If you were to describe a car as "looking like a rotten banana" then you might not be inclined to purchase it, let alone make it into a hot rod. But Bill Kilkeary can see things differently. And though he did use the banana analogy to graphically and accurately describe his latest acquisition (a pale yellow '40 with brown and paisley velour interior), he was able to look beyond what was in front of him and visualize what it could be.
The power bucket seats are out of an Infiniti and re-covered in leather and suede by Smith
A few years ago, Bill was trying to purchase an L79 Chevy II, but the seller died unexpectedly. His estate included 100 or so cars, and Bill was able to purchase the Chevy II, a Camaro body, as well as a '40 Ford. Built as a street rod in the '70s with a factory frame, original axle, and an 8-inch rear, what drew Bill to the '40 was it was exceptionally rust free and, considering where he lives (in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania), that was a rare and highly prized attribute.
At 66 years old, Bill is no stranger to fixing up cars, as he opened Kilkeary's Auto Body in 1981 after working as a welder and moonlighting as a bodyman for years before that. The repair shop is manufacturer-certified for Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and others, and Bill would bring his sons, Tim and Keith, to work with him, instructing them in the "right way" to do bodywork and paint.
But staying busy with their shop meant they didn't have time to do the necessary work to get the '40 on the road, so they took it to another business in Pittsburgh. That experience turned out poorly, and Bill began thinking it would be best to just sell the project as-is, but Tim had another idea. He hired a couple of workers, bought all the right equipment needed, and opened Customs by Kilkeary, a shop devoted to high-quality fabrication and rod building.
There is a lot of nickel and brushed finishes found both inside and out with Bill's coupe.
More of SS Hydrocoatings' woodgraining was applied to the dash in the '40, which also hous
Kilkeary builds 'em to drive 'em and, to accomplish that, a '93 LT1 is found underhood. Tr
The first project was the '40, and it started from the ground up. A frame from Total Cost Involved Engineering was ordered, as was a Currie 9-inch posi rear (3.70:1). The front suspension was dialed in with a Mustang II setup with lowered spindles with adjustable coilover shocks, while the rear used modified leaf springs and 2.5-inch lowering blocks. A front and rear antiroll bar from Total Cost Involved Engineering went in, as did a power rack-and-pinion. Each corner received Wilwood four-piston calipers and disc brakes (13-inch in the front, 12-inch in the rear) as well as Schott F10 wheels (18x8 and 20x8.5) shod in Pirelli P Zero hides (245/35ZR18 and 255/40ZR20).
The centersection of the frame was also altered to accommodate the engine, which had to be moved back to clear the Ron Davis radiator/shroud cooling system (that uses a Lincoln Mark VI 15-inch electric fan), but also for the T56 six-speed manual transmission. Kilkeary's also modified a stock '93 Camaro slave cylinder to fit the Total Cost Involved Engineering chassis and the stock Camaro bellhousing. They installed a '93 LT1 engine set up with a 10:1 compression ratio and a COMP Cams camshaft. Ported and polished heads from Arizona Speed and Marine were equipped with Manley stainless steel valves, COMP Cams guideplates and springs, as well as 1.6:1 roller rockers.
Schott F10 18- and 20-inch rollers are wrapped in Pirelli P Zero rubber, and the woodgrain
A Lingenfelter ported and polished intake manifold works with the Trick Flow 30-pound injectors that have been tuned to the OEM computer. E.J. Talik (from Kilkeary's) fabricated the air cleaner and also created the engine's exhaust system, which starts as a 2.5-inch dual system that flows into a 3-inch single with Flowmaster 40-series mufflers.
Though void of rust in the body and fenders, Kilkeary's decided to replace the floor and firewall, plus custom fabricate inner fender panels, an underhood panel, and a new trans tunnel. The inner rear fender area was modified to accept the big 20-inch wheels, but you hardly notice the additional width. After Kilkeary's created a new underdash piece, bodywork was completed and a painstaking attention to door gaps and other details was addressed by Kevin Jobe who blocked the car out before Keith Kilkeary sprayed the parts with Glasurit 90 Line waterborne paint.
With the gloss applied, many of the exterior parts (grille, trunk handle, side trim) that had been finished in brushed nickel were refitted to the car, including the bumpers, which were brought in tight to body with the help of custom brackets. Inside the car Kilkeary's had SS Hydrocoatings (Monongahela, Pennsylvania) apply their unique woodgraining appliqué to the door tops and dash. From there, one-off gauges from Classic Instruments were installed (linked electronically with a wiring kit from Painless Wiring) as was a 6.2-inch touch-screen stereo head unit from Clarion, which mounts in the custom underdash panel. Other stereo gear includes a JL Audio amplifier and speakers, all wired by Steve Barrett, who also was instrumental in the final assembly on the car. Finishing off the dash is a Billet Specialties steering wheel that was bolted to an ididit tilt column.
After Kilkeary's EJ Talik fabbed the panels used in the trunk area and interior, Kevin at Smith's Custom Seats in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, covered them before stitching up the power bucket seats from an Infiniti with a leather and Alcantera suede combination.
As it happens with some projects, this one snowballed and ended up being a substantial investment for the Kilkeary clan, but it also turned out to be a perfect advertisement for the level of expertise they can bring to a project. Tim and his dad spend a lot of time at Goodguys shows and swap meets, and they have eight other cars they say rival Bill's '40. Nonetheless, when the '40 drove into last year's NSRA Nationals in Louisville, it rolled out with a STREET RODDER Top 100 award as well as a Builder's Choice award. The photographs taken for the magazine article were done in the first few hours of its reborn life, but Tim assures us either he or his dad will be burning down the tires on this one very soon, as the time to drive it has arrived!
Just the Facts
Owner: Bill Kilkeary
No chop needed: the '40 Ford already has perfect lines. All of the exterior metal parts ar
LED lighting is used throughout the car, and the Truck-Lite headlights are high-output LED
Bill Kilkeary's '40 was built to be driven, and it sounds as good as it looks at speed.