AN UN­CER­TAIN PAST

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Roddin’ Scene -

Find­ing an old, his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant hot rod might seem like a tan­ta­liz­ing prospect at first. How­ever, with such dis­cov­ery comes re­spon­si­bil­ity. The new owner needs to take the ve­hi­cle’s his­tory into con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing the re­ju­ve­na­tion. In other words, it’s of­ten ex­pected that the re­storer will re­turn the car to how it was seen dur­ing a cer­tain pe­riod, look­ing like it did in, say, a spe­cific 1950s mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle. It can be a daunt­ing com­mit­ment.

Lynn Bird did not face such a hur­dle, as his long re­search re­gard­ing this coupe led to noth­ing con­clu­sive, re­ally. Some might have con­sid­ered it a dis­ap­point­ment, but Bird saw the pos­i­tive as­pect of his pur­chase: He was of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate the three­win­dow coupe he al­ways longed for.

These black-and-white pic­tures date from the 1970s. They rep­re­sent the only keep­sakes of the old Ford’s past. “That’s all I could find,” says Bird. “One of my friends, Jim Ham­lin, bought the car in 1977. There was no doubt in his mind that it had been built as a hot rod with a flat­head, back in the 1950s or 1960s.”

The tired yet solid Deuce had some at­tributes of­ten associated with East Coast rods from the era: chan­nel­ing, a sec­tioned grille, and no top chop. Dur­ing the 1980s, that friend de­cided to morph the hulk into a street rod typ­i­cal of the time, so Bird helped him in­stall a 289ci Ford V8, a four-speed Ford trans­mis­sion, a Vega steer­ing box, and a four-link front and rear sus­pen­sion.

“Un­chan­nel­ing” the body proved fairly straight­for­ward, thank­fully, as who­ever did the work had not butchered the floor­pan and frames. The derelict chopped grille was re­placed with a stock-height unit, as seen in the color photo of the project. Un­for­tu­nately, the coupe suf­fered some un­ex­pected dam­age shortly af­ter, in a freak in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the Re­verse gear: The car slammed into Ham­lin’s garage wall, wound­ing both the struc­ture and the ’32’s rear.

This soured him on fin­ish­ing the project; he fi­nally de­cided to sell it to his pal years later, in 2010. Bird spent weeks putting the car back in shape be­fore turn­ing it into the ride you see here. The pic­tures il­lus­trat­ing this side­bar show the long jour­ney made by the Deuce dur­ing the last 40 years, a nice des­tiny for a gen­uine three­win­dow survivor.

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