Rarely do rodders experience the perfect storm when it comes to building a hot rod-when all the components come together and the final product exceeds your dreams. Occasionally you'll have lightning strikes when something goes well-like when you actually find an unmolested car in a barn, or the hood you made actually fits the opening-but we all know that doesn't happen often enough.
There is a lot going on in the engine compartment. The base engine is a 392 SVO Ford (topp
So if you were to sit back and think about how you'd like to build your next car (who might be involved, what the engine would be, picking the right color, etc.), getting some of the great hot rod minds together to stew on the idea would not only be a benefit, but most likely a dream come true for your typical rodder.
Ken Reister, from Littleton, Colorado, knows this process because he has already been involved on the highest level of rod building. His cars have won both the Don Ridler Memorial Award (twice) and the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award (once), and being able to discuss design concepts with some of the builders Ken knows is a distinct advantage. One builder Ken has worked closely with in the past is Chip Foose, who designed Ken's award-winning '36 Ford roadster "Impression".
Reister's Rod Shop is a business he opened a few years back to build and sell hot rods, and the team of fabricators he's put together is top-notch. When the idea came up to build a 1933 Ford three-window highboy, ideas were tossed around, and Ken asked Foose for some of his thoughts, one of which was to use a '33 Ford coupe but add the nose of a '36 Ford. Updating a particular year of car with parts from a newer model (a '32 grille on a '29, a '40 dash in a '32 roadster, etc.) have long been in vogue in the hot rod community, but adding a '36 nose to a '33 coupe isn't as easy as saying it. It was, however, easier to illustrate the concept, so Foose put pen to paper and laid out his ideas in a drawing that would become the blueprint for Ken's new ride.
Though it might appear stock, there are plenty of custom items inside the car, including t
Work began at Reister's Rod Shop with the build of the chassis, which would be set up on a wheelbase of 117 inches. Pinched up front and stretched out back, the front end received a Super Bell I-beam axle with SO-CAL Speed Shop hairpins and Pro Shocks, while out back a triangulated four-link setup was used with a Ford 9-inch rear (4.11:1 Posi). Bilstein coilover shocks were used on the rear along with 11-inch drum brakes (covered with faux Buick finned drums) while Wilwood disc brakes were hidden inside the finned front Buick drums.
Having Foose involved in a project and not having him design a special set of wheels for the vehicle is like ordering a cake without the icing-it'd be good, but why not go all out? For this car, Foose designed a one-off set (17x4.5 and 18x6) of smoothies that look like an updated Halibrand smoothie from the '50s. Curtis Speed Equipment cut the billet aluminum wheels before they were wrapped in Excelsior 4.50 rubber up front and Firestone 7.00 hides out back.
Power for the coupe would stay in the Ford family with a 392 SVO engine, which boasts 475 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque (both numbers from a dyno). Ken says he has to feather it through the first two gears just to keep the tires from cooking-and it's the inspiration on why the quick car earned its "Lightning Rod" name. The internals are all Ford, but a SPAL cooling fan was used in conjunction with a custom Walker radiator and MSD wires and ignition box were also used. Backed to a Tremec five-speed trans (with gears selected via a Reister's Rod Shop-made shifter filled with lightening holes), the engine also utilizes a handmade exhaust (2-1/2 inches) and a Kinsler mechanical fuel injection system that has been converted to electronic fuel injection. Besides the handmade air cleaners and water neck, the valve covers are also custom (looking like they belong on an SOHC engine).