Our idea of a true custom is a car that has been modified with combinations of components and styles from a variety of influences. Denis and Daryl Ducommun’s ’50 Ford Business Coupe definitely fits that definition. But in addition to all of its custom components and modifications, this sweet ’50 draws style from the variety of people who contributed to the build—from Denis and Daryl to the builders to the previous owner who got this shoebox project started on the right foot.

Before Denis and his son, Daryl, owned the car, it belonged to Dave Bailey, a longtime family friend. Daryl was a fan of the shoebox and was a frequent visitor to Bailey’s shop, checking on the progress. During one visit, Bailey mentioned that he was considering putting a Chevy small-block in the car. Daryl encouraged him to put a Ford in his Ford instead. On his next visit, there was a 289 from a ’65 Falcon, ready to go.

Machining on the 0.030-over engine was performed by Arnold Motor Supply in Spencer, Iowa. An Edelbrock four-barrel carburetor and manifold provide gas and air, lit by a PerTronix ignition. Blockhugger headers route exhaust through 2-1/2-inch pipes with Turbo mufflers. Sioux Mufflers pitched in with the exhaust work.

Sadly, Bailey became ill and died not long afterward. Daryl and Denis decided to purchase the car in order to finish the project their friend has started. It got off to a slow start, but after a few months, the Ducommuns contacted Brent Elsen at Dakota Muscle Cars in Sioux City, South Dakota, to help them turn the shoebox into something special. The ’50 was still in the very early stages of its build when the Ducommuns, Elsen, Randy Huggenberger and Mike Ohrtman from DMC began formulating their plans. Their plans combined a lot of influences, mixing elements from the car’s time period with contemporary elements—the way customs have always been built.

For starters, all factory brightwork was stripped from the body. The fenders, quarters, and ’51 hood were peaked. The front was cleaned up by eliminating the hood trim, frenching the headlights, replacing the factory grille trim with a ’54 Pontiac insert, and custom-formed surround and splash pan. The stock taillights with blue dot lenses were frenched as well. The stock bumpers were chromed at Industrial Plating in Omaha and flipped for a lower profile.

Moving above the beltline, DMC chopped 2-3/4 inches out of the top and modified the door and quarter window openings for flush-mounted one-piece glass. The one-piece windshield was supplied by Street Rod Glass.

When the bodywork was done and it was time to choose the colors, Denis and Daryl weren’t picky. “Any color except brown or tan,” they said. Elsen eventually convinced them that those were the only colors that would fit the car—and shot the paint. It’s a Glasurit color called Brandywine Copper Mica, but Elsen, Denis, Daryl, and just about everybody else who’s seen it call it root beer.

The tan takes over in the interior, where ’99 Cadillac Escalade seats were cut down and covered in leather upholstery by Tracey Weaver at Recovery Room Hot Rod Interiors in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. A custom console was notched for the Hurst shifter and holds the controls for the Phipps billet vents for the Vintage Air A/C, and the Kenwood head unit—plus a pair of beverage holders. Auto Meter gauges were added to the ’51 Ford dash and a GTX01 steering wheel from Billet Specialties was mounted to a Flaming River tilt column.

The chassis was modified with a Fatman Mustang II–style frontend and triangulated four-bar suspension in the rear, with RideTech ShockWave air shocks all around. Steering is improved by a power rack.

The transmission in the Shoebox is a Hurst-shifted ’65 Ford T-10 four-speed. The Ford 8-inch limited-slip rearend runs 3.25:1 gears. Stock drum brakes in the rear and 11-inch front discs grab 18-inch satin-finish Intro Saltster wheels. The tires are low-profile 235/40R18 and 225/35R18 Nitto NT555 radials.

The finished car is a knockout and has been showing up all over the country this year, sometimes a long way from the Ducommuns’ hometown of Larrabee, Iowa. In Pleasanton, California, this past spring the Ford was a finalist for the Goodguys Mother’s West Coast Custom of the Year award. A week later, at the Goodguys Del Mar Nats, we added the ’50 to this year’s STREET RODDER Top 100 list. More accolades are undoubtedly on the way, and we’ve got to believe Dave Bailey would’ve been happy to see what Daryl and Denis and the DMC crew have accomplished with this Shoebox.