Most car projects take longer than you expect and nearly always cost more in the end, too. Even using the old adage “multiply what you think it will cost or take in time by three” can get you somewhat of a reasonable working schedule and budget together, but not always.
Don’t let the simplicity fool you. A ’99 Chevy 502 is made up of a Chevrolet Performance l
Scott and Cheryl VanSteenwyk live in Rossmoor, California (just southeast of Los Angeles), and have been working on their black 1933 Ford sedan for almost 15 years. It’s been a long process for them because, as it often does, life gets in the way. Raising children and surviving what life throws at you takes precedent over the cars in the garage but, when the time is right, it’s great when you can finally get a project done.
Now 51, Scott remembers being about 10 years old when he started doing some of the repairs on the family cars. His family had moved from the Midwest to California in 1965, and by the time he was in fifth or sixth grade, one of his dad’s friends had started working on a ’33 Ford three-window, which got him hooked on the Ford’s Model 40 body style.
When looking through Hemmings Motor News one day, he spotted a ’34 sedan outside of Tucson, Arizona, and went to check it out. Though the firewall was cut up pretty badly (someone had used an arc welder to fill the holes) and there was an 1/8-inch plate welded to the backside of the dash, it wasn’t too far gone. It was on a rolling chassis, but without a motor, trans, or steering. Undeterred, Scott brought it home.
The roof of the original steel body was chopped 2 inches and the top filled. Another custo
To get the project rolling, Scott contacted Geoff Mitford-Taylor of GMT Metalworks in Huntington Beach. Mitford-Taylor had previously spent a few years working at Dan Fink Metalworks, and was well known in the SoCal region as an accomplished metalman himself.
Mitford-Taylor, along with coworkers Steve Morrow and Brett Mabray, got the ball rolling and, by 2005, got the car into a raw metal but driveable state. To get all the kinks worked out before paint and final construction, Scott drove his ’33 around for three years while he thought about what he liked and what he didn’t.
Unfortunately during that time, GMT decided to shut its doors and move to New Zealand (opening up GMT Hot Rod Parts in Napier on the coast of North Island). But luckily for Scott that’s when Aaron Broughton came into the picture. Scott had met Broughton when he was working for Mitford-Taylor during the time when Scott was out tooling around in his raw car. Broughton hadn’t worked on the ’33, but he was familiar with it and, after GMT closed, Broughton opened his own shop, Foothill Fabrication in Corona, California. Scott was comfortable with having Broughton and his team (Scott Howard, Matt Bryant, and Rex Williams), as well as Ryan Reed, oversee the final construction, paint, and assembly on the car, and soon that work began.
On either side of the brass Mattson triple-flow radiators are elliptical-shaped recovery t
The ’33 sits on a FoMoCo frame that GMT step-boxed, bobbed in the front and rear, narrowed and raised the rear, and added double X-members. Out back a Currie 9-inch (equipped with Mark Williams axles) with fully adjustable stainless steel four-link and Bilstein coilover shocks went in, and Foothill Fabrication simplified the look of it by shaving the logo off the aluminum rearend housing. Up front a stainless steel independent suspension from Rods by Reid (Tauranga, New Zealand) was then installed along with a Dodge Omni power rack-and-pinion. GMT also made the 25-gallon gas tank, and each corner received Wilwood disc brakes (11-inch with Line-Loc in the front, 13-inchers out back) and 15-inch Real Wheels (5.5-inch fore, 10-inch aft) shod in Hoosier rubber (25x7.5 and 29x12.5).
You have to fill up the fenders if you want a real hot rod look, and 15x10 Real Wheels wra
GMT also performed most of the metal fabrication done on Scott’s ride, which includes the 2-inch chop and filling the roof (thinning it out over the windshield area). The center door hinges were removed, and both the rear fenders and apron were shortened. GMT also added tubs for the wider wheels, and added a section of metal to the front fenders so they may be bolted together forward of the peak in the Dan Fink stainless steel grille insert. The dash, modified with the lower section from a ’32 Ford, was moved back a 1/2 inch, and a power gas lid door was grafted into the rear corner of the body.
Scott gave Mick Jenkins the call to cover the ride with PPG black paint, and Jenkins (with help from Paco Castel) obliged, coating the original Henry steel body and fenders with the inky hue. Foothill also fabbed a graceful-looking nerf bar to guard the grille from possible damage, and created a curved spreader bar for the rear that gently follows the shape of the apron.
The smoothed-off look is accentuated by the one-off rear spreader bar, which follows the g
One of the challenges in the build was stuffing a big-block Chevy into the limited space of a ’33 Ford, but it worked out fine. A ’99 502 long-block came from Chevrolet Performance, to which the owner added COMP Cams roller rockers, an Edelbrock reverse-rotation water pump, and an 850 Holley carb to the GM manifold. A spun aluminum air cleaner (and K&N filter) tops the carb while Mooneyes finned aluminum valve covers help keep the oil inside the motor.
Ignition is supplied by an MSD 6AL system coupled with Taylor wires and a Pro Billet distributor. Cooling is handled by a Mattson brass triple-flow radiator, a 3,000-cfm SPAL electric fan, and a pair of custom elliptical-shape recovery tanks fabbed by GMT. Scott then turned to Rod Sexton for one his custom stainless steel exhaust systems, which included the 1-7/8-inch headers, 2.5-inch exhaust tubing, and the 4x30-inch mufflers. Foothill Fabrication also smoothed out the block and heads before figuring out what the color combination for the engine would be.
Raymond Miller created a custom rear seat and modified some Glide Engineering buckets to c
Mike Hoy, from Torrance Transmission, assembled the 4L80E trans with a Compushift unit from HGM Electronics, a Pro Torque 2,400-rpm stall converter, a heavy-duty second sprag, and a billet forward hub. Shifting will be accomplished with a B&M shifter topped with a Lokar handle.
Foothill also cut and reshaped the Glide Engineering bucket seats so they would fit the owner before the interior of the Tudor was covered in tan leather by Raymond Miller, who also created rear seating of his own design. Controls for the Vintage Air system as well as the Alpine head unit are located in an underdash console, and the Alpine and Crossfire amplifiers and CDT Audio speakers are hidden speakers throughout. A set of Stewart-Warner Wing gauges occupy a SO-CAL engine-turned insert, with wiring linking everything together from Eclipse Engineering’s Steve Sbelgio.
How about a ’32-style dash in a ’33? An engine-turned gauge panel from SO-CAL Speed Shop h
Once everything was done, almost 13 years to the day he bought it, Scott was able to take his finished hot rod down the road, but it took the fabrication skills of GMT, the design and fit ’n’ finish quality from Foothill Fabrication, plus a handful of other artisans to complete the project.
Scott’s 13-year-old son, Zachary, might also be catching the hot rod bug and maybe he and his dad might work on a Hemi-equipped Model A—something Zach can drive to high school once he gets his license! But for now Scott is happy with his ’33, and has taken it to a few Goodguys shows in California (where he happened to win Builder’s Choice and Top 5 awards along the way). But he’s mostly interested in just driving the wheels off of it, commenting “That’s what they’re for, right?” And you just can’t argue with that kind of logic!