For some people it takes only a single brush with fate to forever change their lives and set them on a road that will influence their entire future. It was over 60 years ago when Dick Brown of Springfield, Massachusetts, placed his hand on the "Book of Gow," swearing to devote his life's passion to Ford hot rods and Flathead V-8s.
Nifty shaved taillights look...
Nifty shaved taillights look very cool blended into the bumperettes.
While walking down a path at age 16, his young gaze caught light of a '37 Ford convertible calling out for attention. With organized hot rodding gathering strength from coast to coast, in 1952 Dick became one of the founding members of the legendary Strokers Car Club of Springfield. As the years passed, the Strokers became well known for not only their camaraderie and well-designed hot rods, but also for their numerous wins at dragstrips across the New England region, including Orange, Charlestown, and Sanford. At the '59 NHRA Nationals their A/Dragster was the fastest un-blown gas car in New England with best quarter-mile times of 10.15 at 146.2, which was seriously fast at the time.
Dick Brown exhumed a seasoned...
Dick Brown exhumed a seasoned '46 Ford block and a 4-inch Merc crank from long-term storage and had Frank Lamb build a stout V-8. The candy store of goods include finned aluminum Offenhauser heads, an Isky Max No. 1 cam, Egge slugs, and plenty of action up top with an Edmunds two-pot breathing deep though Stromberg 97 carbs. It's not every day you see an original club jacket draped over the steering wheel of a perfect gow job. Dick is a founding member of the legendary Strokers Car Club of Springfield, MA, from way back in 1952.
Dick built and drove quite a few wicked cars as the decades passed. One particular car, a '41 Ford convertible was saved from the crusher and brought back from the dead and transformed into an elegant full-custom by Dave Simard and the team at East Coast Custom in Leominster, Massachusetts. As with all of his past cars, it too was powered by a built Flathead linked to three pedals, proving his obvious dedication to vintage Ford power.
However, even after all of the years there was still a car that lurked deep in the back of his mind. Dick was infatuated with chopped '35-36 Ford coupes and it was a body style he had built over and over in his mind ever since he was a teenager. To fulfill this lifelong dream, he set out to locate a suitable donor car to get started. His research led him to an opportunity to purchase a car that was located in Argentina, which was supposedly a barn find in mint condition. Add to it the fact that it would hold a bit of mystique being an imported car; Dick took the risk of opting to buy it sight unseen.
After what seemed like an eternity, the car finally arrived and instead of looking factory fresh, it looked like it had spent its entire life submerged in salt water! With very little salvageable on the '35, Dick's heart sank but he persevered and promised to forge on with his dream.
Attending a local cruise night in Scarborough, Maine, where he now resides, he came across a perfect bone-stock '35 coupe owned by old friend Tom Penney. Seems the coupe was fresh out of long-term storage since the '50s and would be the perfect victim to get cut up. A deal was made between the two friends where Penney took the disaster from Argentina in a partial trade along with some cash.
Knowing exactly how he wanted to approach the new build, Dick wasted no time in visiting Back Bay Customs in Portland, Maine, to map out a plan for the resurrection of the coupe. While some would shudder at the thought of cutting up a perfect original car, Dick struck a wide grin when the cutting wheels came out to get started. Wanting to retain as much of the original car as possible, Dick decided to have Alan Berry of Back Bay Customs work his magic on the stock spine by first cleaning it up, and then setting up the suspension. Out back, Berry flattened the rear crossmember and followed by adding a stock leaf spring and radius rods, Monroe tube shocks, and a stock rearend filled with 4.11:1 cogs. Meanwhile up front a Magnum 4-inch dropped axle with '40 Ford spindles and a stock leaf spring linked to an un-split wishbone, and Monroe tube shocks soften the ride. To make sure plenty of stopping power was on hand, a set of '46 Ford binders push fluid through steel lines when a '40 Ford master cylinder gets the call. Giving the car a perfect stance, a set of original 15-inch Ford steelies topped with BFGoodrich/Coker wide whites look stylish sporting '50 Merc caps 'n' rings.
Stewart Warner dials, combined...
Stewart Warner dials, combined with a '46 Ford Super DeLuxe wheel set the tone for the interior. Plenty of attention from John Gagnon of Lyman, ME, brought every bit of style to life, thanks to just enough tan Naugahyde rolls and pleats to seal the deal.
To continue the history of running hopped-up Flatheads in all of his cars, Dick located a 276ci '46 Ford block and 4-inch Merc crank in a musty old local basement, which was rumored to have seen plenty of duty in the '40s at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine. He brought the base to Frank Lamb of Gorham, Maine, to assemble a stout powerhouse, incorporating period-perfect parts, including an Isky stick, Offy finned aluminum heads, and slugs from Egge. A Navarro two-pot intake breathes deep through a pair of Stromberg 97s capped by Edmunds air cleaners. Spark comes from a Mallory dual-point ignition while Red's headers dump the spent gases through Brockman mufflers as the gears are worked through a '46 Ford box.
In order to create a timeless masterpiece, the team at Back Bay Customs studied the design of the coupe in great detail before masterfully lowering the lid 3-1/2 inches, perfectly matching the newfound flowing lines and grace to the body. From there they continued on by then removing the spare tire, shaving the taillights, and finally adding '40 Chevrolet headlights to the mix. Once the body was massaged to perfection they gave it a lustrous coating of hot rod black vibe.
To add just enough elegance to the interior, a combination of stock and Stewart Warner dials tell tales while a '46 Ford Super DeLuxe steering wheel helps navigate the course. For comfort, the original stock seat was re-covered in rolled and pleated tan Naugahyde by John Gagnon of Lyman, Maine, who also completed the interior with matching panels, and just enough plush tan wool carpeting. The finished car encompasses Dick's boyhood dreams of owning a dramatic and noteworthy '35 Ford coupe that looks like it came fresh from the pages of his favorite "little book" from back in the day. Seeing the smile on Dick's face as he fired up the vintage Flathead for a blast down the road was priceless. And so are the smiles from rodders everywhere when they see this period-correct East Coast custom slide down the road.