and personal touch coupled with one's own handiwork.
How long did this project take? Todd built the car at longtime friends Tim and Glenda Nash's home on weekends over the course of five months. That is a surprisingly short period of time in the realm of car building, but then again, it is a rust bucket of a body, or so it would appear!
You gotta love the old-time speaker grille.
During the two-month wait before Todd could get the car from Oze Rod Shop he sat down and
The Wheel Smith steelies are wrapped with Dayton rubber from the Whitewall Candy Store.
OK, the events are bogus, but it looks real and who knows, if the car had been there, mayb
If it looks like a steel door in a state of repair, it is, well sort of. Todd took automot
|F A C T S & F I G U R E S |
|Todd Varble |
West Los Angles, California
1937 Ford three-window coupe
|Frame / Manufacturer ||Oze Rod Shop |
(St. Benoit, Quebec, Canada)
|Wheelbase ||112” |
|Modifications ||custom, 4x2 rectangular frame |
w/ tubular crossmembers from
|Rearend / Ratio ||Ford 9” / 2.70 gears |
|Rear suspension ||triangulated four-bar |
|Rear brakes ||disc ’80s T-bird |
|Rear shocks ||Pete & Jake’s (Peculiar, MO) |
|Rear air suspension ||Air Ride Technologies |
|Front suspension ||MII w/ tubular control arms |
|Front brakes ||MII disc brakes |
|Master cylinder ||Corvette dual reservoir |
Master Power Brakes
|Front shocks ||Pete & Jake’s |
|Front air suspension ||Air Ride Technologies |
|Steering box ||r&p |
|Front wheel make, size ||Wheel Smith (Santa Ana, |
|Rear wheel make, size ||Wheel Smith steel, 15x8 |
|Front tire make, size ||Dayton, 215/65R15 |
|Rear tire make, size ||Dayton, 255/65R15 |
|Gas tank ||17-gal, ’37 Ford polyethyl |
ene tank w/ internal electri
cal fuel pump, Tanks Inc.
|Make ||Chevy LS1 |
|Displacement ||5.7L (348ci) |
|Cooling fan ||SPAL (Ankeny, IA) |
|Radiator ||Performance Rod & Custom |
|Valve covers ||faux Ardun over stock LS1 |
|Manifold / Induction ||stock w/ owner-made |
|Headers ||Street & Performance (Mena, |
|Air filter ||K&N (Riverside, CA) |
|Make ||GM 4L60E |
|Shifter ||Lokar Performance (Knoxville, |
|Driveshaft ||Inland Empire Driveline |
|Body style / Material ||’37 Ford 3W coupe / fiberglass |
|Body manufacturer ||Oze |
|Body mods ||4” top chop, sectioned |
|Hood ||Oze fiberglass |
|Grille ||Oze |
|Bodywork ||by owner |
|Paint type / Color ||DuPont Rustoleum / red |
oxide & satin spruce green
|Paint ||by owner |
|Graphics ||by owner |
|Headlights / Taillights ||’37 Ford / ’37 Ford, C.W. |
Moss (Orange, CA)
|Outside mirror ||swan neck, C.W. Moss |
|Bumpers ||front, ’37 Ford C.W. Moss; |
rear ’37 Ford (dropped w/
bracket 6” from channel &
|Other body items ||metal laminated to hood & |
driver door to simulate rust
repair & give appearance of
|Dashboard ||Oze |
|Insert / Gauges ||added extended bezels / |
Auto Meter (Sycamore, IL)
|Stereo / Speakers ||Custom Auto Sound (Fuller |
ton, CA) / Pioneer installed
|Air conditioning ||Vintage Air (San Antonio, |
|Steering wheel ||LeCarra (Oneida, TN) |
|Steering column ||Flaming River (Berea, OH) |
|Interior mirror ||oval, C.W. Moss |
|Seats ||by owner |
|Upholsterer ||Pete Egan of Westminster |
Upholstery (Anaheim, CA)
|Material / Color ||vinyl / off-white, vanilla |
|Carpet ||dark gray Mercedes wool |