Most folks think about the future at some time or other. As street rodders, we have ideas in our heads as to how to improve the car we are driving, or a million ways we would build a future project. As a child, did you ever draw photos of cars you had seen in the magazines at the drug store and imagine how you would like them to be? If you did, dig them out, and you may be surprised how cool some of them are.
The reworked Ford and Lincoln...
The reworked Ford and Lincoln dash panels and two-tone upholstery give a warm invitation to slide right in and fire up the go power. Stitcher Mickey McVay drove to Oregon twice to upholster the car right in Donn Lowe’s shop.
Doug Beattie of Vancouver, Washington, has had this design in his head, needing to escape, for years. A tip from a friend found a donor ‘40 Ford coupe with good sheetmetal, giving him the basis to start his long held dream. Forty Fords are one of the iconic hot rods of all time, and their art deco design makes them a car you don’t usually mess with when it comes to changing that design.
Doug is no newbie in the car world, starting at age 14 with an Olds-powered ‘30 Ford Model A coupe. Being mechanically minded certainly didn’t hurt building his business, as well as a bunch of hot rods over the ensuing years. To get started, he went to see Donn Lowe, and his sidekick Eric Johnson, in Oregon City, Oregon. Lowe is a very well-known metal massager and grassroots customizer, hailing originally from the northeast. Forty Fords can be a real challenge if you start messing with the lines; like chopping the top, sectioning the body, then dropping what’s left down over the frame. One of the few guys who can pull it off is Lowe, and the proof is in the final photos. Doug added ‘40 Lincoln headlights and ‘54 Plymouth taillights, which seem to belong there, like Ford design had thought of it. The hood was pancaked to balance out the final overall look after completely redesigning and reshaping the entire body. Bumpers were custom-made from two ‘61 Corvairs for the front and a ‘47 Pontiac for the rear, and plated along with all the rest of the shiny stuff by Oregon Plating of Portland, Oregon.
A ‘40 Lincoln donated the...
A ‘40 Lincoln donated the steering column and the restored steering wheel. The era was called the Art Deco period, and looking at the design of the wheel gives a great example of the times.
Rolling stock is important to any righteous rodder, and this coupe has the best. Doug and Johnson started with the stock ‘40 frame, boxing it the entire length and adding a custom crossmember and removable panels for access to wiring and plumbing. After this came the Currie 9-inch with 3:00 limited-slip gears. To hold it down, custom polished stainless steel four-link, antiroll and Panhard bars were made. Polished coilover shocks and 11-inch drum brakes round out the rear suspension.
Moving on, the front is made up of a fully polished Heidts independent front suspension and polished coilovers. The front brakes are 11-inch Wilwood with a chromed Wilwood master cylinder and proportioning valve. Fabbed up to make all this work was a set of custom pedals. The steering is rack-and-pinion and is connected to a ‘40 Lincoln Continental column and restored steering wheel. Even the gas tank was made right there in the shop in stainless steel, holding a generous 16 gallons.
The center of the dash that...
The center of the dash that appears to be a radio speaker panel drops down on hinges to reveal additional controls.
Restored and reworked to modern...
Restored and reworked to modern gauges by Classic Instruments the ‘40 Lincoln Zephyr panel is truly exquisite. With a matching clock on the passenger side the fascia is balanced out in symmetry and looks OEM to the casual observer.
Stitcher Mickey McVay went...
Stitcher Mickey McVay went to great lengths to make this a perfect job. He even laminated and carved small pieces of wood to fit into the trunk hinges so he could cover them with leather and the hinges would be filled and look like solid pieces.
This is a full -dressed Ford...
This is a full -dressed Ford 351 Cleveland V-8 with dual Edelbrock 500-cfm carbs and a Crane cam.
Customs in general are notorious for looking good on the outside, but don’t worry about what is underneath, or “all show and no go!” Not the case here with Doug’s old coupe. It has a Ford 351 Cleveland V-8 machined by Wayne Harry of Vancouver and screwed together by Harry and Doug. As you can see, Doug is a hands-on kind of guy, going to the best in the field when needed, and doing all he can himself. They installed a Crane cam and roller rockers and added a 2x4 Edelbrock manifold with matching Edelbrock 500-cfm Performer carburetors, and finished it off with vintage Edelbrock valve covers. To keep the carbs from getting choked up, they then added Stellings dual custom-made air cleaners, and to exit the exhaust, in-house stainless headers and pipes with glasspacks. Putting this to the road is a Ford AOD transmission juiced up by Performance Transmission in Vancouver, Washington, with a modified Lokar shifter and in-house chrome-plated driveshaft. Additionally, the chassis rides on EVOD 16x6 wheels that were one-offs designed by Doug, and are wrapped in 205/75/16 Diamond Back tires.
As for the inside the dashboard is truly a work to behold. Made from the original ‘40 Ford and ‘40 and ‘41 Lincoln dashes, the combination of the different elements of the two cars made a balanced, well thought out fascia that is a thing of beauty. The gauges and clock were then restored and updated by Classic Instruments, and look like Edsel Ford put them there himself. Putting the juice to the engine, lights, gauges, and a Pioneer stereo were mastered by hot rodder and builder Bob Belozer of Oregon City, Oregon. Bob is also known for his attention to detail, and used this expertise to help with the final fit and all the little rubs that come up when finishing any car build. Building a custom car like this one is rather like a major manufacturer coming up with a running driving prototype. This stuff was not made to work in harmony, so we have to massage it a bit so it will all get along.
Who would have thought that...
Who would have thought that ‘54 Plymouth taillights would look righteous on a ‘40 Ford? Add the modified ‘47 Pontiac bumper and the smoothed trunklid and you have pure custom. Looking at the ‘40s backside shows how well thought out the final design is. It has the feel of a coach-built car that sets it apart from the “Madding Crowd.”
The upholstery is often left to the last without a lot of pre-preparation. Not the case here. But then, with a build like this, what did you expect? Mickey McVay from Reno, Nevada, made his first trip to Oregon nearly a year before the scheduled time for completion of the car. He stayed right in Donn Lowe’s shop, and spent several weeks making all the necessary pieces needed to support the upholstery. In the meantime, Lowe and Johnson scratch-built the seat for driver comfort and quality of trimming. This way, when the car was painted and nearly finished, he had laid the groundwork for the final fit of the complete interior. Dave Baham of Vancouver, Washington, massaged the body, and painted it with a custom Glasurit mix of Bronz Maroon, which really made the final look jump right out at you. Now it was time again for Mickey to head back up to Oregon with his sewing equipment. Like a year earlier, he stayed in the shop to stitch and install the complete interior. Artistry comes in many forms. And a great stitcher is one who pays attention to many small details, so that when he is done, everything fits perfectly.
Then as it happens so many times, it was a thrash to make the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. Two thousand and eleven happened to highlight customs at the show. Doug, his wife Diane, and a slew of friends were in the right place for a new custom to appear.
Among a room full of trophies the car garnered at numerous shows were The World’s Most Beautiful Custom in Pomona, and Custom D’Elegance at the Sacramento Autorama. Five years and several wheelbarrows full of the green stuff were well worth it when Doug’s design became reality and was sitting on the floor at the GNRS.