The Art Deco Ef­fect

Pas­cal Jar­rion’s ’31 Ford road­ster

Street Rodder - - Contents -

Highs and lows. Love and hate. As car buffs, we have all ex­pe­ri­enced the Yin and Yang as­so­ci­ated with own­ing a hot rod or cus­tom. Ask Pas­cal “Bugs” Jar­rion; he will re­late. His high was re­ceiv­ing Goodguys’ Kus­tom of the Year award in 2010 with his ’35 Ford. His low was hav­ing that same car stolen shortly af­ter, though it quickly reemerged, thank­fully un­scathed. You might re­mem­ber the ve­hi­cle, a gor­geously penned cus­tom known as Ruby Deluxe, re­worked by the skilled crew at Hol­ly­wood Hot Rods in Burbank, Cal­i­for­nia. Based on a ’35 hump­back sedan, it mor­phed into an el­e­gant three-win­dow coupe, thanks to a chopped top, al­tered Ply­mouth front fend­ers, hand­made rear fend­ers and skirts, et al. In a way, the short and stress­ful dis­ap­pear­ance of the hand­some au­to­mo­bile soured Bugs on the ex­pe­ri­ence of own­ing one of the top-notch cus­tom cars in the world. He thereby de­cided to sell it; his ride ul­ti­mately found a new owner in 2013 through Auc­tions Amer­ica’s highly pub­li­cized event in Burbank.

Yet, Bugs soon got the urge to get in­volved with an­other project. Peo­ple who know the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dent were not sur­prised, be­ing a creative in­di­vid­ual who hap­pens to be a tal­ented artist. While suc­cess­fully play­ing with paint­ing and sculp­ture, he mostly made a name for him­self as a world-renowned tat­too artist. Bugs was born and raised in France, be­fore mov­ing to Lon­don, Eng­land, in 1984 where he lived for two decades. In 2005, he set­tled in Los An­ge­les with his Amer­i­can wife and con­tin­ued re­fin­ing his skills, in­spired by the Art

Deco move­ment, cu­bism, Pi­casso …

His in­ter­est in hot rods and cus­toms even­tu­ally led to the cre­ation of Ruby Deluxe, fol­lowed by the sub­ject of our ar­ti­cle, a ’31 road­ster. Among both ve­hi­cles’ con­stant fea­tures, the most no­tice­able re­main the Art

Deco theme and the name of the shop in­volved in their mak­ing … Hol­ly­wood Hot Rods (HHR). Bugs con­cedes not hav­ing the me­chan­i­cal knowl­edge to build a high-cal­iber project car, though he re­mained heav­ily in­volved in the de­sign and

fab­ri­ca­tion of spe­cific com­po­nents for the coupe and the road­ster.

He found the ideal ally at HHR with Troy Ladd, who knows a thing or two about craft­ing award-win­ning rods and cus­toms. Yet, for his se­cond ma­jor cus­tom­ized ve­hi­cle, Bugs took a dif­fer­ent ap­proach: “I wanted a car that would be more prac­ti­cal and eas­ier to drive than Ruby Deluxe. Thank­fully, Ladd had a par­tially com­pleted ’31 road­ster based on a Brookville body in his shop, his cus­tomer hav­ing lost in­ter­est. I could there­fore buy a bare-metal hot rod,


which al­lowed me to save some time dur­ing the con­struc­tion.”

Bugs had a clear im­age of what he set out to achieve: “The de­sign mixes Art Deco and in­dus­trial el­e­ments, in di­rect re­la­tion with the ’20s ma­chine age. I pur­posely used a va­ri­ety of ma­te­ri­als with patina: cop­per, brass, steel, alu­minum, and bronze.” Bugs was in­deed in­volved in mak­ing spe­cific Art Deco–in­spired com­po­nents. “I typ­i­cally start with a card­board 3-D model; I then use sim­ple tools, such as a drill, saw, and files. It’s a long process, each piece re­quir­ing days sit­ting in front of my garage’s bench.” We owe to him the rearview mir­ror (be­hind the re­pro Hal­lock wind­shield), the base, and the knob for the shifter (which ac­ti­vates the Chevy TH350), the knobs on the dash, and so on … “Troy was amazed by my com­mit­ment to the task, es­pe­cially when he saw the in­tri­cate trunk han­dle; such a piece would have been much eas­ier to make with a CNC ma­chine,” he adds.

More good­ies de­signed and crafted by the owner sprin­kle the cock­pit, such as the steer­ing wheel and dash in­sert that in­te­grates a beau­ti­ful ’51 Oldsmo­bile clus­ter, whilst Ladd made the brass half-dome at each end of the dash. Bugs also drew the cen­ter col­umn, as well as the bench and caramel-col­ored leather up­hol­stery, stitched by Julio Valdez, who in­te­grated ’30s school satchels (found by Bugs dur­ing a trip to France) in the door pan­els.

When it came to the ex­te­rior, he in­sisted on us­ing a ’32 Ford grille, a hot rodder’s fa­vorite; how­ever, he cus­tom­ized it with fine mesh


screens and light­en­ing holes at the bot­tom of the shell—the top of the lat­ter sup­ports an owner-made brass or­na­ment. Other in­ter­est­ing de­tails in­clude the head­lights from a ’28 Buick truck, the fuel filler base con­ceived by Bugs, to­gether with ’32 Elec­tro­line tail­lights; no­tice the Hal­i­brand-style quickchange from Speed­way En­gi­neer­ing un­der the apron.

Mo­ti­va­tion comes cour­tesy of a Chevy 350, topped with an Edel­brock man­i­fold and a trio of Rochester carbs. We dig the over­all fin­ish, with its Cal Cus­tom valve covers, bee­hive oil fil­ter, and Crafty-B air fil­ters with fins added by Bugs, who in­ci­den­tally de­signed the pol­ished head­ers with Ladd. Pas­cal also shaped the two bars con­nect­ing the grille shell to the apron, which houses a pair of Apco gauges.

The V-8 sits on top of HHR’s own ’32 Ford ’rails, with the same shop sup­ply­ing the dropped I-beam guided via split wish­bones. Era-cor­rect

Ford shocks at all cor­ners en­sure de­cent com­fort, while stop­ping power re­lies on ’38 Lin­coln Ze­phyr drums with Wil­son Weld­ing back­ing plates. Cu­ri­ous about the rims? Mea­sur­ing 17x4.5, they came from a ’35 Stude­baker and re­ceived Excelsior rub­ber mea­sur­ing 5.50-17 and 7.00/7.50-17. The pi­lot keeps the front wheels in the right di­rec­tion, thanks to a Sprint Car–style steer­ing box, which con­nects to a one-off drag link set on a Bugs-de­signed stan­chion mix­ing alu­minum and brass.

Dubbed “The Grudge,” the car has been quite the talk since its com­ple­tion, with one gentle­man in­sist­ing on buy­ing it from Bugs, but he isn’t in­ter­ested in let­ting it go. The two en­thu­si­asts there­fore de­cided to col­lab­o­rate on an­other Art Deco– in­spired Model A road­ster. Can’t wait to see the re­sult of their team­work. For the dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence:

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