Don Wilbur always kept fast company. In the '60s he partnered on a Junior Fueler. "We held eight national records and won a lot of races," he recalls. Then came sprint cars, Super Modifieds, NASCAR, and karts. "I even did an Indy car for a short period of time," he notes. He and three partners raced it twice before crashing it. "Then we quit-it got expensive real fast." Then came a succession of Deuce coupes and roadsters.
Like the column, the steering...
Like the column, the steering wheel looks like a '40 piece but it's not. It's also a Juliano's piece, and like the mast it started as raw aluminum stock. Steve Skuhra at Pyramid narrowed the '40 dash behind it.
But this one's a little different. First, it has twice as many doors as the others. It's also the culmination of several shops' work, starting with Pyramid Auto Engineering. His instruction to John Barbero: Make a chassis and make it low. "Like real low," Don says.
For the most part Barbero has made low platforms his shop's platform issue. His take on the way things should look is slanted-literally, as in heavily to the front and unforgivingly low. He built that chassis his customary way, with a low-profile round-tube center crossmember that tucks the drivetrain and exhaust high within the chassis and far away from the pavement. He pushed a Model A-style front crossmember 3 inches ahead of the stock to lengthen the wheelbase. It's a trick that counters the relative heft of a sedan's hind quarters, a region that can get pretty ponderous without the fenders to balance it. Kenny Gilmour ensured that balance by clipping the body's top 3-1/2 inches at the windshield and 3 inches at the rear. Based on illustrator Jeff Allison's drawings, Pyramid's Steve Skuhra frenched a pair of '37 Ford taillights into the rear quarters.
The Fordor seat is like a...
The Fordor seat is like a phaeton's in the sense that its back shell attaches to the B-pillars, so splicing strips of tin to its edges pushes the seat back for more legroom. C&B Upholstery trimmed the car in taupe-colored leather and vinyl.
Barbero's wheelbase trick relocated the grille 3 inches forward yet Don requested the grille to sit 1-1/4 inches lower than stock. "My three-window and my roadster were both like that," he says. "It really cleans 'em up." Metal shaper of note, Al Swedberg, tuned a few sheets of sheet aluminum to make the three-piece hood. Reflecting upon Don's race car history, Swedberg fastened it to the body with quarter-turn fasteners.
After sorting the rest of the chassis, the Pyramid crew shipped the car to the yonder side of the Cascades-Spokane to be specific-where Don and his wife, Nancy, live. From there he shuttled the car to various shops, among them Rod Builders, where Bob Bissonette drilled and sleeved the framehorns and relocated the fuel filler neck to the tank center per Jeff Allison's instruction. Korey Huenink tuned up the door edges, closed the large gap between the front and rear doors, and shot the car in a custom-mix PPG Concept series urethane.
The induction withstanding...
The induction withstanding the 350 Chevrolet that Spokane's Howard Green built is rather modest. It wears Mooneyes rocker covers and breathers and a set of Patriot full-length-coated headers.
Tim Stromberger at Tim's Hot Rods, the shop that built Jack White's over-the-top Airflow and Mike Shifflett's similarly radical Zephyr, reassembled the car. Howard Green and Roger Domini tailored a 350/350 drivetrain combo and C&B Upholstery trimmed the interior in a combination of taupe-colored leather and vinyl.
Don still keeps fast company; he produced the Spokane Auto Boat Speed Show for 46 years and currently campaigns an A/Nostalgia Dragster. So how could a guy predisposed to speed find it in himself to build a four sedan, a car historically cast as a way station for donor parts? "Nancy and I just wanted to be able to take our grandkids with us," he reflects.