The best way to get the next generation interested in street rods is to let them ride in one. Of course, it's a big generation, so you'll have to build a big street rod. That's what Brent Schieder was thinking when he decided to build a 1937 Ford Cabriolet this time around.
We say "this time around" because he's had a couple of other nice, late-'30s Fords in his collection. His first was a '37 Tudor sedan. It was a beautiful car but what he really wanted was a convertible. So his second car was a convertible-a super smooth, screaming orange '39 named, appropriately, "Orange Crush." If that sounds familiar, it may be because that car won a mountain of awards when it debuted and was featured in the Mar. '05 issue of STREET RODDER.
Brent's a family man now and "Orange Crush," with its pair of Recaro buckets and rumble seat, just isn't practical for carrying the whole household to the car show. So, when he was ready to start another project, he knew it had to have a back seat and a trunk. He got on the Internet and found this family sized '37 Club cabriolet in Kansas. It was just a body on a frame with unattached fenders and running boards when it arrived in Northern California.
The '37 shares a lot of style characteristics with "Orange Crush." That's not a coincidence. In both cases, Brent teamed up with builder Leonard Lopez, whose team at Dominator Street Rods in Tracy, California, fabricated the whole car.
The Kansas cabriolet sheetmetal was in sad shape, with quarter-panels that seemed to be evaporating-no big deal since Brent's plans called for extensive modification of virtually every panel on the car. Most of the sheetmetal was retained, repaired, and completely reworked. Mickey Galloway from Mickey's Magic in Brentwood, California, did much of the initial body reshaping. The car was sectioned approximately 1/2 inch in the rear and 1-1/2 inches in front to keep the desired proportions. The rotten quarters were replaced, and new doorskins, trunk skins, and a firewall were built. The exterior hardware was eliminated to clean up the lines. Galloway also created the handmade grille.
The Cerullo seats were wrapped...
The Cerullo seats were wrapped in solid and perforated leather, and embellished with metal inserts carrying the trim theme found all over the car, including the door panels.
In addition to sectioning, proportions were tweaked in other ways. The front end was lengthened to stretch the wheelbase a couple of inches. The doors were extended 2 inches as well. The front and rear fenders were reshaped, the wheel openings were radiused, and new running boards were added.
Paul Blatt at Dominator contributed much of the metalwork as well, including the stock hood that was massaged and matched with aluminum side skirts and a reshaped cowl. The headlights and bumpers were built at Dominator. Tri-Valley Auto Glass in Pleasanton, California, provided the glass for the laid-back V-butt windshield. Brent, a cabinet maker by vocation, used his woodworking skills to build the oak bows for the chopped top. When the sheetmetal was perfect, Dominator's in-house painter, Darrell Schneider, finished it in custom tan and cream, using DuPont Cromax Pro waterborne basecoat, with a custom pearl mid-coat and DuPont ChromaPremier 72100S clearcoat. Leonard told us that he's been using a lot of DuPont waterborne paint at Dominator because of its durability and quality, not to mention the advantages of lower VOC content. The side trim was shaped from brass then chromed by Sherm's Custom Plating in Sacramento, California. Closer inspection reveals the distinct shape of the trim, which Brent describes as a radiused bead on the top edge with a cove shape on the lower edge. That look is carried throughout the whole car; you'll see it on the inside door panel trim, mirror, taillights, seat trim, steering wheel, pedals, and even the wheels.
The classy exterior is matched by the choice of rolling stock: modified Fusion five-spokes from Schott Wheels with Crescent-style center caps. The 18x8 and 20x10 rims roll on P215/45R18 and P265/35R20 BFGoodrich g-Force radials.
The level of detail in the exterior requires the same level everywhere else. The interior keeps up just fine, starting with the wrap-around dash, custom fabricated at Dominator. The Classic Instruments gauges with custom faces are mounted in a one-off bezel. Sid Chavers covered the Cerullo seats in two-tone tan leather. Dominator built electronic microswitches into the door handles, with LED lights to illuminate them in the dark. The shift knob, pedals, mirror, and steering wheel (on a Flaming River column) are also custom parts from Dominator. Gil Lopez wired the car, including the Vintage Air A/C system. The screen below the dash is hooked to the backup camera and navigation system, and has iPod and DVD capability.
Brent, a cabinet maker by...
Brent, a cabinet maker by vocation, built the radiused wood inserts for the steering wheel outer ring. His work is covered by the leather.
Brent originally planned to aspirate the Kinsler-injected LS1 with a blower, but decided on turbos instead, just to do something different. Rebello Racing in Antioch, California-better known for racing powerplants than street engines-built the LS1, which is rated at 812 hp and 756 lb-ft of torque. Dominator built the headers using 1-3/4-inch tubing continuing into 2-1/2-inch exhaust tubing, with no mufflers.The custom airbox hides much of the engine, and the plumbing and wiring is also out of sight. Brentwood Transmissions built the 4L60E automatic, connected to a Speedway quick-change with 4.11 gears by a driveshaft from Kevin's Prop Shop in Antioch, California.
The stretched frame was built at Dominator using 1-5/8-inch x 0.120-wall tubing. Brent wanted "a road cruiser-with the suspension set up to stomp on it or put it through some S curves without worrying about it." The solution was independent front and rear suspension, custom-built by Dominator, using Bilstein coilovers front and rear. Speedway Engineering antiroll bars are used at both ends. Brakes are 14-inch Wilwood discs front and rear with a Wilwood master cylinder and proportioning valve.
The cabriolet has been a success on the show circuit this year, picking up awards at the Grand National Roadster Show, the Sacramento Autorama, and Goodguys' Del Mar Nationals, and earning an invitation to Blackie Gejeian's exclusive Fresno Autorama. But the glory hasn't caused Brent to lose sight of his reason for building a Club cabrio in the first place. There's room in the award-winning '37 for all the Schieders-Brent, his wife, Stephanie, son, Grant, and daughter, Camryn-and their luggage. The kids might be too young to appreciate their extraordinary family car right now, but it won't be long before they do.
The wraparound firewall on...
The wraparound firewall on the "Orange Crush" '39 made the LT1 look like "it was sitting in a bathtub," according to Brent. He liked that look and repeated it with the twin-turbo LS1 in the cabriolet.
The controls inside the center...
The controls inside the center console operate the seats, headlights, windows, retractable rear plate, and the push-button keyless ignition.
Dominator also built these...
Dominator also built these distinctive pedals.
The bezel for the Classic...
The bezel for the Classic Instruments gauges was fabricated at Dominator Street Rods. As Brent put it, "There's nothing off-the-shelf except maybe the seat frames."
We may never see the trunk...
We may never see the trunk like this again. Family trips are in the future for the Schieder cabriolet, and this space will quickly fill with luggage.
"Orange Crush" rode on 'bags,...
"Orange Crush" rode on 'bags, but this time Brent opted for coilovers. "No air here," he noted. The fuel tank is a bladder-style tank from Fuel Safe Racing Cells in Redmond, OR.