Most of us who build and enjoy hot rods do so because we're lifelong gearheads. We cut our teeth on car magazines and drooled over hot jalopies and show cars as kids; as we grew older, most of us graduated to building and owning, and our motivation became the pure love of the automobile. In the case of Lori Fujii's way-cool '37 Chevy coupe, love was yet again the motivator-not for the vehicle itself, but the love of a daughter for her dad.

Lori's story began years ago while her father, Tad Fujii, a consummate hot rodder, spent his time wrenching on and driving a '40 Ford. Though he enjoyed the Ford, he'd had his eye on a stock '37 Chevy Business coupe belonging to an old family friend. The Chevy had been stored in a barn over in Compton, California, since 1953, and Tad had tried for years to get the owner to sell it though to no avail.

Years later, just before Tad's 60th birthday, Lori decided she'd try to buy the old coupe herself as a surprise birthday present for Dad. Hoping for the best, but steeled for the worst, Lori contacted the owner, who, much to her delight, not only agreed to give up the Chevy, but after hearing the reason she wanted it so badly, actually gave it to her for free. Needless to say, her dad was both surprised and thrilled with his gift.

After 41 years in storage, Tad and his daughter towed the coupe home, and, Lori noted, it was one of the happiest days of her father's life. With his birthday present ensconced in the safety of the family garage, Tad set about planning his long-awaited build. He intended on taking his time and working slowly-a little bit here, a little bit there-as this was to be his retirement project.

Tragically, just 11 months after his birthday, Lori's dad was killed in a car accident. As one would imagine, the family was devastated; they barely knew what to do about anything, let alone the fate of the Chevy. All Lori knew was it was really important and special to her father, so she could never part with it. The unfinished coupe went back into storage.

Ten years passed before Lori made the decision to finally finish the project her father started. She knew her dad would have built it to drive and enjoy, so she planned on doing the same. Her goal was to build a totally reliable daily driver that kept the Chevy looking exactly as it had, both inside and out, when her father began his rodstoration. So, with much help and guidance from friend and co-worker Bruce Gray, the pair meticulously planned every step of the build using the skills of a group of professional-including, but not limited to, Garrett Wilson of Burbank-based Hollywood Hot Rods, Mark Lopez of Upland, and Butch Lynch and Dennis Ricklefs of Uncle Bitchin's in Temecula-to bring their plan to fruition.

As you can see, and as you might imagine, Lori's coupe ended up just as she had wished-a patina'd, stock-looking car with all the comforts, performance, and reliability anyone could wish for. Plus, a multitude of cool custom tweaks were added that she'll enjoy while driving her new hot rod daily-just as her father would have done.