There's a ton of folks out there in hot rod land that'd love nothin' better than to build a hot rod with their own two hands. Unfortunately, many of us are just not in a position to devote the hundreds and sometimes thousands of hours required by such a daunting task, and Don Smith is a case in point. As much as Don would have loved to devote a huge chunk of time turnin' wrenches, the real-world responsibilities of running a successful business (one of the Southwest's largest Harley-Davidson dealerships) just plain made it impossible. But, since the lack of huge blocks of free time were the only major hurdles in his quest to build the ultimate hot rod coupe, he did the next best thing to building it himself-he enlisted the talents of a small band of the best darn hot rod builders he could find.

The project started as most do-with a personal vision of the perfect hot rod. In Don's eyes it had to be a Deuce three-window, an original Henry Ford steel one, at that. It'd also be powered by the ultimate traditional hot rod mill: a side-valve V-8 backed by a manual tranny. With these prerequisites in mind, Don began the adventure with a search for a sound starting point: a solid original coupe body. Don Figured the best bet would to begin by perusing the pages of Hemmings Motor News, and his idea was a good one as he found just what he was looking for-an unfinished project consisting of a whole and original three-window complete with a pair of extra doors and trunk lid.

With the search for the main component a success, Don then dialed up master hot rod builder Roy Pickford, who in the past had built a cool traditional hot rod or two for Don, and made arrangements for Roy to handle this build as well. With the groundwork laid, Don had the coupe and it extra parts shipped over to Beach City, Texas, and Roy's body shop. Along with the sheetmetal, Don picked up a So-Cal Speed Shop Deuce frame as a foundation for the build too.

Pickford began by massaging the Deuce frame a bit. It was stretched 2-inches and C'd in the rear to enhance the cars stance. A 4-inch-dropped and drilled I-beam hung by a Posies spring and held in place by a pair of hairpins was used up front, while a Winters quick-change (again hung by a Posies spring) and a pair of So-Cal ladder bars were utilized out back. A quartet of P&J shocks and drum brakes (Buicks up front and Lincolns in the rear) round out the rolling chassis.

Don's previous experiences working with Pickford gave him the utmost confidence that this baby would be a sweetheart, and to do it justice it'd need a hot rod mill that'd be the equal of Roy Pickford's craftsmanship. With the bar set so high, it was imperative he make the right choice. Well, Don had spied perhaps the coolest traditional engine ever during a trip to Boyd's shop in SoCal, but it was destined for an in-the-works project of fellow hot rod Texan Scotty Gray. The engine in question was a 296ci Don Ferguson/Ardun Enterprises creation that not only looked like a million bucks, but dyno'd at a truly respectable 364 hp.

Well, to make a long story short, Don and Scotty came to an agreement and the Ardun was headed to Beach City, Texas and the in process coupe project.

With the majority of the components on hand Roy plugged away on the project. The original sheet metal was meticulously massaged by into pristine shape and the doors and decklid re-skinned. As the car progressed, Don's wife Carolyn painstakingly poured over hundreds of color chips and upholstery samples as the color combo would be an extremely important facet of a successful build. Carolyn ultimately settled on a sweet combination of Sunset Copper for the exterior and Lite Root beer leather for the upholstery.

As is distinctly evident in this exemplary photography, Don and Carolyn's coupe surpassed even their own lofty expectations. The combination of the Smith's vision, an array of the finest components the aftermarket offers, the expertise of Roy Pickford, and the mechanical and engineering prowess of Don Ferguson has indeed culminated in what is perhaps one of the nicest three-windows we've seen in a long time.