Whenever we go to a hot rod show, we come back with a story or two about some humorous remarks we overheard from spectators. Don't you? Whether it's somebody arguing with a car owner about how he built his car, or a self-taught expert impressing his girlfriend with imaginary historical facts, the things people say can be pretty entertaining.
The comment we heard recently at the Goodguys Spring Nationals in Scottsdale, Arizona-where Joe Sahli's 1934 Ford three-window coupe, the one you're looking at right now, was an award winner-wasn't arrogant or ignorant, but it did make us laugh. As Joe's coupe cruised through the show grounds, everyone's eyes on it, one guy a few feet away from us pointed with excitement as he shouted to his buddy, "There's one like the ZZ Top car!"
It's true that the ZZ Top Eliminator '33 Ford, like Joe's '34, is a full-fendered, three-window coupe with a small-block engine. The Eliminator appeared in the early '80s and is a reflection of the style of the early '80s. Joe's '34, which appeared in 2010, is a reflection of the style that began in the '50s and has endured to this day. Something tells us that when Joe's three-window is as old as the Eliminator is now, it will not look dated.
It's no surprise that Joe's interest in cars began in the '50s as well. He was just a kid back then-a kid whose dad was co-owner of a car dealership. Joe worked as a lot boy, detailing Mercedes, Edsels, and Studebakers, gaining a love for cars, and earning some hands-on experience.
He says he's always loved '34 Fords. He owned a cabriolet for a few years, but the car he always wanted was a three-window. And that's what he finally got in 2006 when he bought this one from a friend. The friend had found the car in Nebraska a year earlier, in complete condition except for an engine and drivetrain. Once the coupe got to Phoenix, Joe took it to Hot Rods by Dean on the north side of town, where the serious work began.
Framerails from American Stamping provide the skeleton for the chassis. This is one area where Joe and the crew at Hot Rods by Dean went way beyond traditional styling. In back, there's a fully polished stainless steel Heidts Superide independent rear suspension setup, including 10-1/2-inch Wilwood inboard disc brakes and dual adjustable Aldan coilovers on each side. The independent front suspension is also a Heidts package with Wilwood brakes and Aldan coilovers.
Things are equally impressive underhood, where the firewall has been painted cream to better show off the dressed-up Chevy 350 small-block. This is no "everybody-has-one" 350, but a 383 Extreme Performer from Smeding Performance in Rancho Cordova, California, built off of a blueprinted GM four-bolt block with a stroker crank, hypereutectic pistons, and other high-performance internals, in addition to Edelbrock RPM Performer aluminum heads topped with Mooneyes finned valve covers. With the right setup, these engines can produce make horsepower and torque numbers in the mid-400 range. The induction system on this one came from Larry Fulton at Automotion Rochester Carburetor Service in Great Falls, Montana, who specializes in tri-power Rochester 2GC carburetion. Hooker headers flow into a 2-1/2-inch polished exhaust built at Hot Rods by Dean and a pair of Borla stainless mufflers. The Vintage Air Front Runner serpentine belt system, Joe Hunt ignition, and retro-style beehive oil filter are other cool elements. Alger Stowers at A&S Transmissions in Glendale, Arizona, built the Turbo 700-R4 transmission. The 9-inch rearend in the Superide contains a 3.70:1 differential.