As the drummer for the West Coast rockabilly band the RevTones, Marcus Edell is used to being in the spotlight. His ’34 Ford has been getting a taste of that kind of attention recently. The metallic blue coupe is familiar to anyone who visited the Suede Palace at the 2012 Grand National Roadster Show, where the early-’60s–flavored hot rod was displayed front and center. It’s also well known on the Hokey Ass Message Board website, where HAMB members watched its start-to-finish progress over the course of a couple years.
When Marcus bought the ’34 Ford 40 DeLuxe coupe from Lee “Vance” Hulick, another HAMB member, the car was a running project with a Chevy small-block, T5 trans, and 8-inch rear. Hulick had already chopped the top 2-1/2 inches, and louvered the decklid. Traces of metallic paint and custom gauge holes in the dash provided hints that the coupe had been a hot rod as early as the ’50s. Marcus’ original intent was to fix what needed to be fixed and flip the car to pay for a project. Instead, the ’34 became that project.
In the truest hot rod tradition, Marcus got lots of help and encouragement, especially from his wife, Samantha, along with fellow HAMB members and a few pro builders here and there.
When Marcus took ownership of the coupe, the stock frame had already been strengthened with an X-member from Pete & Jake’s. Matt Seret at Seret Speed & Custom in Vallejo took it a step further by boxing the ’rails. Marcus sold the frontend, replacing it with a new frontend from Riley Automotive. New hot rod components include a Super Bell dropped I-beam axle and spindles, SO-CAL–covered shocks, hairpins, and Posies Super Slider leafs. Chrome was chosen or added wherever possible to brighten up the front. Kevin Gallagher at Gallagher’s Oil Farm in Napa set up the Flaming River Corvair reversed steering box—in addition to building the decklid inner skin, chopping garnish moldings, modifying the dash, and running the plumbing and wiring. A Ford 8-inch rearend runs a 4.11 gear ratio with a Trac-Lok limited-slip differential. Rear suspension is provided by a set of parallel leaf springs from Posies and Pete & Jake’s shocks.
For power, Marcus had something earlier in mind than a small-block. The Chevy was sold to a fellow HAMB member, replaced by a ’51 Ford 8BA Flathead. Custom Flathead builder Eric Brown at Go Cat Speedshop in Morrison, Colorado, put together a “hogged out” stroker 304ci for the ’34 with a Schneider 0.425-lift full-race cam, Scat crank, and polished aluminum Sharp 59A heads. The block and intake were port-matched; the N.O.S. Weiand intake with quadruple Stromberg 97 carbs is a unique Flathead setup, and is dressed up with Cal Custom–style finned aluminum air cleaners. Go Cat converted the flattie to a full-flow oil system, with a repro Hildebrandt beehive oil filter from O’Brien Truckers. A new Roto-Faze distributor was added and the stock generator was converted to 12 V. With the Flathead perched on Seret Speed & Custom engine mounts, Red’s Headers route the exhaust, capped with 18-inch glasspacks. Dump tubes were installed at Neal’s Mufflers in Castro Valley. The Camaro T5 transmission that had backed up the small-block was tied to the Flathead using an adapter kit from Flat-o Products.
At Altissimo Restorations in Napa, Brandon Penserini and Raymundo Gonzalez continued the bodywork that had already been started on the original ’34 steel. When the body was ready for paint, Marcus chose ’05 Ford Mustang Windveil Blue, similar to a ’59 Cadillac color he likes. Penserini and Gonzalez shot the metallic blue PPG paint. The custom firewall, built by Seret, was covered in contrasting white. Well-known ’striper Herb Martinez added some perfect pinstriping in the low-key style of the late great Tommy the Greek.
Gallagher handled the final assembly. Most of the exterior hardware and components are new parts. Headlights are repros of vintage BLC lights: the taillights are off of a ’58 Impala. The grille, door handles, and gas tank are Bob Drake Reproductions. The front spreader bar and Peep mirror were found on eBay; the rear spreader bar came from Pete & Jake’s. Vintage License Plate Restoration in Fort Worth refreshed Marcus’ original plates. He got the glass from Ron Brooks at Allied Glass in Castro Valley, a fellow club member. High Lustre Chrome Plating in Hayward plated the windshield frame just before our photo shoot.
The coupe’s tires and wheels roll right out of the ’60s. Piecrust Radir M/T cheater slicks are paired with 5-1/2-inch-wide Hurst Super Cushion whitewall radials in front. The 16x8 and 15x4.5 Halibrand “Smoothie” replicas are from Real Rodders. A pair of ’39 Lincoln drums brakes in front and 12-inch Ford rear drums are assisted by a Ford dual-reservoir master cylinder.
On the inside, the coupe keeps the blue and white color combo going with two-tone vinyl, wrapped around the Chrysler mini van bench by Jesus Macias at Super Auto Upholstery. The pattern continues on the door panels, into the trunk, and on the top insert. The Moon 15-inch vinyl steering wheel is mounted on a LimeWorks ’40 Ford column. A ’61 Hurst yo-yo shifter was a great choice. Marcus managed to find a Stewart-Warner Twin Blue tach and gauges, and Classic Instruments built a custom speedometer to match.
The ’34 had been finished for only a few weeks when it made its public debut at the Grand National Roadster Show. Although a lot of people had followed the buildup via photos posted on the HAMB, few had seen it in person before that weekend. At the Suede Palace awards ceremony, Marcus was the last guy called to the stage where, in addition to the Ilegales Car Club pick, he received the award for Best of Show. Since then, he’s picked up the Best Hot Rod prize at the Sacramento Autorama Suede Pavilion, Best Street Rod at the Style Kings Car Club Show, and two awards from the West Coast Kustoms Cruisin’ Nationals.
Shortly after we photographed the ’34, Marcus posted a message on the HAMB announcing the sale of the 8BA engine. By the time you read this, there will be a hopped-up, dressed-up 390ci Cadillac taking the place of that Flathead—and keeping the coupe in the spotlight.