The foglights, police siren,...
The foglights, police siren, and push bar are a few of the custom accessories collected by Tyler or received from the previous owner that found their way onto the car.
There are people still under the misconception that events like Billetproof, which emphasize traditionally styled cars, are restricted to poorly engineered jalopies with sun-scorched patinas or hastily shot rattlecan suede-that junk is applauded and quality is scorned. If you still subscribe to that way of thinking, keep reading. You might change your mind.
Tyler Pullen builds traditionally styled rods. He's been into it since he was a kid, and he realized that he suffered from the same condition a lot of enthusiasts do: his wallet was unable to keep up with his passion. His solution was to avoid paying other people to build cars for him and to learn how to do it himself, which is exactly what he does at his own personal project shop, TP Customs Chop Shop, in San Bruno, California. In the last few years, he's finished a bunch of rods, customs, and bikes, all traditional and all well-done (see for yourself at www.tpcustoms.com). The only thing he doesn't do, believe it or not, is spend a lot of money on them.
This low and gold '35 Plymouth coupe is one of his latest projects, built on a budget and finished in six months.
When Tyler first spotted the car on craigslist, it was red and stock appearing, and the condition was acceptable if not impressive, but it caught his attention because it was different. The only turnoff was the price-just under $14,000. Six months went by. One night around midnight, Tyler was back on the computer, searching craigslist for cars. He typed in 1935, and up came the Plymouth, which had been posted three minutes earlier. This time the price was $4,900. The two-thirds price drop seemed weird, so Tyler sent an email. The seller, it turned out, had been working on the car for 10 years, collecting parts and making modifications, but the project had stalled.
Since the first posting, a neighbor had backed into the car, crunching the rear quarter-panel and fender on the driver side, and the owner just wanted it gone. Tyler bought it over the phone, and the next day, he and his father went and got it. He remembers that as soon as he saw the Plymouth, he told his father, "That's it-we're taking it home."
The plan was not to build a full-on stocker or a full-on custom. The final result is a crossover car, stock appearing, but modified with components that might have been offered on it plus a few things that would have come along later.
Tyler says he can roll into a classic show, air it up, and draw a crowd who loves the unchopped top, trim and hardware, and stock headlights. And he can cruise into a custom show, drop it down, and collect a crowd who loves the paint, slammed stance, and '50s interior. And he can drive into an Arlen Ness bike show, throw it into a tire-squealing donut and get the whole place on its feet. But we'll get to that.
The rarity that makes this car cool is the same thing that makes it a son-of-a-gun to build, especially on a budget. Amazingly, Tyler told us that the start-to-finish investment on this car is less than $10,000. The trick is in carefully "picking, pulling, and swapping parts," as he puts it, and in doing a lot of the work yourself.
The sheetmetal stayed uncut, and many of the trim pieces (which would have been tough to find cheap) came with the car. The skirts, fifth wheel, and front A-bar were also provided by the previous owner. Tyler searched and found the foglights and grille trim. He never did find an original taillight, but he bought the N.O.S. Electroline, still in the box, for only a couple hundred dollars. Faith Plating in San Jose, California, made all the chrome parts look like new.
Although the body didn't receive any custom modifications, it did go through a ton of work to make every panel look as good as it does, with prep work done by Danny Castro. And there's no evidence of the curbside collision with the previous owner's neighbor. Tyler is a professional auto painter on insurance jobs, but painting his own custom projects is a lot more fun. He finished the coupe with DuPont Inca Gold with Hot Hues Candy Yellow-a color he says would be equally in place on a rod, custom, or lowrider.
Tyler kept the coupe body on the factory 'rails, which were C-notched in the rear. The suspension was upgraded with a TCI Engineering Mustang II style frontend, with 2-inch lowered spindles and Firestone airbags to lower the altitude, along with Monroe gas shocks all around. The 10-bolt '65 Nova rearend hangs on an owner-built triangulated four-link.
The 350/350 engine and transmission combination didn't kick up the build budget since Tyler pulled them out of another project car. "It may burn a little oil now and then," he admits, "but that's OK." The '65 small-block Chevy has been kept stock internally. The Gennie-shifted automatic is equipped with a B&M torque converter. The drivetrain from Bayshore Truck ends at the Nova rearend with 3.08:1 gears.
Inside the car, Tyler kept the stock seats, dash, instruments, and radio, but updated the look to '50s styling, getting Torres Auto Upholstery in San Francisco to handle the vinyl tuck 'n' roll. More recent decades contributed the lap belts and the iPod system fed through a Kenwood amp and Pioneer speakers, installed by Dennis Krakenberg.
Tyler told us he built the car to drive, not to serve up like a museum piece. Even so, he doesn't mind sharing his handiwork, and, as we said already, the crossover Plymouth is equally well received by purists and rodders. He was on his way home from an event last April when he drove through San Mateo, where his brother, Jason, a professional Harley stunt rider, was entertaining the crowd at the Arlen Ness Bike Show. Seeing Tyler drive in, Jason called him over, car and all, to show the folks what his Plymouth was all about. After a few donuts and figure eights in front of his new fans, Tyler went into a big smoky burnout that would've made John Force proud, staying on it until the rear tires kablooied and the crowd went nuts. Arlen Ness himself walked out through the smoke and high-fived him.
The '35 Plymouth made a different, but just as strong, impression on us when we saw it at the recent Billetproof show in Northern California. We met Tyler a couple of minutes later and were shooting these photos as soon as the show ended. A beautiful street rod built to look good, built on the cheap, and built to use. What's missing? Except for some tire smoke, nothing we can think of.
The two-barrel '65 Chevy 350...
The two-barrel '65 Chevy 350 came out of another one of Tyler's cars. It's completely stock internally, but shot with a coat of gold for looks and dressed with finned aluminum valve covers and air cleaner. Rich Spinali provided the exhaust system and Donna and Jeremy Smith from Sanderson got Tyler the shorty headers. Mufflers are Smithy's Glass Packs.
It doesn't get much cleaner...
It doesn't get much cleaner than black and white tuck 'n' roll vinyl, with the stock column and '40 Ford steering wheel painted to match. A lot of the interior is stock stuff, but in keeping with Tyler's heavy-accessory theme, it includes such extras as a compass, hat holder, Trico column fan, column-mounted flashlight, and interior heater.
A little bit of Inca Gold...
A little bit of Inca Gold paint was saved for the 15-inch Wheel Vintiques steelies, visible behind the '57 Lincoln Premier caps. The tires are 5.60-15 bias-ply Firestones, with 6.00-15s in the rear.
The black piping on the white...
The black piping on the white headliner contrasts with the white piping on the black carpet. The wire hat holder is a cool accessory.