It’s that time of year when the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour project is wrapping up another summer of crisscrossing the country, attending events and leading the way on eight participant legs; or as we like to say around the office, “Jerry Dixey and his traveling road show proving once again hot rod parts work—because the man can break an anvil.”

Under the watchful eye of Troy Ladd of Hollywood Hot Rods (HHR) this year’s project was fabricated utilizing Miller Electric Mfg. Co. welding equipment, assembled with Eastwood tools, and a bucket full of stainless fasteners from Totally Stainless. We began with a newly minted ’40 Ford coupe sheetmetal from Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts (DC) with the assembled panels crafted into a finished body by Real Deal Steel. The end result is an entire car (body, fenders, running boards, hood, decklid, and so on). Of course, hot rodders being, well, hot rodders the fresh sheetmetal underwent a number of changes, not the least of which being a top chop. You don’t see many (if any!) ’40 coupes with chopped tops but HHR proved that it could be done “right”, yielding a subtle enhancement to the already beautiful lines that a stock ’40 was “born” with. A number of other sheetmetal changes occurred, such as the cowl vent removal, mods to the floorboard, and rear inner fenderwells, body seams filled, and a firewall makeover to allow for the modern Ford Coyote V-8.

The coupe was then neatly packaged on a Fatman Fabrications chassis that’s outfitted with their narrowed 2-inch polished stainless Mustang II IFS and custom-fabricated sway bar. In back, a Strange Engineering 9-inch rearend is fitted with 3-inch tubes with large axle bearings, and a Strange 9-inch nodular iron “S” case filled with AMSOIL Inc. gear lube and limited-slip additive. Strange also supplied the single-adjustable coilover shocks with Hypercoil springs (fronts rated at 550 pounds, while the rears are 325 pounds).

Whoa and show at the corners falls to the mounted Wilwood Engineering disc brakes and Billet Vintiques wheels with BFGoodrich rubber. The polished 88 series Lakester slugs were specked in front at 17x7 while the rears are 18x9.5 with both ends having a 5-inch backspace and a 4.5-inch bolt circle (Ford). The rubber is the performance-based BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S with the fronts measuring 225/45ZR17 (25 inches tall) and the rears measure 275/40ZR18 (27 inches tall). Steering comes by way of Flaming River power rack-and-pinion (AMSOIL Inc. steering fluid) that’s narrowed 2 inches across the mainshaft.

Nestled between the Fatman framerails is the latest and most potent Ford Racing Performance powerplant in the Coyote V-8 with its 412-plus horsepower and 400-plus lb-ft of torque. (Notice we write “plus” as it’s truly amazing what this engine can do in factory trim with a little tweaking.) Bolted to the Coyote is an enhanced Gearstar 4R70W, a wide-ratio four-speed automatic and torque converter (HGM Automotive Electronics controller) both filled with AMSOIL Inc. tranny fluid. When it comes time to shift the Gearstar it’s run through its gears via a Twist Machine paddle shifter or the Lokar Performance floor-mounted Nostalgia shifter. The Flaming River mahogany and chrome three-spoke steering wheel (13.8 inch diameter) with chrome beauty ring and horn button fits neatly over the paddles. Continuing the Coyote power rearward is a Dynotech Engineering Service driveshaft linked to the Strange 9-inch rearend equipped with Trac-Lok limited-slip 3.70 gears and 31-spline axles. Other rear suspension appointments include a special tubular sway bar built for Fatman and RideTech swivel PosiLinks. (A 2-inch narrowed tubular sway bar was also made for the Fatman IFS.)

All of this power and handling ability at some point needs to come to a halt and that’s where we look to a Wilwood brake system that begins with an under floorboard mounted Wilwood 1-inch bore master cylinder filled to the rim with AMSOIL Inc. brake fluid. The gripping components are made up of 13-inch drilled-and-slotted front and rear rotors along with a set of six-piston calipers. (The rear disc brakes are also equipped with parking brake mechanics.) The front hubs, rotors, and calipers surround a pair of Wilwood 2-inch dropped spindles.

Back on the subject of power the Ford Racing Performance Coyote V-8 is found in the ’11-12 Mustang GT and is based on 302 inches (5.0 liters) that features Mahle hard-anodized and forged 11:1 pistons with low-friction Graphal coating and connected via Manley H-beam rods utilizing ARP bolts and Boss 302 rod bearings. A large rear sump oil pan (ideal for street rods) holds 8 quarts of AMSOIL Inc. synthetic engine oil. The heads feature four-valve-per-cylinder with roller-finger followers.

Being true hot rodders we couldn’t leave well enough alone. HHR’s Ladd has enjoyed a good deal of success with the Coyote V-8 and it’s through his expertise that our Coyote runs an Inglese Eight Stack Induction System modified to fit by HHR with a FAST XFI 2.0 computer. The fuel delivery is handled by an Aeromotive system (pump, filter, regulator, lines, and so on) that draws from the stock positioned Yogi’s gas tank. A custom-designed computer program was used to facilitate the fact that Ladd pressed into service COMP Cams lockout plates, setting the intake at 123 degrees and the exhaust at 108 degrees. The coupe managed 362 hp at 6,500 rpm at the rear wheels through the Gearstar automatic. (Additional pulls to 7,200 rpm showed the power curve continued to climb. Knowing our mullet-wearing Dixey would be driving the potent coupe it was thought best to dial back the power and lock it in at 6,500 rpm.) Since we are at the “rear wheels”, notice in the images that the exhaust tips dump directly in front of the Billet Vintiques wheels. The exhaust system is based on Patriot headers, VaraFlow mufflers, and combination of bends, pipe, and connectors that allows home rodders the opportunity to make their own system. The custom valley pan was fabricated at HHR while the stock valve covers feature C. Cook Enterprises aluminum inserts as they too received the nod for the very cool looking velocity stacks and accompanying air cleaners.

All “hot” motors require that a cooling system be matched to the envisioned performance. In the case of the Coyote-powered coupe an aluminum U.S. Radiator filled with AMSOIL Inc. coolant was mounted up front along with a SPAL electric fan. Getting the radiator coolant from the radiator through the engine is the result of the Vintage Air Front Runner serpentine belt system that operates the water and power steering pumps, air conditioning, and compressor. The alternator is mounted via an HHR bracket. (The Front Runner comes with an aluminum compressor cradle and power steering mount, Sanden SD7b10 compressor, compact power steering pump, hard-anodized precision-machined aluminum pulleys, Dayco tensioner and serpentine belt, and stainless steel ARP fasteners. The system is designed to retain the factory alternator and water pump drive.) Along the lines of “keeping one’s cool” we used a Gearstar tranny cooler with its own electric fan, allowing us to mount it under the car and out of the way.

Always one of the most asked questions each year about the Road Tour car is what color is it painted? These cars for as long as we can remember have relied on PPG paints. PPG was again chosen but for the first time it was from their Envirobase paint line, which uses water rather than solvent as the carrying agent for the pigment. (Much kinder to Mother Nature!) The initial bodywork was handled at HHR and then the coupe was moved to Scott Bonowski of Hot Rods & Hobbies (HR&H) for the application and final detail while David Findley at FinishMaster mixed the custom formula. (We also need to thank Intercity Lines for shuttling our project.) The mix utilizes PPG pigments with the final color based on a copper pearl with a hint of Russet Brown; six colors were added to the base copper color. When asked what color the coupe is we like to answer with: “Catch Me If You Can—Copper!” (We couldn’t resist. Go back to the September and October issues for the full story on the paint process. For the formula check with Findley at FinishMaster.) To further accent the exterior color Sherm’s Custom Plating handled much of the chrome, giving the coupe just the right amount of brightwork. Now, all we need to hope for is that Dixey breaks out his supply of Surf City Garage polish and keeps the shine in shiny on the fresh paint and chrome.

Today’s hot rods are all about performance underhood and within the framerails but there’s another area where hot rod performance has excelled and that’s in creature comforts. The interior of many of today’s street rods engage modern ergonomics in keeping with something fresh from Detroit. The Road Tour ’40 was not to be denied its “lap of luxury”. Before final interior appointments were applied, Dynamat was positioned throughout to ensure sound deadening and heat resistance would add to the overall interior comfort. To further enhance the interior Steele Rubber Products (doors, trunk, hood, windows, bumper openings, and weatherstripping) was employed, guaranteeing a sealed cockpit with neither little or no wind noise nor the intrusion of some of nature’s other goodies (rain!).

The “seat of power” literally is built around a Wise Guys Seats & Accessories split back bench complete with adjustable back, foldout arm support, and a pair of 12V power ports with Yogi’s-supplied seatbelts. The Wise Guys selection of padded foam was then covered over in black Naugahyde piped and stitched in copper by Mark Lopez and his staff at Elegance Auto Interiors. Lopez followed the same black and copper theme throughout on the door and kick panels and headliner and also laid down the early BMW black tight-loop carpeting. (The trunk was also similarly finished and is the resting place for the Optima battery linked to the engine compartment via a Painless Performance Products cable and kill switch kit.) The DC stock ’40 dash is accented with Dakota Digital’s award-winning ’40 Ford VHX Series analog instrument panel with a Ford direct-fit instrument cluster that’s equipped with a silver gauge face and blue backlighting.

Beneath the Dakota instrument panel is a Flaming River tilt steering column equipped with Twist Machine paddle shifters and a three-spoke woodgrain accented wheel. Causing a double take is the use of the Lokar Traditional Floor Shifter for the Gearstar automatic; why two shifters and are both in working order? Yes, they both work but the paddle shifters are intended for later use when we hustle our all-performing ’40 to autocross events and try our (and its) hand at performance driving. We mention Lokar and it should also be pointed out that the door handles, e-brake, throttle, and brake pedals are all from their long line of products. Other newsworthy dash accessories include the Vintage Air A/C ducts and control panel for the Gen II Compac heat/cool/defrost system and the stereo hidden inside the glovebox. There’s a Custom Autosound unit from Yogi’s remote control to handle stereo needs without dropping the glovebox door and all of the “good vibrations” were aptly handled by The Art of Sound (next door to Elegance Auto Interiors.) There’s also an ample supply of electrical chores with our coupe, as with any hot rod, so we looked to Painless for one of their 18-circuit fuse centers. Also wired in are the Specialty Power Windows door glass and winshield wipers. (Look closely at the A-pillar door post photo and you will see a blue tag—it’s the VIN plate for our fully legal California Vehicle Code 4750 registered special construction vehicle, making this car 100 percent compliant in all states.)

This was an extensive Road Tour build even as these cars go. To literally begin with fresh metal for a car that heretofore hadn’t been produced in 72 years and then chop the top a shade over an inch along with a great deal more metalwork required sheetmetal expertise and for that we are incredibly thankful to have Troy Ladd and his group of craftsman at HHR to tackle the project. At the time of this writing the car has 10,000-plus miles and is going as strong as it did when it left Burbank and the HHR shop.

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