The first time we saw Glen Baugus' chopped-and-channeled five-window coupe, it looked ready to leap across the parking lot-and the silver paint was almost blinding in the sunlight. Glen informed us right away that he wasn't the builder, just the extremely lucky owner. We had already decided from its level of detail, imagination, taste, and craftsmanship that this had to be a pro-built hot rod. Wrong. Completely homebuilt, Glen said, and if we were going to write a story about the car, we needed to talk to the guy who built it.
There is zero shop time in this car, Jim Lopochonsky confirmed. He did all the work at home, with body and paintwork done by his wife, Diana, and fabrication help from his son, Jamison.
The gas station coupe from...
The gas station coupe from Jim Lopochonsky's memory probably didn't have an interior like this. A Lokar 23-inch shifter rises out of the handbuilt transmission tunnel/center console. A rubber shifter boot would have been easier, but this art deco steel housing is cooler.
He wanted to build a '60s-style hot rod like the ones he saw in magazines as a kid and, in particular, like the mean-looking Model A five-window with six 2s he remembers seeing at the service station in his town. Jim sat on the same side of the school bus every morning just to start his day with a look at that coupe-and on the opposite side in the afternoon for another eyeful. In the years that followed, he built lots of cars, but that coupe "stuck in my skull."
Diana found this coupe for sale in a trader paper. Jim kept the body and got rid of the rest. The top had been chopped, but not enough and not well, so he re-chopped it for a total of 4-1/2 inches and added the white insert and drilled visor. The headlights are from a '29 Model A and the taillights are '50 Pontiac, true to tradition. The firewall was reversed to make room for the Chevy 350. Diana made the sheetmetal repairs and sprayed the PPG Bright Silver paint.
The body sits channeled over a homebuilt frame, which Diana painted in a darker silver shade. The 3x2 boxed 'rails were Z'd 3 inches in front and 15 in the rear. The perfect stance is enhanced by a Super Bell 4-inch drop drilled I-beam axle, '48 Ford spindles, hairpins, Posies springs, and friction shocks, with a Panhard bar for handling. The suicide front end stretches the wheelbase to 116 inches, about a foot longer than stock. The ladder bar rearend is from a '70 Ford Bronco, with 4.11 gears spinning Mosler axles. It hangs on coilovers and Ford shocks. Jim kept the Bronco rear brakes, adding '48 Ford drums in front to keep the '60s style.
Firestone Deluxe Champion wide whites, 6.00-16 and 7.00-16, were mounted on 16-inch '35 Ford wire wheels, painted with Red Jewel PPG paint and finished with caps and rings. The inside of the front wheels also wear beauty rings (notched for wheel weights), an almost imperceptible detail that takes the car up a rung.
The six-deuce setup that impressed Jim as a kid is replicated by Holley 94s on an Offenhauser manifold. Finned aluminum valve covers and Sanderson headers add to the style. The headers run into Limefire pipes with Car Chemistry mufflers. A TH350 trans is connected to a custom driveshaft.
Jim "didn't know how to sew a button on a shirt" when he started this project, so he bought a good upholstery machine and learned to use it. He covered the interior with white leather rolls 'n' pleats, and handbuilt the all-steel custom console.
Jim's favorite part of hot rodding is the buildup. When he completes a project, he's more interested in starting another one than in playing with the finished car-so the coupe he'd been planning since his school bus days ended up listed on the Internet and was sold to Glen Baugus early in 2010.
Glen liked everything about the car, from the stance to the wheels and the carbs, not to mention the fact that this hot rod was built for cruising. Glen had owned the coupe for only a few months when we met him at the Street Rod Nationals. As we found out fast, there is much to be impressed by on this amazing Model A. The most impressive part is the one you can't see-that it is a genuine homebuilt hot rod.