Whatever the real reasoning, whether it's a true fascination or just a symbol of stature, celebrities-namely musicians-and collector cars seem to go hand in hand. In the hot rod world, names like Jeff Beck, Jimmy Vaughn, and Billy F. Gibbons ought to be fairly familiar. However, to the average middle-aged rodder, the name Kirk Hammett may only provoke a look of confusion.
Hammett, the lead guitarist for Metallica since 1983, is by all accounts a musician first and foremost. If you were to search the Internet for info on the California native, you'd find pretty much all there is to know about his musical influences, tastes, and accomplishments-but nary a thing about his automotive affections. Does that mean Kirk's nothing but a very talented guitar player who happens to spend some of his extra earnings on cars with which to fill a large garage? That's really hard to say without asking the man himself, but if you were to ask us, we'd say only a car guy would have the forethought to search out such an equally talented artisan like Cole Foster to build him one of the most amazing '36 Ford coupes ever (re)built.
Actually, the story of how Kirk and Cole first met is pretty interesting. Ironically, Cole was backstage at a ZZ Top concert as Billy Gibbons' guest. After the show, in a room filled with rock star luminaries, Billy stood up and introduced Cole in front of everyone, of course in a brazen manner. Cole, being the humble gentleman he is, just grinned and nodded, of course with a much redder complexion than minutes earlier. However, Kirk, seemingly just as quiet and reserved, approached Cole to discuss a GTO that he and his wife Lani were thinking of buying. It wasn't so much the car itself, rather, the fact that it was red-of course, they wanted it black. From there, it was up to Cole to water the seeds that had ever so boldly been planted by The Right Rev. Gibbons.
Rather than sending the Hammetts off with their freshly painted goat (albeit an A-job finish) and a handshake, Cole nurtured the relationship, especially since he noticed full well how Kirk took an immediate liking to his chopped '54 Chevy hardtop. In the back of his mind, Cole knew he'd soon be building him a custom from the ground up, but like the old saying goes, you can't lead a horse to water if he doesn't even know what kind of car he wants to start with! To help matters, Cole bought Kirk a subscription to The Rodder's Journal, which did the trick. Ultimately, the decision was narrowed down to the one car that many believe is the first to ever really become a "kustom"-the '36 Ford three-window coupe. Which was a good thing, because that's what Cole wanted to build in the first place since he pretty much already had it built-in his head.
In a roundabout sort of way, it took some time before Cole even had a solid basis to start with. Among other things, the first subject barely made it through sandblasting with all its digits intact, and a "supposed" three-window that this very editor located in SoCal turned out to be a five-window ... but it was so nice, it couldn't be passed up. As it turned out, that ultimately turned out to be the one, but of course, it had to morph into a fewer-windowed model. For Cole, something of that nature isn't really a setback; although, considering the transformation work that was soon to follow, it was nothing.
For the record, although he worked in a smaller shop, Cole's not a one-man band. For the Hammett project, he not only enlisted the help of good friend (and fellow Salinas Boys original) Job Stevens, but his father, veteran Funny Car driver and master fabricator Pat Foster, as well. Furthermore, Aaron Elliot and current employees Thomas Torjsen and Jordan Skow also contributed toward the effort. (Aaron has since moved on to do custom suspensions, while Thomas' vast metalworking skills still cease to amaze Cole).
Basically, it all started with a Total Cost Involved IFS/four-link chassis. Difference between this one and most: It was ordered "tack welded" only. This was done knowing things would have to be adjusted in order to get the scrub line to be above and out of sight, and doing so required that the rear be kicked up 3 more inches. Everything from the back end forward got moved up. As expected, the chassis modifications would dictate that the car be channeled, and Cole ended up raising the floor in a wedge fashion (zero inches at the front to 3 at the trunk). Even with the adjusted stance, further ride altering was achieved not only by means of ShockWaves at each corner, but through an AccuAir Control Systems electronic ride-height manager. Keeping the undercarriage true blue, a fuel-injected 302 from Ford Racing & Performance was used in conjunction with an AOD trans from JET Performance to complement the Currie 9-inch supplied with the chassis.