July/August 2020
Preview Issue
July / August 2020
Modern Rodding Tablet of Contents
Volume 1, Issue 1
8 Starting Over
Brian Brennan

10 The Next Chapter
Rob Fortier

12 Parts Department
New Products

16 Brute Force
Building The Ultimate 1955 Chevy … And Then Some
By Eric Geisert

36 The Ultimate Plymouth
Kent Ladner’s 1935 Plymouth PJ Has Come A Long Way In 85 Years
By Brian Brennan
Photography by John Jackson

54 Firecracker
Great Way To Describe Kristina Plumley’s Blown 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster
By Chuck Vranas

74 Rhodium–More Expensive Than Gold
Ryan Gates Unleashes His Pro-Touring First-Gen Camaro As Widebody Perfection
By John Drummond

On The Cover
The 1955 Chevy Bel Air, “Brute Force,” owned by Bob Matranga of Southern California, was one of this year’s Detroit Autorama Great 8 finalists and clearly in the running for the Ridler award, but alas it didn’t win. Still, there can be no denying the level at which this Tri-Five is built. Photography by Eric Geisert
26 Remembering Grandpa’s Ride
We Are Betting That This 1957 Ford Custom Performs A Tad Better Than The One Grandpa Had
By Brian Brennan

42 Stop It!
Speedway Motors’ Kit Is Ideally Suited For Combining Lincoln Large Brakes And Early Ford Spindles
By Eric Geisert

48 Coming Unhinged
Remove Vintage Door Hinge Pins And Never Touch A Hammer
By Gerry Burger

66 Floored!
A Rusty Shell of a 1940 Ford Gets Some Much-Needed Sheetmetal Repair
By Ryan Manson

80 How Hot Is Your Hot Rod?
Basic Tips On Temperature Gauges And Keeping Your Car Cool
By Ron Ceridono

84 Double Up
A CPP Brake Booster Kit Solves Two Problems With One Easy Install
By Tommy Lee Byrd

In The Garage
60 In The Garage: Jeff Norwell
A Hot Rodder, An Artist, And A Canadian … Who Knew!?
By Brian Brennan
The quintessential hot rod is the 1932 Ford highboy roadster. This East Coast version was artfully accomplished by Kristina Plumley, powered by the ubiquitous blown small-block Chevy. Photography by Chuck Vranas















Sarah Gonzales – Copy Editor
Rodney Bauman, Gerry Burger, Tommy Lee Byrd, Ron Ceridono, Michael Christensen, Ron Covell, Grant Cox, John Drummond, Eric Geisert, Joe Greeves, John Jackson, Barry Kluczyk, Scotty Lachenauer, Nick Licata, Ryan Manson, Josh Mishler, Gary Rosier, Chris Shelton, Mike Slade, Jeff Smith, Tim Sutton, Chuck Vranas – Writers and Photographers


Mark Dewey – National Sales Manager
Janeen Kirby – Sales Representative
Patrick Walsh – Sales Representative



Editorial contributions are welcomed but editors recommend that contributors query first. Contribution inquiries should first be emailed to info@inthegaragemedia.com. Do not mail via USPS as we assume no responsibility for loss or damage thereto. IN THE GARAGE MEDIA reserves the right to use material at its discretion, and we reserve the right to edit material to meet our requirements. Upon publication, payment will be made at our current rate, and that said, payment will cover author’s and contributor’s rights of the contribution. Contributors’ act of emailing contribution shall constitute and express warranty that material is original and no infringement on the rights of others.

All rights reserved. Printed in the USA.
Copyright (c) 2020 IN THE GARAGE MEDIA
The Modern Rodding trademark is a registered trademark of In The Garage Media. Modern Rodding. July/August 2020, Vol 1, No 1 is published bi-monthly by In The Garage Media. 1350 E. Chapman Ave. #6650, Fullerton, CA 92834-6550

ISSN 2692-2371


Modern Rodding Starting Over
Brian Brennan LAR '73
Been Here Before
By Brian Brennan


ou do something enough times and it becomes “familiar.” Take off your favorite sweatshirt and you find yourself looking for it. Pretty soon you begin to think about wearing those comfortable Levis when you don’t have them on! Your hot rod is no different. I’ve had my roadster on the road for 14-plus years. During this time, the roadster has assisted me in making countless friends for which I am eternally grateful.

Over the course of time I’ve changed very little on the highboy: a set of wheels and tires and freshened up the brakes. (Although I can’t say the same for myself.) I can tell you every time I drop behind the wheel there’s a certain “feel” and “comfort” that overcomes me. It’s my favorite jeans, sweatshirt, and Barcalounger all rolled into one. There’s no mistaking the bond between myself and my roadster.

The time has come where I find myself putting aside one magazine for another. Let me tell you that the old one (Street Rodder) had a feel I had grown comfortable with and thoroughly enjoyed. When I think back, I can remember sitting in LeRoi “Tex” Smith’s office talking about what it would be like to have a “hot rod” magazine. Those one-on-one conversations would go on for hours and each dream became grander than the one before. Those dreams gave birth to a rodding magazine that was a half a year shy of half a century of service to the hobby and industry many of us grew up with and shared.

Modern Rodding The Next Chapter
Rob Fortier Headshot
On Paper…
And Beyond
By Rob Fortier

ecember 2019 will forever go down in history for many—including myself, without a doubt—as the end of an era … the end of a magazine era as we knew it. But rather than cry over spilled sour milk and write the last chapter, as it were, myself and a few other would-be (should-be) bitter old magazine veterans took the high road to start the next chapter of hot rodding periodicals—print and digitally speaking.

It only took a quarter-century to figure out on behalf of the corporate world where we’d gone wrong all these years, and by eliminating the bureaucratic decision-making factor we had no other option but to go out on our own and once and for all make a magazine the right way—a print magazine AND a digital version … heavy emphasis on the latter.

I’ve been doing this whole magazine thing for literally half of my life—as have my fellow “garage mates.” It’s what we know; it’s what we do. So, when that fateful day in December came and the life we knew virtually came to a halt, the thought of not having the ability to continue that life as we knew it was too much to bear. That is, until we stepped back and remembered where it all began—in the garage—could we truly understand that’s exactly where we needed to be in 2020.

Modern Rodding Parts Department
See You On the Other Side
Routing fuel, brake, and hydraulic clutch lines
Routing fuel, brake, and hydraulic clutch lines is often looked at as a “small and easy” project that can oftentimes have us pulling our hair out. Here’s a viable solution for getting these lines from one side of the frame to the other—via through-the-frame bulkhead fittings.

Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) has produced these bulkhead fittings for a while but they never get old, and now might be the time to get out in the shop and see if you can not only solve a problem but also enhance your hot rod’s look.

These bulkhead-type fittings are designed for use with standard 2-inch-wide framerails and available in three configurations: -3 AN male/-3 AN female, -3 AN male/-3 AN male, and AN-6 male/AN-6 male.

These fittings are manufactured in-house by AME from premium stainless steel material, making these fittings impervious to rust and corrosion.

Classic Instruments Series lineup
Vintage Looks Coupled With Modern Functionality
Classic Instruments Series lineup
Classic Instruments’ Classic Series reminds us of the nostalgic feel of traditional hot rods, while integrating reliability and convenience. The rugged air-core movement and all electronic components provide an instrument with a high level of versatility, quality, and accuracy.

Classic Instruments now offers this series in all-new size offerings of 2-5/8 inches (fuel, oil, temperature, and volt), while the speedo and tach are available in 3-3/8 and 4-5/8 inches. All Classic Series instruments are available as individual instruments or as part of a five- or six-gauge set. The series features polished stainless steel radial bezels, curved glass lenses, nostalgic crescent moon pointers, and rich black dial faces.

Brute Force title
Building the Ultimate 1955 Chevy … and Then Some!
By Eric Geisert | Photography by the author
(Editor’s note: For the extended story and many more photos of this vehicle, read it all at ModernRodding.com.)

Brute Force square logo


he idea started off simple enough for Bob Matranga. “Some people like to play golf; I like to build hot rods,” he says. “I enjoy showing these cars, I enjoy driving these cars, and that’s what’s driven me all my life.” But if building, owning, and driving a hot rod are at one end of the spectrum, then seriously competing in a car show setting for one of the nation’s highest honors in that field is something else.

Brute Force 1955 CHEVY on display
Brute Force title
Building the Ultimate 1955 Chevy … and Then Some!
By Eric Geisert | Photography by the author
(Editor’s note: For the extended story and many more photos of this vehicle, read it all at ModernRodding.com.)

he idea started off simple enough for Bob Matranga. “Some people like to play golf; I like to build hot rods,” he says. “I enjoy showing these cars, I enjoy driving these cars, and that’s what’s driven me all my life.” But if building, owning, and driving a hot rod are at one end of the spectrum, then seriously competing in a car show setting for one of the nation’s highest honors in that field is something else.

Brute Force square logo
Brute Force 1955 CHEVY on display
1955 Chevy both left and right side profiles

When Bob bought a Bel Air project years ago, all he wanted was “a real nice 1955 Chevy” with full independent suspension and a big motor. So, the chassis was sold and the body fitted to a new Art Morrison chassis with a Kugel Komponents IFS/IRS setup.

But Bob’s natural inclination to refine something until it’s “right” eventually led him to the idea that he’d like to compete for the Don Ridler Memorial Award at the Detroit Autorama. Easily one of the highest honors in the customized automotive world, the Ridler “emphasizes creativity, engineering, and quality workmanship. The vehicle that best represents those three areas will win the Ridler Award.” It’s really the ultimate challenge: to be recognized as the best in a group of exceptional vehicles.

Bob had taken his ride to some shops in the SoCal region that couldn’t perform the tasks he wanted—though they happily cashed his checks. Fed up with the lack of service, he formed Matranga Hot Rods, his own personal shop that would focus on the construction of this one automobile.

1957 Ford Custom drifting in the dirt
Remembering Grandpa's Ride typography
We are Betting That This 1957 Ford Custom Performs a Tad Better Than the One Grandpa Had
By Brian Brennan | Photography Courtesy of Roadster Shop


he tale of one car with 2-1/2 stories; one is technical, one is a feature, and the remaining is a bit of human interest. All of us have our reasons for why we build our hot rods the way we do. And, frankly, it doesn’t really matter to anyone other than ourselves why we build, what we build, or how we build it. The goal for all of us is to have fun with cars along the way.

George Poteet (member of the Memphis Street Rods) has pieced together many a project during his transition into “hot rod adulthood.” (I checked, by definition “hot rod adulthood” starts at prepubescence and we never outgrow it.) One of George’s all-time favorite rides is his 1957 Ford Custom two-door sedan that meets his hot rod adulthood goals. He has owned this particular Ford for 20-plus years and it also reminds him of one that his grandfather once owned in the same color. Given this 1957 Ford has lots of miles under its oil pan, George gave it some thought and decided it was time to upgrade. (This isn’t his first one. He had one many years ago fitted with a Ford 427 Cammer motor.) In his mind the current “upgrade” meant from bumper-to-bumper but beneath the patina’d sheetmetal. During the build he threw in a few enhancements readily accessible while driving, thereby yielding the perfect road car.

George tells us, “I really like this car and want to make long trips and cruise around.” We’ve surmised that he likes driving and from what we’ve seen of this 1957 Ford Custom as it continually racks up 10,000 miles a year we would agree. He drives it often and hasn’t hesitated for one “asphalt divot” from jumping in and taking off from the South to the West Coast attending rod runs along the way.

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