Behind every hot rod there’s an interesting story to tell, regardless of whether the car came together from newly struck steel and factory-fresh parts or if it was hauled out of a barn. They all share a common thread of the journey bringing them back to life.

For Mike and Marcia Johnston, of Livonia, New York, their lifelong dream of finding an unmolested vintage ’34 Ford sedan as a base for their hot rod came with its own unique tale. Tracing the roots of a car built over 75 years ago could easily leave your mind in a tailspin, unless you happened to come across that one particular rare find that had all the details intact.

Thanks to the Internet, Mike’s search for a sedan was a lot easier than it could have been. One lucky stroke of the keyboard brought him to an ad placed for an original two-owner ’34 sedan that just so happened to be within a two-hour drive of his home. The car was originally purchased at Hagg Ford by a woman living in Shoemakersville, Pennsylvania, who drove the car until 1959 when she brought it into the dealership for a repaint. While there, she drove the new Fairlane 500 and was astounded by its power steering so she decided to trade the old ’34 in for the new model.

The sedan was immediately snapped-up by an employee and it remained in his personal collection until his recent passing after which it was then listed on the web for sale. Knowing he was destined to purchase the car, Mike contacted good friend and accomplished race car and hot rod builder Lee Osborne to take the ride to check out the ’34 with him. Upon seeing the car, Osborne advised Mike it was probably the finest original running steel car he had seen in the past 30 years. Not wasting any time, Mike purchased the car on the spot and loaded it up for the ride home. With the car now in his garage it was time to set a game plan to determine the specific style of build the car would follow. In talking with Osborne, he advised Mike to head to the Detroit Autorama to study the various build styles and to talk with various builders to see who he would like to work with. Taking Osborne’s advice, Mike and Marcia visited the Autorama and after a weekend of studying designs, were able to decide on the right path for the car to take. While there, they happened to meet up with Ray Bartlett of The Hot Rod Garage in Denton, Maryland, whose vision and ideas personified everything they imagined their sedan to encompass. A deal was made and the ’34 was delivered to Bartlett’s shop to begin its resurrection.

Long known for their distinctive traditional hot rods, Bartlett and his team at The Hot Rod Garage began the disassembly of the sedan to evaluate what would stay on board for the long haul. To create a suitable base for the project to rise from, which would look great, and handle well with plenty of cutting-edge performance, Bartlett contacted Just-a-Hobby at Lobeck’s V8 Hot Rod Parts in Cleveland to build a spine for the car. The Just-a-Hobby team also C’d the rear of the ’rails and then moved them inboard 2 inches per side to accommodate a wider rear wheel and tire combination. Once the frame was received, The Hot Rod Garage began to set up the suspension, starting out back with a polished stainless Pete & Jakes four-bar and Panhard bar link to a pair of Aldan Eagle coilover shocks to help suspend a Ford 9-inch rearend in place filled with 3.50:1 cogs. To give the car plenty of road handling capabilities, a fully polished Heidts Superide IFS was installed up front, complemented by coilover shocks, power rack-and-pinion steering, and an antiroll bar. Pushing fluid through a Wilwood master cylinder, Wilwood 11-inch front discs and 11-inch rear Ford drums bring a set of Billet Specialties Legacy-series wheels capped with BFGoodrich rubber safely to a stop.