A garage-kept three-window, questions about Grabowski’s T-bucket, finding the right Juggers car club, and more.
My “garage find” is a ’33 Ford three-window coupe. It hadn’t been out of the previous owner’s garage during the past 41 years. The car has never had rust or even a door ding. It’s been garage-kept its entire life. The previous owner, Ken Penley (of the Asheville, North Carolina, area), purchased the car from the second owner in 1970. I’m including a photo of Ken, snapped on the day he was buying the car.
About nine years ago, my good friend Donnie Smart told me about this incredible coupe, and suggested I give Mr. Penley a call. I made an appointment to see the car and was floored by its condition. But I figured that buying it would be out of my range of possibility. Over these past years, I’d periodically call and chat with Mr. Penley. Each time, I’d gently inquire about the car. A few months ago, he told me his health was failing and he was considering selling me the car. It took him a few weeks to become accustomed to the idea, but he finally told me, “We have a deal.”
Since Ken knew both the original owner and the second owner, I told him that by selling the car to me, I would also introduce him to the car’s fifth and sixth owners, my son-in-law and grandson. He thought that was pretty cool. On the day I took delivery, my grandson, Nathan, accompanied me and my neighbor. Nathan is shown steering the car as we pushed it out of the garage for the first time in 41 years. After we had the car loaded onto the trailer, Nathan told Mr. Penley, “This car will never be sold out of this family.” Yes, Nathan is an old-car fan.
Mr. Penley was 14 years old in 1956 when the original owner sold the car. He loved the car, but buying it was out of the question for him. He met the second owner and told him that he hoped to buy the car from him one day. By 1970, Mr. Penley had finished school and his military service. He heard the car was finally up for sale, for $1,000. He obtained the funds and went to make the purchase. He was told that famed NASCAR chassis builder Banjo Matthews was trying to negotiate a lower selling price ($700). Mr. Penley gladly paid the seller’s $1,000 price.
The original owner swapped the grille and hood out in favor of ’34 versions. The second owner allowed the original engine to freeze and cracked the block. So the original engine had already been replaced with a ’48 flathead by the time Mr. Penley purchased the car. It’s unclear who had the car converted to hydraulic brakes (’40 Ford), but the job was done without butchering the framerails. Mr. Penley said that all of the car’s owners have loved and cared for it, and that it was always garage-kept, since new. I vowed to continue that tradition. Mr. Penley said he had only one request for the car’s future: Don’t chop the top! I told him nothing could be further from my mind.
My plans are to do mechanical repairs, update the electrical system to 12 volts, update the lighting to make it brighter, add turn signals, and lower the nose with a dropped axle and reversed-eye spring. I picture the car with wheels that match my five-window project, which has magnesium big window Halibrands on the rear and kidney bean versions on the front.