The Art Deco Effect
Pascal Jarrion’s ’31 Ford roadster
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,
THE ART DECO EFFECT
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
THE ART DECO EFFECT
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: https://bit.ly/2xcV6JI