For some street rod builders the journey is the build. They toil endlessly in their garages to transform ideas into rolling art, every day moving closer to the destination. Yet when the destination nears, and the car is ready to roll into the light of day, their eyes mysteriously turn toward the horizon and you can almost hear the gears meshing inside their heads as they lay plans for a new journey with a new project. The paint on the finished car has yet to dry before boxes filled with parts begin arriving for another build. Clearly, it’s the journey not the destination that fuels this breed of street rod builder.
Nothing lets you expand your travel experience like having your very own Mullins trailer a
But Ron Beard, who operates a small yet efficient shop in Eugene, Oregon, known as Beard’s Auto Works, feels that the journey is more than just about reshaping metal and turning wrenches. It’s also about turning the wheels on the finished car. “The destination,” Ron says, “is the journey.” Translation: Enjoy the car that you just built because it represents hours, days, months, sometimes even years, of your toil and talent, so revel in it all, not just the time spent in the garage burning midnight oil.
Ron, with the support and encouragement of his wife, Lois, likes to practice what he preaches. It took Ron a year and a half to complete his personal 1933 Ford convertible that he began during the summer of 2007. The car, based on an American Speed Company all-steel body, was only two days new when he and Lois drove it to the 2009 Goodguys event in Puyallup, Washington, where it was presented with a Goodguys Pick award.
Power comes from the ’04 modular Ford 5.4L sporting Sanderson headers and Sullivan injecti
Part two of the journey had just begun, and during the next two years the car snatched a bevy of awards, among them the STREET RODDER magazine Top 100 at 2009 Pleasanton, Pleasanton’s Class Act the following year, the Art Morrison Pick at Puyallup 2010, and Pinky’s Top 10 at this year’s Goodguys meet in Pueblo, Colorado.
Awards like this are fine and dandy, but if you ask Ron and Lois, all those glittery, shiny plaques and trophies represent only a small portion of the journey. The real fun begins when they hit the open road in their open-top car where they enjoy a panoramic view of this great country. This past spring they packed their Mullins trailer, hitched it to the ’33, and set out from their home in Eugene to Colorado, with a layover in Texas to visit Ron’s mother and kids before heading for the Grand Canyon. Next stop was Pomona, California, for the L.A. Convertibles Show, and sometime before they made it back up the coast to Eugene the convertible’s odometer clicked past the 10,000-mile mark.
The Nissan bucket seats are stitched by Andy “Stitch” Smith of Larry’s Upholstery in caram
But if we could retrace Ron’s route all the way back to his 1,800-square-foot shop, and turn the clock back to 2008, we’d probably enjoy an opportunity to see how he gave what is arguably one of Ford’s most appealing body styles an even more elegant look. The shop journey began when Ron ordered a frame from the Convertible Shop, specifying an additional 3 inches to the rails. “They told me that it wouldn’t work, but I just told them to build it.” See, Ron had plans to lengthen the hood portion of the body 3 inches, doing so by essentially pivoting the classic shovelnose grille out 3 inches at the bottom, using the top of the radiator as the pivot point. He meticulously massaged the accompanying sheetmetal along the hood skirts and fenders to maintain proportions, and although all this metalwork sounds easy, it took two weeks just to gain the proper lines. The result is a front end that’s even more elegant than when Edsel Ford gave the nod to the original classic design back in 1932.