The word "Sinuous" implies a curvy shape, and Harold and Rhea Schrader's '35 Ford coupe is
Some folks come into the hot rodding hobby late, finding out about old cars either through friends, family, or sometimes even by accident. Then there are those people where it is no accident. And it might actually be easier to talk about the time in their life when they weren't involved somehow in the hobby because that conversation wouldn't take any time at all.
But a great many people who own, build, or dream of owning or building a hot rod got that fever from their father. In Harold Schrader's case, he got it from his grandfathers (on both sides), his father, brothers, uncles, and cousins, all of whom were once or still are mechanics. Harold's love of things mechanical may have started with him rebuilding engines when he was 13, but it was honed by the time he started drag racing when he was 16.
But as it happens, life sometimes gets in the way of a really good hobby and, by his thirties, Harold had stepped away from cars to concentrate on making a living. But the flame was never completely extinguished and, luckily for him, it was again fanned when he met his soon-to-be wife, Rhea, in 1971. Now living in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, the pair not only found a collaborator in each other's life but with the hot rod hobby as well, as she also enjoys going to the drags, riding motorcycles, and working on the cars.
Another such collaboration arose when the couple was told by a friend who buys, restores, and sells antique cars about an estate sale where two '40 Ford trucks, one '40 Ford sedan, and one '35 Ford three-window would be going up for sale. Upon closer inspection, Harold found the '35 to be very solid with very little rust in the bottom of the doors, so he bought it. Now just its third owner, Harold sat on the car for a year before deciding it needed to get the hot rod treatment.
It's a shame the engine cover does its job, but there's a fully polished LS2 from Street &
Not only is everything round on this car, many of the sultry shapes are copied throughout
After seeing an article about car designers, the Schraders picked Jason Rushforth in Tacoma, Washington, to do some designs for them. The designs were varied, but Harold and Rhea eventually chose the more radical version and set their mind to building a high-end rod. Rushforth contacted Dave Tucci, of Tucci Hot Rods in Marcy, New York, to see if he'd be interested in talking with the Schraders about building their car, as Tucci had some experience with creating cars that were a little more extreme than your basic hot rod. That, coupled with the fact the shop wasn't too far from where the Schraders lived, got him the job.
Tucci's got the '35 from Harold, disassembled it, and found the only things they were going to reuse on the car were the body and the doors. But shortly after starting the project, Harold and Rhea attended the Detroit Autorama, and decided to compete for the Don Ridler Memorial Award with their coupe-a decision not to be taken lightly because the competition at that level (some say possibly the highest in the country for hot rods) would involve a whole new level of commitment of time and money.
Once the decision was made that the team was aiming at the Ridler, a whole new plan of attack had to be formulated. Cars that compete for the Ridler have to be innovative in order to have any chance at all, so every nut and bolt, every piece of suspension, and every piece of metal had to be looked at as if it would be the one part that would help win (or lose) the award.
Jamie McFarland Custom Upholstery (Puyallup, WA) covered the Wise Guys seat frames with Ca
The steering wheel is '38 Pontiac banjo, with the outer ring removed and two-piece machine
Tucci started with the chassis, using a tubular chassis built by Mike Adams, and then built everything off that platform. Stance is a big part of any car to come out of Tucci's, so they then came up with the wheel and tire size that would fit the overall design. Next was the grille, which needed to be laid back and curved, but by doing so the hood became too short, proportionately, for the rest of the car, so the grille was moved forward 3 inches and the wheelbase extended (now 118 inches from the original 112). The floor, made with 1/8-inch plate, allowed for body mounts that would be bolted from the inside of the car (into the tubular chassis) that effectively eliminated any exposed body mount hardware underneath the car. The drivetrain that was chosen-a '99 Corvette C5-also helped as they could make a smaller tunnel, giving them more room for the interior.
Tucci's then channeled the body 3 inches and fabricated a rocker panel in the door opening. Originally, the '35 Ford had no body line on the underside of the door, but Tucci's created a rocker panel that extended from the bottom of the door to the running boards, which helped with getting the correct stance for the wheels. To accomplish this, Tucci's also extended the front edge of the rear fenders approximately 3 inches.
After getting the lower portion of the doorjamb complete and the body mounted to the floor, Tucci's wedge cut (3 inches at front axle centerline to 0 inches at rear axle center line) the body, which gave them the desired rake. They put a straight 2-inch chop in the roof, but retained the original size of the rear window (and the movable window is still in place, too). For the custom windshield, they created a rough template of the shape they wanted and took it to a salvage yard and put it up against any windshield that fit the curve the best, and found that a Ford Ranger had the best shape. They then made another template from the Ranger windshield and transferred it to the coupe to see if it would work. Once satisfied that it would, the Ranger windshield was cut to size. A metal template was fabbed from the new windshield and put in the desired place with bracing so Tucci could determine its exact location. Once figured out, the A-posts and cowl could be built around the windshield's new location.
Here's what the Schraders bought at the estate sale: a pretty nice '35 Ford, which they we
Mike Adams built a tube frame chassis for the coupe, and Tucci's modified it further for t
As with most any hopeful Ridler contender, nearly every other piece on the car was handmade or modified. Door structures were made, hidden hinges from Rocky's were added so they operate suicide, and new skins shaped. New running boards were made, and the rear fenders were also made to attain a more sweeping look to the backside of the car. The rear section of the body below the trunk opening was reshaped to match the new rear section of the fenders. The original rumble seat opening was removed and a bigger opening was created in order to have a full-size trunk. A new trunk skin was hammered out at Fay Butler's and then welded to the inside trunk structure. Tucci's then removed the louvered section from the hood sides, cut them down on their leading edge to follow the hump of the front fenders, added them to new hood sides that now extend rearward, ending at the leading edge of the doors.
The new grille surround was hand-fabricated to sweep rearward and, after it was complete, a stainless tube structure was made for the grille bars. Tucci started with 1/4-inch stainless tubing, flattened each length in a press brake, and fabricated a tool that would bend the lower section of the grille bars identical to each other even though each bar needed to have a different curve from the bottom of the grille shell to the top. Once complete, Sherm's Plating took care of chrome work on the grille shell and other components.
You can see how the front edges of the doors were extended to create a rounder shape, plus
Inside the doors are a set of Specialty Power Windows that will move the 1/8-inch gray tem
After fabricating a surround, Tucci flattened each 1/4-inch stainless tube to make the bar
For the taillights, they used Greening Auto Company buckets but, instead of mounting the taillights on top of a stanchion, they hung the bucket under the stanchions. The headlight stanchions were re-engineered by Arcuri Design so they could be CNC-machined from 6061-T6 aluminum by Warner Machine. The original headlight buckets were also cut down and screw-on rings were machined, incorporating '36 Pontiac 'glass lenses (that have a ribbed design that matches the spacing and look of the grille bars).
The powertrain Tucci used is a fully polished LS2 from Street & Performance with a Professional Products intake manifold and a fully polished 4L60 automatic transmission. The LS2 uses individual coil packs for the spark plugs, and Tucci decided to hide the coil packs by using an original valve cover on the motor and then taking a second set of valve covers, a tall cast aluminum pair from Street & Performance, and machined the inside to house the coil packs. Holes were then drilled to have the spark plug wires connect directly to the coil packs.
Greening Auto Company made the buckets for the taillights, but their mounts (so they hang
What do you do if you don't want to see the brake rotors behind your wheels? You cut them
For the wheels, Brent Gill (Brent Gill Design) supplied a concept drawing, which was then given to Arcuri Design to create a 3D rendering. While designing the wheels, they found that using a solid rotor would take away from the look of the wheel, so they machined portions of the Wilwood rotor to be hidden by the wheel spokes, while still keeping enough of the stopping power of the six-piston Wilwood calipers up front and the four-piston calipers in the rear. But before Greening Auto Company could get started on machining the wheels, Tucci found forged motorcycle wheels to obtain the same soft lip on both the outer part of the wheel and the inner part of the wheel, which means the centers would have to be bolted to the outer hoops, which would create a clean sharp line between the center of the wheel and the hoop. The 17x7 wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich 215/40/ZR17s while the 20x10 wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich 295/40/ZR20s. Advanced Plating then gave the wheels their show-quality chrome coating.
The gauge bezel was milled a single piece from a solid block of aluminum.
Instead of doing a tubular control arm suspension, a billet aluminum control arm suspension was designed by Arcuri Design and machined by Profile Racing in St. Petersburg, Florida, incorporating a suspension from RideTech. A custom rack-and-pinion was supplied by Unisteer Performance, though they used joints, shafts, and a steering column from Flaming River.
Once all of the car's custom parts had been fabricated and test-fit, the body and chassis were sent to Rich Thayer from RJ Customs where he transformed the bare metal car into a flawless Ridler-worthy car using modified Lexus Candy Brown (Tiger's Eye) paint. After bodywork and paint were completed, the entire car (including the underside) was hand rubbed and polished. Next on the list was the interior, which was turned over to Jamie McFarland of McFarland Custom Upholstery in Puyallup, Washington, who used a Carmel leather throughout, including covering the Wise Guys seat frames and the top of the dash.
The gauge faces are made of milled Plexiglas, to which vinyl lettering was applied to the
Tucci had designed and machined a set of custom gauge faces from 1-1/2-inch Plexiglas, to which vinyl lettering was then applied. Rich Thayer then painted the gauge faces and removed the vinyl, which can be easily read when backlit. Needles were laser-cut by Classic Instruments and shaped by Tucci to follow the contour of each gauge face. Tucci then took a set of domed glass faces from Classic Instruments and cut them down to fit their receptacle. The electronic guts from a set of Auto Meter gauges were used, and then everything was wired up using an American Autowire Highway 22 system by Tucci Hot Rods.
The center console of the car houses the RetroTek electronic shifter with a Tucci-fabbed lever-style paddle shifter to move gears from First to Fourth and back. Rich Perez from RP Interiors created a headliner that incorporated a flip-down, Windows-based touch-screen that has both the Internet and iTunes music.
Showing some promise more than half-way through the build, the Schraders' coupe certainly
It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to see a high-end car through a 10-year build, and once the car was finally finished, the Schraders named it "Sinuous" and entered it in the Detroit Autorama in 2009, where it was picked as one of the Pirelli Great 8 contenders for the Don Ridler Memorial Award. And though it didn't end up winning the Ridler that year, the Schraders have been very happy to continue showing the car around the country for the past year, collecting awards and accolades everywhere it goes.