Readers’ Rides - 1936 Ford five-window rumble seat Deluxe Coupe
By: Web Editor
When you are one of the ’rollin’ blokes’, an exclusive (just seven members) traditional hot rod and custom motorcycle club and a member of the long-established Victory Wheelers car club, you have a pretty good idea of what you like when it comes to American cars.
Membership of the more mainstream Classic American Auto Club of Great Britain might also indicate a more conservative inclination, but don’t let it fool you. Brian Newman is a hot rodder at heart.
Although a classic motorbike enthusiast with a shedful of two-wheeled steeds, you are more likely to see him at summer shows these days in his striking sea-foam green and white 1956 Ford Fairlane two-door Club Sedan or his deceptively stock-looking 1936 Ford five-window coupe. Both are very clean examples and a testament to Brian’s wide interests. He previously had a reproduction Ford Model A five-window coupe with Cortina mechanicals and a healthy 318cu in Mopar engine, but he hankered after a real steel car. It took some hunting, but eventually the 1936 Ford came his way.
Since buying the coupe back in 2007, Brian has carried out a number of subtle modifications, though outwardly it still looks reasonably stock. This is intentional and carries through Brian’s vision of producing a street legal, California-style hot rod that would not have looked out of place on the cover of a late Forties or early Fifties issue of Hot Rod or Hop Up magazines. The distinct ‘rubber rake’ gives the game away, accomplished in part by the fitting of narrow 5.50x16 whitewall tyres on the front axle and similar, but taller and wider 7.50x16 on the rear. The addition of replica 1947 DeSoto ribbed bumpers is a further indication that this is no factory stocker.
The car was imported from Pretoria in South Africa in May 2002. Once in the UK a previous owner arranged to have it resprayed, retrimmed and the original flathead V8 was replaced with a reconditioned 3.6-litre flathead from a Ford Pilot. Although it was running fine when he acquired the car, Brian knew what he wanted to do.
Exhaust headers were fitted, connected to a new stainless steel system. An Offenhauser manifold replaced the stock version, topped by twin Stromberg 97 carbs for a classic hot rod look and some additional performance. The new Mallory distributor he installed was itself modified with Pertronix electronic ignition for reliability.
The suspension Ford fitted to its cars in the Thirties is not renowned for its sophistication, or for providing a particularly comfortable ride. Accordingly, a Posies ‘In Da Dirt’ dropped I-beam axle replaced the original, with a multi-leaf Teflon padded spring and tubular shock absorbers, courtesy of Pete & Jake’s Hot Rod Parts. The closed driveshaft was replaced with a more conventional propshaft so that a modern Chevrolet S10 five-speed gearbox could be fitted. Brian admits that this is not ‘period’, but it is out of sight and does ensure reliability and highway gears.
Another pair of P&J tube shocks was fitted to the rear axle, which retains its original differential gears. The tall rear tyres ensure that motorway speeds are maintainable to the legal limit and beyond. With the extra power on tap, it’s not surprising that Brian replaced the stock rod brakes with a hydraulic system from a 1939 Ford, further aided by a vacuum servo. To further improve the driving experience, Unisteer rack and pinion steering was installed. Plans for the future include the replacement of the brown vinyl interior with something more traditional and maybe the fitting of a Weiand supercharger that Brian has acquired, to provide some more horsepower.
As a result of these gradual improvements Brian finds the Ford comfortable and reliable and he’s not afraid to drive it long distances to attend shows or visit friends. With careful management of the project and not deviating from the car’s timewarp late Forties appearance, he now has a usable classic that can keep up with modern traffic while looking every bit the California hot rod he so desired. Clever guy!
Owner: Brian Newman, Fareham, Hampshire
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