Sometimes when you build a hot rod it seems nothing goes right and the build goes on forever. But, when you're lucky, certain projects flow together correctly, you enjoy working with the folks who helped you along the way, and the end result is something you can not only be proud of but can enjoy in every sense of the word.
Doug and Jan Gigstead, from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, have owned many hot rods over for the past three decades, so building and maintaining them was nothing new. And the fact that Doug has worked as a body technician at a local GM dealership for 32 years helps too.
But a friend from high school, Arvid Anderson, is the one Doug credits with giving him the "street rod bug" many years ago. The pair used to drive to high school in Arvid's '38 Chevy, a car that Arvid still owns today, 45 years later! Having owned a handful of Deuces in the past few years was OK, but the need for a larger, more comfy ride than what a Deuce roadster might offer is what drove Doug to start looking for a new rod to build.
A 350 Corvette motor was bored...
A 350 Corvette motor was bored .010 over to 355 cubes and topped with an Edelbrock 650 carb, an aluminum Edelbrock Performer manifold, and a '48 Cadillac air cleaner.
The car he found, a '40 Ford Deluxe coupe, has had a long history of being a street rod. Originally from South Dakota and then brought to Wisconsin, the '40 was first rodded years ago by Gary Pagel. Basically a rust-free car, it was sold to another local rodder and then bought by Randy Hallman Specialty Cars in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Randy rebuilt the coupe and repainted it a frost beige color. The car was then sold to Ed Krueger from Janesville, Wisconsin. Ed had Steve Ralf's Interiors in Iowa change the interior and he also had some custom graphics added to the exterior.
After selling their '32 Ford roadster, Doug and Jan had seen that Ed had the '40 for sale at a local car show. They felt it filled their needs perfectly and the next thing they knew, it was in their driveway, and that was 12 years ago!
In a testament to how well Randy had built the car, it went virtually unchanged for 10 years before Doug decided it was time for a go-through. But the main decision by Doug for changing up the car was more about driving something that expressed his own personality rather than that of its previous owner. So, roughly three years ago, Doug, Jan, his son, John, and his brother, Dean (who runs Hard Time Hot Rods in Sturgeon Bay), all got together to create a new rod.
Doug did the required bodywork...
Doug did the required bodywork on the coupe and then followed it up by spraying the PPG paint himself.
Doug and Dean started from the ground up with the chassis, converting the old straight-axle over to an independent unit from Total Cost Involved Engineering. The rear utilized the stock parallel leaf system, but was freshened up with a new set of springs from POSIES. Wheels were changed from '80s-style billet five-spokes to chrome reverse wheels wrapped in wide whites.
The engine, a 350 V-8 from a Corvette, had been gone through just before Doug had bought the car, so he didn't feel that it warranted a complete blow-apart on this build, but he did add roller rockers to the new aluminum heads. A '48 Cadillac air cleaner was used too, and sits atop a single Edelbrock 650 carb bolted to an Edelbrock Performer manifold. The whole shebang is mated to a 700-R4 trans, which was prepped by the folks at Art Carr Performance Products.
The body was in good shape, but the dash had the familiar smooth look of an '80s street rod. Doug decided to go a bit retro and fit all of the stock trim pieces back on the dash, right down to the chrome speaker grille and glovebox trim.
A pair of buckets from a fullsize...
A pair of buckets from a fullsize Ford from the '70s was the base from which to work when it came to the interior of Doug's coupe. The white tuck 'n' roll, headliner, and door panels made by Red's Upholstery are a stark contrast to the gold '40 dash, steering column, and steering wheel.
Wanting a color for the car that was from the yellow family, Doug knew he had the right color for the project when he spied a particular gold (something Jan calls '40 Carat Gold) that really does look like it was squeezed from a gold bar. Doug did the bodywork and prep for the PPG paint, then sprayed the car with the brilliant hue. And, just as with the interior, most of the brightwork was returned to the exterior, with many of the trim pieces coming from Bob Drake Reproductions.
As talented as the brothers are in building hot rods (it's been said that Dean makes them run and Doug makes them pretty), they just have never taken the time to learn how to do upholstery, so they turned to Red's Upholstery. After giving Red's a pair of bucket seats from a fullsize '70s Ford, Red's stitched up a white tuck 'n' roll pattern for the seats, door panels, and headliner that nicely contrasts the gold color found on the dash.
The gold theme carried through to the LeCarra steering wheel (which Doug painted) and onto the tilt column. Five Classic Instrument gauges, set into a polished aluminum panel, tell Doug what is happening in and around his coupe, and a Vintage Air climate-control system keeps him cool in summer and warm on those cold Wisconsin nights. Doug's son, John, did the stereo installation for his dad using a Pioneer head unit and speakers.
The white tuck 'n' roll, headliner,...
The white tuck 'n' roll, headliner, and door panels made by Red's Upholstery are a stark contrast to the gold '40 dash, steering column, and steering wheel. Classic Instruments gauges are arranged in an owner-made insert, and the underdash conceals the Vintage Air climate control system.
After a two-and-a-half year build, the finished coupe found its way to the Goodguys Indy show in 2007, where it picked up one of STREET RODDER's Top 100 awards. The 800-mile roundtrip from Sturgeon Bay to Indy was just a short ride-the Gigsteads regularly went on 1,000-milers when the car was in its frost beige motif, and we shouldn't expect things to change since the redo. One change that has happened since these photographs were taken was the addition of pinstriping. A classic hot rod 'stripe was laid down by Wisconsin's Brush Boy and covers the decklid, air cleaner, and the spots on the fenders above each headlight.
But getting off the fairgrounds may be difficult for the Gigsteads nowadays, mostly because there always seems to be someone hanging out around the car checking it out. So if you wonder what the Gigsteads would change if they had to redo the car yet again, the answer would be "nothing," and we'd have to agree!