Just the Facts

Year: 1935
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Phaeton
Owner: Wes Rydell
State: North Dakota

Every now and then life throws us something other than a "high hard one." Such was the case at this year's Grand National Roadster Show and the awarding of the America's Most Beautiful Roadster trophy—all 9-plus feet—to a phaeton, yes a phaeton! (Did you know this year another tier was added to the trophy causing it to "grow" another 4 inches; and it was refurbished by Advanced Plating. It should be noted that the permanent trophy, on exhibit each year as the centerpiece of the GNRS, exhibits each winner's name for generations to see— literally, history in the making.)

Wes Rydell, of Grand Forks, North Dakota, is no stranger to hot rods, or award-winning ones for that matter. In 2002, he won the Detroit Autorama's Ridler award with the "Grand Master" and now he has taken home the 2014 AMBR with "Black Bowtie," the '35 Chevy phaeton you see. (He continued to drive the '35 phaeton as a stocker while turning the '35 Chevy Master into the "Grand Master.") There's a world of difference between the two awards; although each is equally as prestigious, each serves a different goal. Simply put, the AMBR has grown into an award that acknowledges essence over substance while the Ridler acknowledges substance over essence. A play on words, for some maybe, but should you have the good fortune to see each car in its element we believe you would experience one of life's "aha" moments.

In conversation it became apparent Wes wanted to build a hot rod but something more. His '35 Chevy phaeton is clearly that, being a hot rodder who likes to get out on the open roads, and North Dakota has plenty, he wanted something that would give him the roadster experience combined with ergonomic excellence required for a long haul. Did we mention that he had some passenger requirements; Wes wanted to bring along his wife, Vivian, and a few friends. Your basic roadster doesn't do well with a "party of four" but a phaeton does; it's made for foursomes.

Historically we would say "compilation projects," builds that are moved from one to shop to another, don't fare well. Here's the exception to the rule. Wes had driven his '35 Chevy for years as a stocker and had always liked the look and feel of this phaeton. One day the proverbial light bulb went on and it was time to modernize. It began at Foose Design where Chip Foose visualized what the rest of us could only hope to see until he put pencil to paper. Time was spent in Wes' own shop Rydell's Toy Shop and forward motion began but it wasn't until the "miraculous hands" at Marcel's did the phaeton really begin to materialize. As is always the case someone has to take charge and bring a project to fruition and that happened upon arrival at Troy Trepanier's shop, Rad Rides by Troy (RRT). When completed the hot rod rolled out under its own power and onto the carpet at the Pomona Fairplex and into history.

The foundation for this phaeton is based on a pair of Roadster Shop framerails that were modified and lengthened by RRT to accommodate the independent suspension. Moving from rear-to-front we can see a Heidts IRS that's outfitted with a limited-slip differential from Eaton, a Tru-Trac unit that spins 3.50 gears that propels custom halfshafts. Stopping power is supplied by Wilwood through 12-inch rotors while bounce is controlled by RideTech shocks and Hyperco airbags. We see more Heidts in front with an IFS but this was heavily modified by the wrenches at RRT. Entwined into the IFS are 2-inch dropped spindles, power rack-and-pinion steering twisted by an ididit column, 1-inch antiroll bar, RideTech shocks, ABS electric power brakes with Kugel 90-degree swing pedals, and more Wilwood disc brakes.