Tom Medley built his ’40 from the ground up, and it was a driver. We stopped to take this
As just about every rodder on the planet probably knows by now, Tom Medley, creator of Stroker McGurk and one of the patriarchs of our hobby, had a catastrophic garage fire. It destroyed that structure, along with most of its contents, and severely damaged his 1940 Ford coupe.
Fortunately no one was injured in the fire, but the coupe looked to be a write-off, but that was before Randy and Peaches Clark of Hot Rods & Custom Stuff became involved. Since they opened for business in 1989, the Clarks’ operation has become known as one of the premier shops in the country. With 40,000 square feet of floor space and 30 employees, Hot Rods & Custom Stuff can do everything it takes to build a car in-house—their motto is: “We do it all and we do it right!”
Tom’s coupe was simple and traditional and had the perfect stance. Could that be the image
After hauling the ’40 to their facility in Escondido the first task was to determine the extent of the damage. The crew began the dirty job of cleaning out the charred debris from the interior. The body was stripped down to a bare shell and was then removed from the chassis and completely disassembled. With the exception of the hood, which was too far gone to save, all the sheetmetal parts were sandblasted, as was the frame. Any parts deemed usable were set aside, everything else went into a dumpster.
When a car has been in a severe fire the heat causes the sheetmetal to expand and buckle. If it’s hosed down and cooled quickly the warped panels become hardened and difficult to work. Fortunately in Tom’s case the fire retardant used didn’t add to the damage, but every panel on the car was distorted.
After the fire, one of Tom’s first comments to us was, “I’ve always wanted a flamed ’40, I
As was expected after a thorough inspection, the conclusion was that from a cost effectiveness standpoint fixing this body was not feasible, replacing it was the only practical alternative. But then when were hot rodders practical? Fixing Tom’s car was an emotional decision that probably defies logic, but Randy, Peaches, their crew, and a number of those in the business who recognize Tom’s contribution to street rodding decided that rebuilding his car rather than replacing it was a fitting tribute to the man.
A number of major players in the industry have stepped up to help get Stroker back on the road, including Bob Drake, Classic Instruments, Edelbrock, the Jalopy Journal, Meza Automotive Paint, Lizard Skin, and Vintage Air. A special fund-raiser has also been organized. For more information, see Street Corner in the March issue of SRM, or check the following link at www.streetrodderweb.com/medley.