Some folks just know how to build a hot rod. It seems no matter what type they decide to work on, it always looks good. That's Chris Staneck's profile in a nutshell. The 58-year-old from Waynesville, Ohio, has been building some sort of hot rod for most of his adult life (from a '55 Buick when he was 14 to a nose-high '55 Chevy when he was 18 in the early '70s, to an exemplary red Deuce highboy roadster featured in the Aug. '99 issue of STREET RODDER).
But building something simple almost always isn't, which is where a lot of people who think they know how to build a hot rod fail. They tend to overbuild and overcompensate, adding more than what is necessary to get the job done. The proverbial proof in the pudding is Chris' latest ride: a '26 Ford modified.
Truth be told, Chris didn't want to build another Deuce highboy roadster, so he went a whole new direction. And the timing of building this car could not have been better for Chris. Employed as an engineer at GM, he knew his career was winding down, so he was able to retire before he was forced out. The guy in the next office over, Ed Gromer, was retiring, too, and was also interested in building a modified [see page 34 for Gromer's modified], so the pair helped each other out.
Chris began with a homemade chassis, building it up using 1-1/2x3-inch steel tubing on a wheelbase of 99 inches. To get the car down low, a 12-inch kick was incorporated into the chassis design. The front suspension works around a '48 Ford drilled I-beam axle with a buggy spring hung from owner-built hairpins while the rear uses a Model T spring, Armstrong lever shocks, and another set of homemade hairpins. The rearend is a '40 Ford banjo (3.54:1) capped with '69 Ford Torino drum brakes. Up front Chris drilled and vented the '40 Ford backing plates and added Thompson Speed Shop Lincoln drum brakes.
For steering, he modified a '72 BMW unit and converted it to cowl steering, which controls the 15x4 '35 Kelsey Hayes wheels wrapped in ribbed 15x5.50 Coker rubber. (Larry Henderson was able to remove the stock Ford hoops and added ones from a VW for Chris' car). Out back 16x4 Kelsey's are shod in 16x8.90 Coker grooved tires.
The drivetrain for the modified is as unique as the rest of the car: an '85 Ford Ranger 2.0L four-banger (mated to a five-speed trans) that Chris bought for $20 because a friend was taking the truck to the crusher. Dayton Crankshaft in Dayton, Ohio, did the machine work to accommodate the 0.040 larger pistons, which put the total displacement at 125 inches. Chris assembled the engine using a COMP Cams camshaft (PN 280 grind) and the stock crossflow induction design was kept intact, but Chris modified the intake to accept a twin-barrel Weber carb rather than the unit it came with from the factory. Head work from Kammer & Kammer in Dayton helps the four breathe, and an MSD box and wires feed the 2.0L its spark. Chris also made his own headers, which have five exit tubes leading into a Lakes-style side pipe. (The fifth tube isn't an exhaust outlet-it actually collects exhaust from the exhaust ports and feeds it back through a tube into the engine compartment, under the car, and through a muffler before exiting out the back.)
The Hot Rod Company built a special Speedster-style 13-gallon gas tank for Chris, and a custom aluminum radiator was made by Spyke Radiators in Brownsburg, Indiana, from a cardboard model Chris fabbed up. Once he'd removed any extra brackets and generally cleaned the look of the engine up, Chris highlighted everything with an Omaha Orange paint color.