Progress defies convention. That’s a pretty obvious sentiment but considering how people often build their cars we often wonder how universal it really is. For all the noise they make about individuality most people express themselves by pretty narrow categories. Most high-modified cars fall into one of three: highly stylized customs, straight-line hot rods, and road-carving sports cars. It’s as if people build their cars to fit in little boxes.
We’d like to think of Andy Barcheck caroming through those little boxes sideways, the front wheels of his 1936 Ford locked in the direction of the slide and the rear tires churning. “I have a road racing, sports car background so I like things kinda low and able to go around corners,” he says. His sedan is, by all definitions, an extension of his interests: a sports car racer at heart, he cut his teeth on the track. A mechanical engineer by training, he knows how to design smartly. It’s also a proof of his abilities: he bought books and took classes to learn how to shape metal into highly unlikely shapes.
The sedan’s body owes its extreme modifications to the car’s track-inspired chassis. He based it upon a stock Ford frame from which he eliminated the stock X-member. He boxed the ’rails and fabricated his own crossmember from 1x2 tubing.
He based the front suspension on a Total Cost Involved crossmember and Heidts tubular stainless control arms. The remainder consists of Aldan Eagle coilover dampers, a manual Flaming River steering rack, and ECI hubs with Corvette 12-inch-diameter rotors. Andy fabricated the brackets that mount the calipers. Dissatisfied with the variety of antiroll bars, he made his own 1-inch-diameter bar. “I’ve been building antiroll bars for 40 years out of a material called Stressproof,” he says.
The rear suspension consists of a stainless Total Cost Involved Engineering four-link with a Panhard rod that Andy mounted low to reduce the rear roll center. Another pair of Aldan Eagle coilover dampers suspends the chassis over a narrowed Ford 9-inch axle. As he did with the front, Andy made his own brackets to mount calipers, this time Camaro pieces. Again, he made his own antiroll bar, this one from 3/4-inch-diameter stock.
Though identifiable as something that Ford built for the ’36 model year, not a single part of the body interchanges with Ford sheetmetal. In no particular order he swapped the cowl for a ’37 and sectioned the body 3-3/8 inches along its entire length. He removed the roof, sliced a 4-1/4-inch-wide vertical strip from the rear quarter-panels, and moved the back of the body forward to close the gap.
Andy put the top back on 1-1/2 inches lower by using a few unorthodox techniques. He chopped the sail panel but not the A-pillars. Instead, he leaned the back to reduce the roof height, a task made even more complicated by having to reshape the cowl. He took the opportunity to shave the cowl vent.
Chopping a top on an angle post car usually requires extending the roof to account for the pillar angle but angling the pillars and shortening the body through the quarters made the top too long. He shortened it, taking most of the length from the door area so he could pitch the B-pillar forward. He also thinned the A-pillars, filled the top with a Volvo roof skin, and made a rear-window frame from two upper ’36 Ford window halves.
“When I first mocked up the car the way I wanted I thought 2-inch spindles would go too low but with stock spindles the geometry wouldn’t be ideal,” Andy says. He achieved the right stance with stock spindles and by lightly channeling the body.
Though he shortened the body, Andy installed the front fenders where Ford put them. Just as Ford did in 1937, he grafted the headlights to them. Only he employed U.S.-spec ’68 Porsche 911/912 buckets. He also opened the wheel arches 3/4 inch to better frame the wheels in their new location.
The seats came from an Acura Integra. The headrests are two of the 38-1/2 ovals that appea
The door panel sculpting that Tony Miller at Stitches Custom Auto Upholstery performed on
The AC III wheels, Team III’s version of the pin-drive wheels Halibrand cast for the Cobra
Shortening the body through the quarters pushed the cowl back, which in turn extended the engine bay. Andy partly compensated for the difference by extending a ’37 hood 1-1/2 inches. He further compensated for the difference by pushing only the base of the grille forward enough to center it over the front axle centerline.
Stock ’36 Ford town sedans end at a rather pinched-off tail. Andy created this design by g
Andy widened the rear fenders by cutting almost entirely around the opening and pitching the top out for tire clearance. He narrowed the running boards 1-1/2 inches in the middle. Andy got even trickier behind the rear fenders: he replaced the uninspiring sedan tail with a shapely coupe/roadster tail pan.
The lightweight engine he chose improves performance in all ways. It’s a Ford SHO, the 60-degree V-6 for which Yamaha designed DOHC cylinder heads. “When (it) first came out in 1989 I thought that was a neat-looking engine,” he says. “Now there are lots of engines with that same kind of look but back then it was pretty distinctive.”
Andy further indulged his sporty-car roots by mating that engine to a BorgWarner World Class T5 transmission, a bit of a task as that particular combination doesn’t exist in nature. Oddly enough Ford bolted a manual transmission behind that basic block for the Aerostar but it used a Mazda-sourced gearbox. So he made a plate to adapt the T5 to it. The transmission spins a 3.7:1 gear on an Eaton-Detroit Truetrac torque-sensing gear carrier. That, in turn, spins 31-spline axle shafts.
Andy dipped back into the German-car pool for the taillights, in this case ’55-61 Volkswag
Andy delivered the body and chassis to Keith Russell at KR Customs in Silverdale, Washington. Russell applied the PPG-formulated BMW Space Gray Metallic on the body and Tucson Red on the grille. Tony Miller at Stitches Custom Auto Upholstery in Bremerton trimmed the cockpit in a combination of solid gray vinyl and perforated gray leather. Barcheck christened the car with another handling-inspired feature: Team III AC III wheels cast in the image of the pin-drive wheels that Ted Halibrand cast for the Shelby Cobra.
It’s tough to imagine a car with a body modified like a full custom going fast like a hot rod. And it’s almost as much of a stretch to imagine even a hot rod handling as well as a sports car. But handle it does, as it proved recently during an exhibition run on the road course at Pacific Raceways. “I was gridded behind a Corvette Stingray coupe,” he recalls. “That happened a lot when I raced my 240Z. But here I was behind another Stingray coupe. He didn’t get away.”
Andy Barcheck’s sedan differs from most chopped, channeled, and sectioned cars in many ways but none so much as one: intent. Modified to fulfill performance rather than the appearance of it, his sedan truly defies categorization.
Just the Facts
Model: Tudor Sedan
Owner: Andy Barcheck