Regardless of whether you are taking on the task of building a diehard traditional hot rod or one with contemporary accents, you need to follow your vision until the end to ensure the sum of the parts will work seamlessly when you’re done. Dave Rodenbaugh, of Baden, Pennsylvania, grew up in an area where there was no shortage of high-performance V-8s tearing up the local streets. Regardless of whether the cars were cruising the strip or lining up for late-night street racing, it was an obvious influence to getting him hooked.

Initially enamored with muscle cars, he owned a number of fire-breathing Chevelles and GTOs until one fateful night when an older acquaintance showed up with a bitchin’ Deuce five-window and took him out for a blast on the ’strip. The coupe was downright wicked, as Dave tells us, fully fendered, un-chopped, and loaded with attitude and a killer rake. From that point on, it was as if muscle cars had never existed since he couldn’t get the vision of the Deuce out of his mind. It wasn’t long after that he took on his first hot rod build while staying true to his hunger for big horsepower, this time in a small package. Since then Dave built a number of traditional T-buckets and T roadsters, however he never forgot the coupe that inspired him to get into hot rods in the first place.

Originally wanting to build a clone of John Milner’s American Graffiti coupe, he purchased a Deuce chassis and five-window coupe body to get the project rolling. Disappointed with the quality of the fiberglass reproduction body, the buildup came to a standstill while working on other projects. Dave then decided to look for an original Model A coupe body instead and listed the Deuce body on eBay for sale. He received an immediate response from a buyer offering him a complete running ’30 Ford coupe as an even swap. A deal was made and as soon as the Model A landed at his shop, plans began for its reincarnation. Once the car was blown apart it was time to get started by building a traditional spine as a base. Dave placed a call to TCI Engineering for one of their rock-solid ’32 Ford chassis and got busy out back by adding a Ford 9-inch rear filled with 3.00:1 cogs suspended in place by a four-link and Panhard bar, while bumps get sorted by Carrera coilover shocks. Up front with a nod to tradition, a Super Bell 4-inch dropped axle was deftly matched to Super Bell spindles, and polished stainless hairpins, while a Posies front leaf spring and Pete & Jakes tube shocks keep the road smooth. When it was time to tame the beast, a combination of Ford drums out back and Wilwood discs and calipers up front pushing fluid through a dual reservoir master gets the job done. It’s set to roll on a classic combination of Wheel Vintiques 15-inch bigs ’n’ littles chrome reverse wheels capped with Firestone wide whites and dragster cheater slicks out back to set a perfect rake. To complete the chassis, Dave bobbed the rear ’rails and added a custom front spreader bar fashioned from a camshaft.

Wanting to add just the right balance of searing horsepower to the mix it was obvious that only a big-block would do to bring this shaker to life. A call was placed to Elmer’s Engines in Wexford, Pennsylvania, to assemble a 468ci Rat starting with a ’72 Chevy block and heads. The team at Elmer’s balanced the crank and rods and machined the block to perfection and followed by adding a COMP Cams roller cam and rockers, along with 10.75:1 slugs. Sparked to life by MSD, plenty of air gets sucked through a pair of Edelbrock 500-cfm carbs perched atop an Edelbrock dual-quad intake while spent gases get dumped through custom lake pipes. Dressed to impress with just enough dazzle and polished aluminum, the big-block nailed to the ’rails is a visual standout. Everyone knows real hot rods have three pedals so gear changes go through a Saginaw four-speed tweaked by John Kunsak of Wexford via a custom driveshaft.