Before Paint … AMBR-Winning Roadster
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Traditional Hot Rods Are Still Cool
What You
to Know:
Install a Clutch
Behind an LS
Out Rear
What You Need to Know:
Install a Clutch Behind an LS
Swapping Out Rear Quarter-Panels
Paint at Home: Spray Booths & Other Necessities
April 2022
Preview Issue
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Make It Yours. Make It Lokar. Modern Performance. Classic Style. Endless Options.
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Lecarra Steering Wheels logo
Series Restored by Lokar
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AxiShift logo
selection of steering wheels
Lecarra Steering Wheels logo
selection of driving pedals
Series Restored by Lokar
Modern Rodding CONTENTS
April 2022 Table of Contents article snapshots
Brian Brennan
Industry News
New Products
Those Supporting Our Industry
John Cumpton’s ’29 Ford Roadster
By Brian Brennan, Photography by John Jackson
John Jerger’s ’68 Chevy Camaro
By Joe Greeves, Photography by the Author
Mike Barillaro’s ’32 Ford Highboy
By Tommy Lee Byrd, Photography by the Author
Ken Stek’s ’57 Ford Ranch Wagon
By Brian Brennan, Photography by John Jackson
Len Evans’ ’61 Chevy Bubbletop
By Joe Greeves, Photography by the Author
Connecting an LS Engine to a Manual Transmission
By Ron Ceridono, Photography by Brian Brennan
New Equipment Lets You Paint Like a Pro at Home
By Gerry Burger, Photography by the Author
Before There was Paint
By Brian Brennan, Photography by Ric Woldford/Douglas Photographic Imaging
Reshaping the Wheelwells on a Model A
By Ron Covell, Photography by E.J. Talik
Part 1: This Rare Model A Tudor Phaeton was Built … at Home
By Gerry Burger, Photography by Art Fortin
72nd Annual Grand National Roadster Show
By Brian Brennan
Photography by the Author
On the Cover
The traditional-looking A/V-8 complete with a stroked and bored 272-inch Flathead was neatly put together at Union Speed & Style by Jordan Dickinson and Mike Norrie for Jon Cumpton.
Photography by John Jackson
Hot Rod Industry Alliance logo: 2021 Recipient of the HRIA Business of the Year Award
Modern Rodding April 2022 cover
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Modern Rodding ISSN 2692-2371 (print) ISSN 2692-238X (online) Issue 19 is published monthly by In the Garage Media, 370 E. Orangethorpe Avenue, Placentia, CA 92870-6502. Application to mail at Periodicals prices is pending at Placentia, CA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Modern Rodding, c/o In the Garage Media, 1350 E. Chapman Ave #6550, Fullerton, CA 92834-6550 or email ITGM at Copyright (c) 2022 IN THE GARAGE MEDIA. Printed in the USA. The Modern Rodding trademark is a registered trademark of In The Garage Media.
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Wes Allison, Rodney Bauman, Gerry Burger, Tommy Lee Byrd, Ron Ceridono, Michael Christensen, Ron Covell, Grant Cox, Dominic Damato, John Drummond, Eric Geisert, John Gilbert, Joe Greeves, Ken Gross, John Jackson, Chadly Johnson, Barry Kluczyk, Scotty Lachenauer, Don Lindfors, Ryan Manson, Josh Mishler, Dale Moreau, Todd Ryden, Jason Scudellari, Chris Shelton, Tim Sutton, Chuck Vranas, John Winter — Writers and Photographers

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Printed in the USA.

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Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
A headshot picture of Brian Brennan grinning
Those Were Great Days
By Brian Brennan

n absolute fact. Get two hot rodders together and there will be an abundance of entertaining stories. Over time these yarns would be embellished, accessorized with additional “facts,” and, in general, sound better each and every time they are told.

Another fact. Hot rodders as they age become much better at telling these chronicles. This is generally the result of “enhancements” or not remembering if we have told the accounts or not. Of course our buddy can’t remember either. We remember the hard and fast rule, let him ramble on to see if he has added any additional heretofore misremembered facts. Totally entertaining.

I was telling fellow scribe Gerry Burger how Ron Ceridono is a great storyteller. Most times I’m pretty sure it’s the same anecdotes but Ceridono is so creative that he comes up with “new facts” that give the narrative an air of freshness. This led to a time when Burger and I were talking about summer vacations, remote control TVs, and our first jobs. I know I have told everyone this story, but what the heck I’ll throw in a few new details.

Rodding Around
By Brian Brennan
Hirohata Merc side profile
red gear icon Iconic Custom, Iconic Price

Photography Courtesy of Mecum Auctions

Those of us who have been around the rodding world know full well the significance of the Hirohata Merc. It’s a ’51 Merc Club Coupe that was purchased by Bob Hirohata and taken directly to the Barris Brothers Custom Shop (Sam and George) to be turned into what would become an iconic piece of rodding history. It should, as it is one of just 30 various cars listed on the National Historic Vehicle Register.

Many of us most recently had the opportunity to see the Hirohata Merc while attending the Grand National Roadster Show, literally fresh from the most current Mecum Auction (Kissimmee, Florida) where it sold for a record price to its new owner Beau Boeckmann of Galpin Motors.

As for the price, well that’s a whole other subject. The gavel dropped at $1,950,000 (fees brought the final price to $2,145,000) on the Hirohata Merc (Lot S152). Now that’s a sale price. (Editor’s note: I was on the Mecum stage the last time an iconic hot rod brought big money and that was the McMullen ’32 Ford roadster at approximately $850,000. —B.B.)

Modern Rodding NEW PRODUCTS
By Brian Brennan
JRi Shocks and CNC-machined billet aluminum exhaust hangers
JRi Shocks full view
CNC-machined billet aluminum exhaust hangers close-up and in use
1. Control That Bounce

JRi Shocks has released the latest generation CD5 double-adjustable compression reservoir. The smaller, streamlined design allows the reservoir to fit more easily on the vehicle and incorporates a low- and high-speed adjuster with more than 50 clicks of intuitive adjustment capabilities. The needle-and-jet-style low-speed adjuster controls handling and vehicle body motion (roll and pitch). The high-speed adjuster improves high-frequency/low-amplitude response, which increases tire grip. Two reservoir lengths are available depending on the nitrogen volume requirements.

For more info, check out JRi Shocks by calling (704) 660-8346 or visit
2. Exhausting SubjeCT

Scott’s Hotrods ’N Customs is helping you step up your exhaust system to the next level with their CNC-machined billet aluminum exhaust hangers available to fit 2-1/2- or 3-inch tubing. These hangers are available with a flat or coped mount to fit different applications. Each exhaust hanger features a high-temp silicone bushing for vibration dampening.

For more info, check out Scott’s Hotrods ’N Customs by calling (800) 273-5195 or visit
Modern Rodding

VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 19 • 2022

Modern Rodding FEATURE
Drive ’Em, Don’t Hide ’Em! title
Drive ’Em, Don’t Hide ’Em! title
Jon Cumpton is Beginning to Rack Up the Miles on His Fenderless ’29 Ford Roadster
By Brian BrennanPhotography by John Jackson

here’s no doubting the traditional build style of this ’29 Ford roadster. It’s how Jon Cumpton of Roberts, Wisconsin, went about it, guided by the trained eye of Jordan Dickinson, Mike Norrie, and the staff of Union Speed and Style (US&S) of Osseo, Minnesota. Here’s how to build a traditional-looking A/V8 hot rod yet have it be so like-minded with today’s driving practices.

It was in Jon’s mind that he wanted a postwar hot rod, or what we commonly have come to call a “traditional build.” In his eyes he saw a Model A sedan but a visit to US&S changed that dream. It didn’t take long after eyeing a Model A roadster with Dickinson that the plans changed. The traditional look was paramount but along with this newly minted hot rod it had to be driveable. That would be the result, a driveable, traditional A/V8 hot rod with the looks and performance to keep Jon happy and often behind the wheel.

The ’29 Ford roadster with its minimal channel is a driver that includes a 500-plus mile road trip where Jon and his son, Heart, went from home to Des Moines and back. To this the hot rod has taken home the Goodguys Editor’s Choice and Goodguys Builder’s Choice by Hot Rods by Dean. Over 3,000 miles have been racked up with plenty more to come.

Modern Rodding Tech

1. Our LS3 is equipped with a Lokar LS Classic Series ’63 Chevy–style electronic fuel injection system. The transmission is a TREMEC TKO five-speed from American Powertrain.

1. Our LS3 is equipped with a Lokar LS Classic Series ’63 Chevy–style electronic fuel injection system. The transmission is a TREMEC TKO five-speed from American Powertrain.

Match Making Title
Connecting an LS Engine to a Manual Transmission
By Ron Ceridono Photography by Brian Brennan

hile tradition will always be an important part of hot rodding, the impact of technology cannot be denied. In the same way the Flathead Ford was eclipsed by overhead valve designs, the popularity of the Gen I and Gen II small-block Chevy has lost ground to the LS series of engines (address all hate mail directly to Brian Brennan).

Not exactly the new kid on the block, Chevrolet introduced the LS series in 1997 (and yes that really was 25 years ago). And while some hot rodders would complain when these engines first began to be used that “they don’t look right,” the advantages of the LS were hard to ignore. As a result of their performance, durability, and availability the LS series have become today’s go-to hot rod engine.

Along with the popularity of LS engines has come a renewed interest in hot rods with three pedals. The reasons are simple enough—today’s crop of five- and six-speed manual transmissions offers great gear ratio spreads for performance and overdrive top gears for highway cruising. And, of course, nothing is cooler than going through the gears manually rather than having it done for you automatically. In the example shown here we’re combining a Chevrolet LS3 crate engine with a TREMEC TKO five-speed transmission. We went to Summit and gathered the parts in question.

Modern Rodding Event
The Granddaddy is Back
The 72nd Annual (Well Almost) Grand National Roadster Show Shines Brightly
By Brian Brennan Photography by THE AUTHOR
Every year there’s one award that captures the entire rodding world: The America’s Most Beautiful Roadster and its nearly 10-foot-tall perpetual trophy
 Every year there’s one award that captures the entire rodding world: The America’s Most Beautiful Roadster and its nearly 10-foot-tall perpetual trophy. For 2022, it was awarded to Jeff Breault for his ’34 Chevy roadster, masterfully built by Tim Devlin and the crew at Devlin Rod and Customs.

he 2022 Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) was everything we have come to expect. Many said this just might have been one of the all-time best. Lots of great cars, many historical featured vehicles, the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award, and the Al Slonaker Memorial award both presented by ARP, both featuring a stunning collection of hot rods. In addition, ARP stepped up and presented each winner with a $12,500 check as a reward for a job well done. In the past, Building 4, with the AMBR, had become known as the “main hall.” This year saw the emergence of Building 6, with the Slonaker, as the place to be.

First a bit of recent history. The 2020 Grand National Roadster Show came off without a hitch but that doesn’t mean it was without unrest. Think back and you will realize, at least here in California, this was the last indoor car show for nearly two years. The 2021 show was first postponed, then rescheduled, and then canceled. Even the 2022 show was preceded by a great deal of breath holding. All of us have overcome the “bad old days” as that’s behind us, we all hope, and what lies ahead is a world with many indoor and outdoor car shows to enjoy–like in the good old days. Life in the rodding world is getting on its four wheels once again.

This year’s show featured Rodger Lee of Ironworks Speed & Kustom located in Bakersfield, California, as the Builder of the Year. Ironworks is housed in a 12,500-square-foot facility that is filled with 17 craftsmen who work on 10-12 hot rods at a time. Lee tells us that almost 75 percent of their customers are repeat.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
By Joe Greeves Photography by THE AUTHOR

hen it comes to design, the process is universal. Whether it’s a hundred-story skyscraper or this 620hp ’68 Camaro, it begins with a dream that only determination can transform into reality. The masterpiece comes to life when two talented minds involved in the creation of this automotive masterpiece are car builder Tom Argue and automotive enthusiast John Jerger.

Side view of ’68 Camaro
An Omnivore That Eats Anything Around It!

Modern Rodding Tech
Inflation Gone Wild Title
1. Here’s our inflatable spray booth that we purchased from Vevor. It comes with two blowers that must run constantly. One blower inflates the booth while the other circulates air through filtered panels. The neighbors will think it’s a bouncy house for the grandkids.
New Equipment Lets You Paint Like a Pro at Home

By Gerry Burger Photography by THE AUTHOR


aint and bodywork, two of the most important aspects of building a hot rod. While these two words strike fear in the hearts of many, today there are new tools and materials that make the process more doable. Like most things, everything required to do bodywork is available on the Internet. When it came time to do the bodywork and paint on our ’36 Ford phaeton we used Summit Racing brand materials. The reasoning was simple: quality products, fast delivery, and the price is attractive, too. We used all Summit Racing materials, from the body filler to the finish primer. We also used their house brand dry sandpapers, while the finish wet sandpaper was 3M and USC brands. Over the years it has been our experience that using materials from the same manufacturer eliminates compatibility problems. Things that are not yet available via mail order include patience and desire. If you have a supply of those two things, you can produce a high-quality paintjob at home.

We touched on the fabricating, filling, and priming of our panels in previous tech pieces, now it’s time for the glory … we’re going to lay down the color in a basic, non-metallic, single-stage urethane paint. We simply picked the color from the fleet color samples at our local autobody supply store and had them mix up 1-1/2 gallons of the PPG Delfleet Essential Urethane. (The guy behind the counter told us, “You’re gonna love this stuff,” and he wasn’t kidding.)

Modern Rodding FEATURE
All About Attitude
Mike Barillaro’s ’32 Ford is a Race-Inspired Hot Rod With Epic Proportions
By Tommy Lee Byrd Photography by THE AUTHOR

oing back to the earliest days of hot rodding, skilled craftsmen were learning new techniques to make their vehicles long, low, and fast. Sometimes those techniques needed some refining, but hot rodders are still replicating those tricks of the trade more than 60 years later. The ’32 Ford on these pages is an excellent example of a race-inspired hot rod with a mixture of ’50s and ’60s components. But the car’s most impactful features are not based on componentry—it’s all about attitude and that’s not something that can be bought and simply bolted on. Mike Barillaro is responsible for the vision and execution of this build, exemplifying the true spirit of hot rodders from back in the day.

’32 Ford
Modern Rodding TECH
By Brian Brennan Photography by Ric Wolford/Douglas Photographic Imaging
What Makes America’s Most Beautiful Roadster?
Front side view of the Chevy roadster
Side view of Chevy roadster
Before There was Paint

t’s that time of the year when the hot rod world blooms. The rodding year begins with the Grand National Roadster Show and the unveiling of what’s new and truly amazing in our world. Taking home the big prize, literally in the nearly 10-foot-tall trophy, was Jeff Breault of Wichita, Kansas. Under the discerning eye of the Devlin Rod and Customs crew, they built the award-winning ’34 Chevy. From here it was awarded the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) that’s presented by ARP and includes a $12,500 check. If you are like me, and it’s probably best that you aren’t, we all wonder what this amazing roadster must have looked like before the endless fabrication, flawless body- and paintwork, and talented stitchwork was applied. Well, here we go.

In future issues we will be covering the metalwork where we’ll enlist tinman supreme Ron Covell to walk us through the process. From here we’ll cajole our old shop teacher Ron Ceridono (he taught high school auto shop for many years) to look at exactly what was done to make this contemporary V-8 look traditional—all the while maintaining the amazing performance that the LS is known for.

There will be a final feature to present our overall findings that meld into one good-looking roadster. In the meantime, here is a peek “before there was paint” to give you a feel for what it took to make this AMBR winner.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
From the Inside Out
Ken Stek’s ’57 Ford Ranch Wagon Began With the Steering Wheel
By Brian Brennan Photography by John Jackson

n speaking with longtime hot rodder Ken Stek of Ottumwa, Iowa, he tells us he likes to begin his builds from the inside out. He starts with the steering wheel and builds the car around it. Having built many cars over the years this method has proven to work for him. His current ride is this ’57 Ford Ranch Wagon that serves as a daily driver and a calling card for his shop Stek-lo Rodz Shop in Ottumwa.

As is often the case, a project starts in one direction and veers off in another. Ken wanted a daily driver that he and Lisa, his wife, could use on road trips, such as touring the old Route 66. The build itself would be lowkey. Well, that’s the way it started. The wagon was literally found in a farm pasture some 10 miles from Ken’s home.

’57 Ford Ranch Wagon
Modern Rodding FEATURE
High School Sweetheart

Childhood Dream of a ’61 Chevy Bubbletop Becomes Reality

By Joe Greeves Photography by THE AUTHOR

en Evans, from Conyers, Georgia, has been a car guy for as long as he can remember. His latest, this green and white ’61 Chevrolet Impala bubbletop is a sought-after car that has been on his mind for decades. Growing up in an automotive family, he recalls the time at about age 11 when his father purchased a new ’64 Henry J. It was the family car until five years later when Len became the new owner on his 16th birthday. It was the start of a wonderful connection and, as a young driver, he cleaned and polished the car at every opportunity, proud to call it his own.

61 Chevrolet Impala bubbletop

Modern Rodding Tech

Raising the Bar typography

Reshaping the Wheelwells on a Model A

three-quarter back view of Natalie Bolea’s light gray coupe

1. Natalie Bolea’s coupe was seen as a finished feature in the Mar. ’22 issue, now let’s look at the masterful metalwork that brought it to this point while under the eye of E.J. Talik of Craftworks Fabrication.

By Ron Covell Photography by E.J. Talik

hen building a hot rod, selecting the right wheels and tires and achieving the proper stance are crucial. Most often these cars are lowered considerably over stock, and larger-than-stock tires are usually fitted. This often leads to a mismatch between the tire and the fender recess in the body. Many builders simply live with this, but a few take on the considerable task of reshaping the fender recess.

When Craftworks Fabrication took on Natalie Bolea’s Model A coupe (Modern Rodding, Mar. ’22) project, they agreed that this would be a no-holds-barred effort. One of the earliest tasks was to establish the ride height, then do whatever it took to get the rear fender recess to match the curvature of the tire.

As it turns out, it took a lot. The desired location of the reveal was laid out with tape, then new metal was shaped on a bead roller to match the contour. The old reveal was cut out and the new metal was fitted in place. Of course, the recessed area below the reveal had to be made from scratch, and there was rust damage in the quarter-panels that required repair, too.

Modern Rodding In the garage

By Gerry Burger Photography by Art Fortin
Tale of a Tub typography
1. Longtime hot rodder Art Fortin decided he had one last build in him and decided early on it would be a Model A DeLuxe phaeton, done highboy style. The Model A tub would ride on a set of boxed, gennie ’32 ’rails.
By Gerry Burger Photography by Art Fortin
Tale of a Tub typography

Part 1: This Rare Model A Tudor Phaeton was Built the Old-Fashioned Way … At Home


nce upon a time this was the rule rather than the exception: Real hot rods were built at home. Inside a reasonably well-equipped garage, armed with how-to articles from street rod magazines, cars were painstakingly assembled and driven. Hot rod clubs were active and what the owner couldn’t do, club members would jump in with just the right talent. Well, folks, today seeing six-figure (dare we say the occasional seven-figure?) street rods winning awards is somewhat of the new normal, but fear not, the homebuilt hot rod still makes up the majority of the hot rods at most events. We are in no way disparaging the professional-built cars, rather we hold the pro cars up as examples of new trends, techniques, and parts that might find their way into our own backyard projects.

While a lot of tarmac has passed under our collective hot rod rubber, there is still that next, or for some that final, street rod project. Enter Art Fortin, a longtime hot rodder originally from Massachusetts. When a job transfer landed him on the West Coast, he brought along his recently completed, full-fendered Deuce roadster. The year was 1981.

Knowing full well there would be future hot rods to build, his stash of vintage parts was also relocated. Sure enough, over the years another Deuce roadster and a ’35 Ford Woodie would roll out of the Fortin garage.

Modern Rodding logo with dropshadow
Thanks for reading our April 2022 preview issue!