Hammered and channeled by the Gas Axe Garage, the coupe was set on a modified A chassis wi
Decades have rolled on since the dawn of hot rodding with each one being greeted by a distinct and memorable styling change. Early it was the stripped-down coupes and roadsters that evolved into the post-war era’s hard-core engineering. Next was the classic lines updated to include chopped tops, channeled bodies, and slick sprayjobs. No matter what era sparked your magneto, there was always something out there to spin your crank or light up your tires.
Growing up as a teenager in the early ’60s, Dorr Johnson, of Caledonia, Michigan, remembered back to the modest days of hot rodding where, in his eyes, ’60s-era rods ruled the streets and the show circuit. Here was a kid who literally grew up on a used car lot (his dad owned one), having the chance to check out everything from fire-breathing big-inch Detroit street racers to a classic Stutz roadster since there was always a multitude of models on the lot. Coupled with his passion for early Fords, it didn’t take long before he pieced together a ’40 Ford Tudor with a laid-down stance and a stoke Flathead to cruise the circuit on Monroe Avenue in nearby Grand Rapids.
A ’51 Ford dash was chiseled to fit packed with ’53 Buick gauges while a one-off cast alum
The ’60s-era show rods were at their peak at venues like the Civic Center’s Grand Rapids Autorama, which laid the final groundwork consuming Dorr’s senses each time he attended the show. As the years passed there were other hopped-up Fords but they eventually gave way to a number of British sports cars, including a ’60 Austin Healey he heavily campaigned on the SCCA circuit as well as holding a class record in the ECTA.
After retiring, Dorr always felt something was missing from the shop. He never lost his passion for old Fords and began to focus once again on searching for some of Henry’s finest. After locating a ’36 five-window coupe, ’40 coupe, and an A/V-8 coupe, his collection started to ring true to his youth once again, but something was still missing. As a teen he neither had the funds nor time to build a proper ’60s-era show rod and now he had the chance to dial in the dream.
While searching for a shop to take on the build, he stopped by the Gas Axe Garage in Wyoming, Michigan, and met with shop owner Mike Boerema to discuss his ideas. Knowing that Mike was a diehard traditionalist, Dorr presented him with his concept for building a dramatic hot rod encompassing all the classic styling points and vibrancy associated with the era. Immediately the pair became fast friends and with their combined ideas, began to review options for the build. There just so happened to be a stalled ’30 Ford coupe project in the back of the shop that a prior owner needed to bail out of. A deal was made with Dorr taking the keys to the coupe.