You would have to be pretty new to the wide world of street rodding and hot rods to not know the name Fred Warren. The 75-year-old lives with his wife, Patty, in (coincidentally) Warren, Ohio, and he owns one of the better collections of award-winning rods in the country. He says he “only owns eight hot rods”, but those eight would include two AMBR-winning roadsters (the “Smoothster”—the winner from 1995, and “Shockwave”, the 1999 winner), one Ridler winner (the blue “Aero Coupe” from 1994), a pair of Marcel-built Murocs (one roadster and one with fenders), a Ridler contender (the “Aftershock” coupe), plus a couple of others.
Not only a patron of rod builders, Warren also works on and helps build his cars, fabricates parts, and does exquisite wiring jobs on his rides. But he’s the first to admit there is one thing he doesn’t do, and that’s bend metal. He leaves that to the experts, which is why in 2010 he was happy to find Bobby Walden’s booth at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. Warren knew of Walden’s metalwork on George Poteet’s “Snyper” project back in 1997, and thought Walden was still living/working in Texas.
Though the two had never met before the 2010 GNRS, Warren introduced himself, liked what Walden had to say, and asked him if he would scratch-build a coupe for him. The two discussed what it would look like, and Walden suggested Warren contact illustrator Jimmy Smith to get his ideas down on paper. Warren called Smith, and the two talked for about an hour and a half. In a few days a drawing arrived and, after Warren looked at it and saw it had everything he and Smith talked about, he said “That’s it! We’re gonna build that car!”
The team at Walden’s Speed Shop (Walden, Wesley Kent, Blake Tomlinson, and Matt Bryant) in Pomona started with a stack of 4x8 sheets of 19-gauge steel and, a year-and-a-half later, rolled a pristine one-off coupe out of their shop that combines design aspects from both 1932 and 1933 three-window Fords. Expressing how he feels about his coupe, Warren says it’s “better than anything he’s got”, and that’s really sayin’ something! This month’s article will cover the car from its beginning up until the first time Walden’s was able to set it on the ground with all of its drivetrain in place. Next month’s article will carry on from that point, and you’ll get to see the finished project, inside and out.