Just the Facts
Owner: Doug Jerger
Here’s what Doug started with. It was a solid enough car, but just not themed the way he w
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.
The seat is a simple bench done in back vinyl with a red stitching by Glenn Kramer of Hot
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.
In the first week the car was at Squeeg’s Kustoms, Doug and his buddy, Jason Wolfswinkel,
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.
Look close, and you’ll see where Doug cut the cowl in front of the posts in order to lay t
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.
Having just bought a louver press and learned how to use it, Doug punched louvers int
The car’s windshield was glued in place when he got it, so it was smashed out and an old w
To solve the previous problem of too many holes cut in the dash, Doug added an aluminum pa
Being that the exterior of the roof was smooth, Doug ordered a blank insert from Walden Speed Shop, which is normally used to fill a stock roof opening. Doug had recently bought a louver machine, so he filled the roof insert with louvers and then riveted the panel in place on the roof. He also ordered a two-piece hood top for the 1934, then added more louvers there. The last bit of new louvers added are found on the decklid, which is actually a louvered panel that is glued to the 'glass lid. One of the biggest changes to the car's exterior appearance was the addition of the Wheel Vintiques 16x4 and 16x7 steelie wheels (wrapped in Firestone 4.00 and 7.50 rubber). You just can't overstate the importance of having the "right" set of wheels and tires on a hot rod—it'll either make it or break it—and these were the perfect addition to complete the specific look of this vehicle.
The artwork Scott Burns hand-painted on the cowl of the car is done so well people think i
Inside the car the dash had been cut full of holes, so Doug used some of the spare aluminum from the shop to fab a new dash, filling it with Classic Instrument gauges. Another little trick was with the car's door hinges. When looking at the car, you notice they're in the right place (in the quarter-panel) but it isn't until you open the door that you see they are attached only to the quarter-panel, and don't swing with the door. They're just for decoration because Doug didn't want to change the hidden hinges that were already in place, so he bought a set of cast brass hinges from Wescott's and added them just for giggles.
The paint on the coupe was in good shape, but not the right color; Doug originally thought suede maroon would be right for the car. Thinking the car was looking more like a lakes racer, he went back to the Internet to research vintage Bonneville race car colors. Most of what he found was in the family of whites, so he decided on a PPG Custard base/clearcoat combination and then sprayed it in Squeeg's on-site booth. Wanting a vintage appearance, the paintjob ended when it rolled out of the booth—no wet-sanding or cutting was done and what little orange peel that was in the finished product was left there. Doug did add some pinstripe to the beltline, and Scott Burns came by to hand paint the Mobilgas logo on the quarter-panels (done so well people think it's a sticker).
The brass door hinges added to the quarter-panel don’t move when the door opens. They’re j
The tunnel ram that was on the car came off in favor of a swap meet find, which was powdercoated before being bolted up with a single 650 carb. Doug also fab'd up an exhaust system made from pieces laying around his shop, and added a powdercoated air cleaner that was also surplus. The MSD ignition that was on the car was left in place, though a Squeeg's Kustoms plug wire separator kit was installed. And though the TH400 trans found in the coupe seemed to work well, Doug took apart the ratcheting shifter and deactivated the lock-out mechanism so it would shift like a standard shifter. About the only other addition was the flat four-spoke steering wheel from SO-CAL Speed Shop in Arizona.
The car was turning out the way they wanted, even though the interior wasn't finished. Finding it fun to drive, Doug was out cruising around Phoenix one evening when another driver suddenly turned in front of him and severely damaging the front end. Back at the shop Doug ordered up a new forged axle from SO-CAL and a set of Lincoln drums, along with another set of hairpins to repair the damage.
Doug got a roof insert panel from Walden Speed Shop, louvered it, and then attached it to
Luckily no one was hurt in the accident, and the silver lining in all of it was the insurance claim ended up financing the car's interior. Doug took the car to Glenn Kramer of Hot Rod Interiors in Glendale, Arizona, and he told him all he wanted was black vinyl with red stitching and black loop carpet. Kramer immediately picked up on the hot rod theme and not only covered everything appropriately, but also added a hidden iPod-based stereo system complete with midrange and subwoofer speakers.
With the car truly finished, Doug decided to take it back out to California, driving the 350 miles in his three-window from his shop to the L.A. Roadsters Father's Day Show and around SoCal. But wherever he takes the car it elicits smiles and nodding approval. Most folks think it's an old steel survivor and even a few who "remember seeing it around" back in the day. But, for Doug Jerger, much of the fun of building this car was, inside of six months, completing the challenge of turning an ugly duckling into a heart-pounding, smoky-burnout, badass swan.
Doug developed his own line of water-based primer that he sells through Squeeg’s Kustoms,
The 454 that was in the car was left in place, though the tunnel ram and over-the-frame ex
"Traffic control change ahead" indeed! Before the car's interior was finished, Doug was ou