Frequent readers of STREET RODDER will no doubt recognize Steve Legens' name. The owner of Legens Hot Rod Shop in Martin, Tennessee (started in 1991), Steve has had his cars-both customer's as well as personal-featured on the cover of STREET RODDER four times (a '48 Chevy truck in May 1999, a '36 three-window in April 2002, a highly customized '41 Willys truck in October 2006, and a '36 Ford coupe in November 2007) as well as having many other stories and articles published about the shop's ability to build a fine hot rod.

But if you look at the entire award-winning body of work the shop has produced, you might recognize a theme (besides all the trophies and accolades): A reoccurrence of the number 36-as in '36 Ford.

Though a Model A coupe was his first hot rod, a '36 Ford roadster has always been Steve's dream to own, but he has always found it difficult to hang onto any of his cars, as customers always seemed to want to buy them!

Back in 2005, while manning his booth at the NSRA's Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, one of his employees happened to mention to him there was someone who had a '36 Ford roadster for sale and was trying to get into the swap meet.

Now in a dead run from the building to the swap meet area, Steve found the owner of the car in the vendor parking area because he wasn't able to get the car into the swap meet. Steve checked the car out (it was in bare metal) and made an offer, but it wasn't accepted.

The next year Steve was driving back from Georgia after picking up a '38 Ford Standard and thought he'd call the owner of the '36 to see if he still had it. He did, so Steve drove over to check it out one more time. All of the sheetmetal was on the car, and it had wide whites mounted to black steel rims, but no motor. This time, though, he didn't leave without sealing a deal and two days later the car was at his shop.

Having built some high-end cars in his time, Steve's thought for this car went the other way. All he wanted to do was get a coat of primer on it, get a motor in it, then drive the wheels off of it. He found a Hemi motor and a five-speed for it, but the guys in the shop were sensing he wasn't going to keep it primered for long, and they believed the car would be getting coats of gloss sooner rather than later. So once the bodywork was done, Steve found what he thought was a pretty unusual color and he was off and running. Soon after he got hooked up with a set of Schott wheels, which he knew would look great under those round '36 fenders.

Unbeknownst to Steve, he was now on the side of a slippery slope of building more than just a driver and, as it started to be assembled, it kept getting nicer. But the guys in the shop doubted Steve when he said he was going to drive his roadster.

As it turned out the hot rod was getting finished near the time of the '08 Goodguys Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, and Steve thought it would be a good place to debut the car and enter it in their Street Rod of the Year contest. What he didn't know is that Goodguys had recently changed their guidelines on when a car needs to be on site (Friday at 10 a.m.) so at midnight on Thursday the Legens team was still working on the car and by 2 a.m. they had finished sewing the top and got the car in the trailer.

They entered the show (with a broken rear brake fitting, so only the front brakes worked) and the car was chosen along with four others as a finalist for Street Rod of the Year. Steve was honored to be picked, and though it didn't win the top prize, the car went on to win a Top 25 at the Shades of the Past event as well as being picked as a representative car at the SRMA booth at the SEMA Show later that year.

With some of the car shows out of the way, Steve was ready to really get in the car and do some driving. Mid last year he took the car on its maiden voyage as he drove three of his friends over the Ozark Mountains, putting roughly 2,000 miles on the odometer. That mileage total was soon improved upon with a trip to Texas for a Vintage Air kickoff party and then on to the L.A. Roadster Show in Southern California. The trip was made that much better as Steve's oldest son was able to go with him and ride shotgun (a present from him for Father's Day). They drove for 10 days with the top down all the way, even going through a few rainstorms. The 49-year-old says it was the most fun he'd had with a car since he'd finished his first hot rod way back in the late '80s, and he got to combine the best of both worlds as his '36 is both a driver and a winner.