Once all of the fabrication was complete, the body was removed and sent over to the legendary Wade Hughes in Cincinnati. Hughes and his team brought the vintage sheetmetal back to life by first replacing any questionable panels, then setting the body lines, and finally priming and blocking the body to perfection. Having a low-mile mint 215ci Buick V-8 ready to go, Jerry enlisted help from Nailhead guru Dan LaGrou of D&D Fabricators in Almont, Michigan, to set up the induction using an Offenhauser intake matched with a pair of re-jetted Rochester carbs. For gear changes, a modified GM 700-R4 automatic by Gearstar Performance Transmissions of Akron, makes sure shifts are crisp.
With the body reattached to the rolling chassis it was then delivered to Lobeck’s V8 Shop in Cleveland, to be put through its paces. A thorough evaluation by chief fabricator Dan Tesar proved that the Jaguar front suspension wouldn’t make the cut. Also, in order to properly locate the front wheels within the fenders, a decision was made to stretch the chassis and fenders an additional 2 inches. Tesar then focused on the rear of the chassis by first fabbing rear-axle stabilizer bars and then adding a set of Pete & Jakes coilover shocks to soften the bumps to the Jaguar rearend tidied up by A-Plus Powder Coating. With the elimination of the Jaguar front torsion bar setup, a Chassis Engineering 2-inch dropped axle with matching spindles, Pete & Jakes hairpins and tube shocks, and a Durant Enterprises monoleaf spring gave the spine an era-correct feel. To bring the car to a screaming halt, fluid pushed through a Kenny’s Rod & Custom dual master cylinder via stainless lines gets the message across with Chassis Engineering discs up front and Jaguar discs rebuilt by Stainless Steel Brakes out back. For a perfect hot rod rake, steelies from Wheel Vintiques are capped with Michelin front and Goodyear rear rubber all navigated through a Unisteer box.
While the chassis was being dialed in, Mark Mindzora and Jack Taunt were busy installing new steel floors and custom-fabbed trunk area sheetmetal. The team also installed the vintage Triumph TR2 seats, lined up the new hood and sides from Hagan Street Rod Necessities, and Shadow Rods windshield frame and stanchions. Once Jack gave the body a final going over, Mark loaded his spray gun and laid down a decadent coating of custom-blended PPG Retro T polished green suede bringing the car to life. Once reassembled and wired, the T was fired up by the Lobeck’s team, giving Jerry the chance to shakedown the car prior to its final detailing. The car was then delivered to Woody’s Hot Rodz in Bright, Indiana, where Matt Baldwin designed a business office using plenty of comfy golden tan vinyl to recover the vintage Triumph seats and lay down complementing saddle brown carpet. The interior was completed with a Flaming River column topped with a Lobeck’s steering wheel while vitals are monitored through Classic Instruments dials. Woody’s also fabbed up the neat headlight bar and rollbar, which went off to Sherm’s Custom Plating for added dazzle. Thanks to the cumulative efforts of numerous talented stars and the support of his devoted wife, Mary Ann, the Retro T was debuted at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville in 2010. Knowing Jerry’s reputation for driving thousands of cross-country miles, we’re sure this is one hot rod that will never gather any dust.