Dan Olsen has a modest way of describing his striking '37 Ford sedan. "It's just a basic street rod with fancy paint," he says.
Yeah, right-and Miss December is just a regular girl with pretty eyes!
OK, technically Dan is correct. In many ways the car is a textbook street rod. It's got a Heidts Mustang II front suspension, Posies' rear springs, an 8.8-inch Ford rear end, and a relatively conventional 302ci Ford small-block mill. The body is essentially stock and the cabin is fitted with common upgrades like an air conditioner and a stereo.
So what makes this sedan such a standout? It's more than just the paint.
Dan's motivation for building the fat Ford may hold some clue to its distinctive character. He started it after building a '32 three-window coupe. A quintessential street rod, the Deuce was plenty of fun, but it wasn't everything Dan had hoped. The interior was cramped, and the ride was bouncy. The 'glass-bodied car also seemed to lack the style and character Dan wanted. "I realized it just wasn't an old car," Dan says flatly.
The desire for something a little more comfortable and unusual coincided with a friend's purchase of a '37 Ford sedan. "That '37 started to catch my eye," Dan says. "I realized it had all the features I wanted-a functional trunk, filled top, roomy cabin, pancake-style hood, and plenty of curves."
After more than a year of searching, Dan found a slant-back '37 just a couple of hours from his Omaha-area home. A straight and solid survivor, he figured he'd build a quick "patina rod" and go cruising. "I was just going to throw a drivetrain in it and that was all," Dan says. "I didn't think I could afford to build a complete car." But after swapping in the engine and chassis components, Dan felt the car deserved more. "It just didn't make any sense to me to put it back together dirty and rusty," he says.
There's no doubt the sedan's slinky stance-and its rolling stock-is a key ingredient to its successful style. "The car was built around the wheel and tire combination," Dan says. "I always wanted to throw chrome reverse wheels and wide whites on that '32 coupe." Paired with the proper suspension components, the 15x6- and 15x8-inch rims tuck perfectly into the Ford's fat fenders.
Which brings us to that "fancy paint." A second-generation rodder, Dan grew up going to Kustom Kemps of America events with his father, Harry-a diehard custom guy. That kustom (with a "K") influence came through as he readied the sedan's body for its final finish. "I started looking through some of the older books-the little pages -and noticed that a lot of the cars were gold," Dan says. "Some of the first metallics I saw were gold." So he found a modern paint color-Acura Sundance Gold-that mimicked those early metallics and had Dave Huxhold lay it down.
Ed Vocelka, an old family friend and '50s pinstriper, was originally slated to flame and stripe the car, but fell ill before it was ready. "I had watched him my whole life," Dan says, "so I decided to try it myself. I just started messing around with tape until I got the flames the way I liked them. I asked Ed what color the flames should be, and he said 'green' without even batting an eye."
Dan had a paint store custom mix green until they achieved the hue he wanted. "I actually screwed up," Dan admits. "They were supposed to be ghost flames, but being a novice I kept laying on the coats until they were more green." All screwups should look this good. When accented with purple fades and cream pinstriping, the green-on-gold combination imparts an authentic vintage custom feel on the Ford.