If you've ever taken a cross-country car trip, you know how the memories can last a lifetime even if you took the trip in a beater '62 Falcon. But just imagine making the drive in a brand-new, professionally-built street rod and earning income for doing it. More than that, imagine driving not just a one-way or return trip, but driving a 'round-the-nation trip that takes all summer and includes every major street rod meet! Maybe then you could begin to picture the memories that Jerry Dixey, STREET RODDER magazine's annual Road Tour pilot, piled up. As if we didn't have enough envy on our plates, he makes the drive every year in a fresh street rod and this year's choice is both a runner and a stunner.

This year's Road Tour '33 started as a Pete & Jake's chassis fitted with one of their trademarked four-bar rear suspension systems. Heidt's Hot Rod Shop supplied a Superide IFS system, Drivetrain Specialists outfitted the rearend with one of their Ford 9-inch assemblies, and Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation equipped the chassis with, well...you can guess. A Ford Racing Performance Parts port-injected 302 crate motor links to a TCI-prepped Ford automatic overdrive (AOD) transmission for power.

As beautiful and functional as it is, you'll more than likely notice the all-steel-reinforced Wescott's Auto Restyling fiberglass body and fenders. Marcel DeLey and sons at Custom Metal Shaping pitched in with one of their exquisitely fitted aluminum hoods to complement the roadster body.

Many are the rodders who have lusted for an open-top Ford Model 40 ('33-34) like this. Thanks to Edsel Ford's cosmopolitan influence, it may be the prettiest body style ol' Henry ever made. Thanks to Wescott's 2-inch chopped windshield, the right wheels and tires, and the right "stance," it only gets better.

It can be a challenge to assemble a top-notch rod under the pressure of publication deadlines and with magazine types hanging about at all hours to make you stop for photos. For this occasion, STREET RODDER chose the Road Tour car's ringmaster wisely: Barry White's Street Rod Repair Company. An award-winning builder on the street rod scene for more than 20 years (no Barry, we're not trying to make you sound old, just experienced), Barry had the temperament to take the logistics and pressing schedule in stride. He also has a talented staff, from which he picked young gun Chad Vogele (that last name should sound familiar). STREET RODDER Tech Center manager Dominic Conti assisted the project.

Pete & Jake's fabricated the chassis from American Stamping Company rails. They started by boxing the rails from front to rear and by pairing one of their four-bar rear crossmembers with a Heidt's Hot Rod Shop Superide front crossmember. The Pete & Jake's round-tubing center X-member mounts the transmission with a dropout centersection for easy transmission removal. The X-member also has mounts for both the Lokar brake pedal and the Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. power booster and dual-chamber master cylinder.

Drive Train Specialists assembled a 9-inch Ford rearend specifically for this car literally from scratch. They used an all-new steel housing, axle tubes, and high-strength, 31-spline axles. The smooth, round-backed, and TIG-welded housing will be easy to paint and detail. About the only Ford part in the mix is the 3.50:1-geared pumpkin. Drivetrain Specialists finished off the housing with Pete & Jake's-supplied brackets.

The DTS-assembled housing mates to the Pete & Jake's chassis via one of Pete & Jake's trademarked four-bar systems. An adjustable Panhard rod spans the left framerail to a bracket on the Ford differential's right side. The aluminum Viper coilover shocks suspend the chassis from the frame's rear crossmember to the rearend's lower brackets.

Chassis assembly started with the Heidt's independent front suspension. The polished stainless upper and lower control arms mate to Aldan billet coilover shocks and stainless spindles. The Borgeson Universal Company power rack-and-pinion steering bolts to the crossmember's rear before connecting to the steering arms. This suspension uses an antiroll bar for chassis tuning and improved cornering stability. At this point, the process of installing the Borgeson steering universal joints and shafts was begun, but you'll see the finished steering shaft arrangement in part two after the body is installed.

Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation supplied the front and rear disc brakes. They outfitted the system with their new Elite-series billet street rod calipers on mounting discs they designed to fit the Heidt's spindles. Stainless Steel Brakes machined the rotors with spiral grooves and plated them for protection. Stainless Steel Brakes kept the whole brake system in the family by supplying a 7-inch-diameter power brake booster and dual-circuit master cylinder. An access hole in the floor under the driver's seat provides access to the master cylinder.

Once the chassis reached this point, the SRRC crew plumbed the brake lines and built an exhaust system from the Hedman headers back. They used Hedman oval mufflers for a combination of good sound and better ground clearance.

In order to keep up with, or out of the way of, over-the-road rigs, Jerry needs smooth, reliable power. He certainly won't be disappointed this time around. Ford Racing's 302 boasts a number of top-shelf goodies, including a factory roller cam, 9:1 compression, and Cobra-series electronic fuel injection. The injected induction provides a combination of power, economy, and a fuel system that's not sensitive to altitude changes.

TCI Automotive massaged a Ford AOD gearbox to back the powerplant. They equipped the trans, dubbed the Streetfighter, with an equally tough-sounding Saturday Night Special converter. Like the engine, the converter is a best-of-both-worlds piece; it has improved stall speed for greater performance, but retains the factory lock-up function for solid fuel economy and reduced wear. The AOD's 0.67:1 overdrive ratio works out perfect for those long hauls when the next fuel station's location remains an unknown. Not just that, the resultant lower engine speed means Jerry can hear that Custom Autosound stereo all the better!

Once we had the chassis as a roller with drivetrain, we were excited to install all the...but we're getting ahead of ourselves. You can imagine it's not easy to put all the work involved in a complete street rod build up in a few installments, but there'll be a lot more cool and interesting stuff on the Road Tour '33 in part two!