Just the Facts
Year: 1934
Make: Ford
Model: Three-Window
Owner: Doug Jerger
State: Arizona

Most folks have probably heard the old saying that you "can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear", meaning, of course, there are some things you just can't make better, no matter how hard you try.

But Doug Jerger, owner and chief painter at Squeeg's Kustoms in Chandler, Arizona, probably prefers the old fairy tale "The Ugly Duckling", where an unattractive barnyard bird transforms itself into a beautiful swan.

Either way, Doug has a good eye for hot rods, and his shop has built a string of exemplary rods in the past five years, including some magazine cover cars as well as a winner of the prestigious America's Most Beautiful Roadster award in 2011. But Doug's talents also lie in other areas, too, and one of them is to find good-looking hot rods where others have not. It isn't so much that he's located a secret stash of pristine, virgin metal waiting to be hopped up, but rather he's found them right under everyone's noses.

While some people wouldn't give what most would consider an ugly car their time of day, Doug has learned to look past what is on the surface to what is underneath, and worked with the sub-structure to create a whole new (and desirable) hot rod.

When you think about it, what are the basics of a great hot rod? A powerful motor? The perfect stance? A certain attitude? All those things come into play, but Doug discovered if all those factors aren't immediately present in a potential candidate, then they readily can be, which is where his expertise and good eye comes back into the picture.

Everyone can spot the things that make a car appear it was built in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. A gas tank made from an old Coors beer keg? Straight outta the 1970s. No door handles or hood louvers plus a mono-chromatic paintjob? You can hear the 1980s calling on your brick-sized cell phone. Gray tweed interiors with peach-colored heartbeat graphics down the beltline of your Gumby-green pride and joy? Then you can probably also remember the first Bush presidency pretty well.

No doubt over the decades there have been thousands of hot rods built, and most of them from the last few decades of the 20th century are still around in their original appearance. But all of the items that can tie a car to a certain era can be changed easily so they, in effect, can become born again in a new (and certainly more desirable) form.

That's what Squeeg's was able to do with, by anyone's account, an outdated hot rod Doug found in California one day while looking around on Craigslist. But Doug saw the good in what was there: a running 454 motor and a desirable body type to start with. So he and his buddy, Jason Wolfswinkel, picked up the project and started on the car's deconstruction.

The concept was to build a hot rod in the truest sense of the words—not a lot of frills or creature comforts—the type of car that both terrifies and attracts little boys standing on the corner holding their father's hand when it rumbles by. Something primal. But the other side of the coin was it needed to be able to be done on the cheap so no one had to worry about the overall cash layout and, instead, just enjoy driving it.

The first week was spent tearing all the unwanted stuff off. The flamed tweed interior (and headliner) came out, and the flamed valve covers came off. What was salvageable ended up being taken to the swap meet and sold to finance more parts, some of which were from the same swap meets.

In the second week they decided to cut the roof. The coupe, made from fiberglass, already had a small chop performed "at the factory" but in order to get the car to look a bit more evil, a couple more inches had to come out. Both the windshield and rear window had been glued in, so Jason got the hammer out and smashed all of the glass out. Since the "factory" roofline already took into account the need to stretch the roof for a chop, all Doug had to do was lean the posts back a little more to get the desired profile.