Finishing a Larry Watson Tribute T-Bird
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The Forgotten Tri-Five ... ’56 Ford Crown Vic

The Ultimate in Sheetmetal

Cowl Replacement for

’64 Ford Galaxies

Lowering Early Fords:

Easy-to-Install Front Suspension


The Ultimate in Sheetmetal

Cowl Replacement for

’64 Ford Galaxies

Lowering Early Fords:

Easy-to-Install Front Suspension

Part 2: Project ’35 Chevy is Lengthened, Chopped, and Wedge-Sectioned
March 2023
Preview Issue
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Modern Rodding CONTENTS
March 2023 article snapshots
Brian Brennan
Industry News
New Products
Those Supporting Our Industry
Brian Brennan
Joe Gregorio’s ’56 Ford Crown Victoria
By Brian Brennan, Photography by Wes Allison
Donn Lowe’s ’29 Ford Roadster Pickup
By Dale Moreau, Photography by the Author
Dave Wallace’s ’49 Chevy Fleetline
By Brian Brennan, Photography by John Jackson
Steve Harvey’s ’32 Ford Highboy Coupe
By Brian Brennan, Photography by Wes Allison
John Wise’s ’55 Chevy
By Brian Brennan, Photography by Chadly Johnson
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Part 2: ’35 Chevy Coupe Gets Extensive Sheetmetal Work
By Ron Covell, Photography & Videography by Rodger Lee
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How to Lower Your Hot Rod Through Simple Suspension Changes
By “Rotten” Rodney Bauman, Photography by the Author
Our ’64 Ford Galaxie Receives Fresh Upper and Lower Cowl Sheetmetal
By Brian Brennan, Photography by Jason Chandler
Taking Customizing’s Most Audacious Technique
By Curt Iseli, Photography by Cody Walls
Part 1: “Wild Bill” Carter Left a Paint Legacy and an Unfinished Larry Watson Tribute. Here’s How Marcus “Shaky” Sullivan & “PPG Paul” Stoll Honored the Deal.
By Chris Shelton, Photography by Marcus “Shaky” Sullivan & “PPG Paul” Stoll
On the Cover
This ’56 Ford Crown Victoria represents one of Ford’s amazing designs during its “Tri-Five” era. Joe Gregorio sure found a great project for his 427 SOHC V-8. From here Bryan Wheeler of Wheeler’s Speed Shop brought this project to life.
Photography by Wes Allison
Modern Rodding March 2023 cover
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Modern Rodding ISSN 2692-2371 (print) ISSN 2692-238X (online) Issue 30 is published monthly by In the Garage Media, Inc., 370 E. Orangethorpe Avenue, Placentia, CA 92870-6502. Application to mail at Periodicals prices at Placentia, CA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Modern Rodding, c/o In the Garage Media, Inc., 1350 E. Chapman Ave #6550, Fullerton, CA 92834-6550 or email ITGM, Inc. at Copyright (c) 2023 IN THE GARAGE MEDIA, INC. Printed in the USA. The Modern Rodding trademark is a registered trademark of In The Garage Media, Inc.
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Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
Amazing What You Can Find

o, I find myself at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, working on the “Cup” project for a magazine article when I stumble across the original (#1) SO-CAL Speed Shop ’32 Ford highboy roadster. This is the two-tone red with white scallop paint scheme that was the original car Pete Chapouris built for the famous Southern California speed shop that he was so proud to be part of.

To be exact, while I was in the press room writing up web stories on the Barrett-Jackson Cup, I get a phone call from Dean Livermore of Hot Rods by Dean. (The auction is in his backyard so every year he and I make sure to get a couple of days at the auction to see what’s happening.) There is no doubt that this year saw both a marked growth in attendance and in the dollars many collectable cars are bringing. Now, early hot rods are still “soft,” in my opinion, and that may just be the way it will be for a while, however, such cars as Camaros are holding strong, as are the Corvettes. In fact, Corvette prices may be on an upward movement. Clearly the show darlings were classic trucks and that includes the four-wheel-drive sister trucks like the Chevrolet Blazers of the ’70s and the Broncos of the late ’60s and early ’70s. One ’68 Bronco brought in $385,000! Throw into this mix the fullsize Cadillacs of the ’60s and ’70s and a few from the early ’80s were bringing surprisingly good money.

Rodding Around

2023 Chevy pickup with flames on the side

red gear icon Triple Crown of Rodding

Big news on the Triple Crown of Rodding event, which is slated for September 8-9, 2023 (weekend after Labor Day) at Nashville Superspeedway.

PPG is now the Presenting Sponsor for the Triple Crown of Rodding.

LMC is now the Official Truck Parts Supplier of the Triple Crown of Rodding and will present the three awards set aside for the three Best Truck categories (Up to 1972, 1973-87, and 1988-98). The awards were originated by one of our very own hot rod designers Eric Brockmeyer.

Gibson Brands, Inc. is supplying six very cool Gibson SG guitars that will be engraved with the 2023 Triple Crown of Rodding logo. One will be given to each of the six Triple Crown of Rodding winners!

Modern Rodding NEW PRODUCTS

By Brian Brennan

Vintage style car gauges, Bolt-In system for Mustang, Red and silver gauge panel, and Mopar master cylinders
1. Retrotech for Your ’42-48 Ford
Achieve a drop-in upgrade for your stock ’42-48 Ford car dash with Dakota Digital’s Retrotech package. The Dakota Digital RTX series focuses on retaining that stock look without sacrificing the late-model features you value. Dakota Digital has incorporated OEM design elements regarding the layout, face styling, and indicators into their latest offering. At first glance these gauges look like original equipment, but once you hit the switch and the LED backlighting comes on in your favorite color scheme all doubts will be removed.
Modern Rodding FEATURE
The Other Tri-Five title
Ford is Also Known for its ’55-57 Designs
By Brian BrennanPhotography by Wes Allison

t’s been called the Golden Era of automotive design, and this is especially true in the eyes of hot rodders everywhere. The Tri-Five era, 1955-57, has achieved “favorable status” among hot rodders with the major Detroit OEMs. There can be no doubt about the Bowtie contribution, and what about the Buick and Olds of that era? But let’s not forget about Ford and their influence on the period, especially the ’56 Ford Crown Victoria.

red orange '56 Ford

Modern Rodding TECH

Looks That Go Beyond Skin Deep Font
1. Eric Black’s concept drawing of the coupe gives us a view into the future and what we can expect this ’35 Chevy coupe to look like- amazing.
Chevy Coupe Gets Extensive Sheetmetal Work
By Ron Covell Photography by Rodger Lee Artwork By e.Black Design

ork continues on Greg Heinrich’s outstanding ’35 Chevrolet coupe being built by Ironworks Speed & Kustom. This time we’ll focus on the extensive body modifications. The body is lengthened, chopped, wedge-sectioned, and all the fenders are extensively reworked to conform to the big ’n’ little wheels and tires.

When doing extensive modifications, it’s important to know when to stop. If you chop a top too aggressively, the result is not likely to be well proportioned. Every element of a car’s body must work with the whole ensemble, so it’s a constant balancing act to keep everything flowing harmoniously. Rodger Lee and his crew at Ironworks have a long track record of getting it right.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
"Mighty Lowe"
The Master of Metal Builds One for Himself
By Dale Moreau Photography by the Author

onn Lowe started out hammering on metal at a young age in Connecticut in the ’60s. It was a mecca of customs and hot rods and there were plenty of Mercs and other makes that needed chopping. Donn quickly learned the best way to do that to where the final look was perfect.

Down the road a bit he moved to Oregon to enlighten the rodders out there on the proper way to truly build beautiful customs and hot rods. Along the way he built a few of his own that ended up in some of the finest garages in the land. One of the customs he built for customer Doug Beattie, of Vancouver, Washington, was a ’40 Ford called the “Futurama Forty.” That gorgeous coupe garnered top awards at the Grand National Roadster Show, Portland Roadster Show, and several others.

Modern Rodding TECH

Less Altitude = More Attitude
1. It’s winter, so snow happens! But it doesn’t cool down our efforts to give this ’40 Ford Standard Tudor a “hot rod” appearance thanks to simple suspension changes from Speedway Motors and the rubber rake from Coker Tire.
How to Lower Your Hot Rod Through Simple Suspension Changes

By “Rotten” Rodney Bauman Photography by The Author


very now and then, even old hot rodders come upon a car that we’d agree just shouldn’t be modified. Even so, we can’t help ourselves, can we?

Out here in Northwestern Montana we’ve had The Flathead Ford Museum to enjoy for many years. Its curator, Lyle Aklestad, is a knowledgeable hands-on restorer, preserver, and collector who’s kindly shared his passion with likeminded Ford fans and curious passersby alike. Long story short, the Flathead Ford Museum’s recent liquidation was an opportunity for buyers. If by chance you were already a friend of Aklestad’s, there were noteworthy bargains on tap.

Modern Rodding FEATURE

A Blend of Looks and Performance typography

The ’49 Chevy Fleetline is an All-Time Hot Rod Favorite

By Brian Brennan Photography by John Jackson

here can be no denying that the postwar Chevrolet designers got it right with several of their designs. The Bel Air two-door hardtop, introduced in the ’50s, is a favorite with hot rodders everywhere. We believe the second-generation Fleetline, made from 1949-52, is a very close second, with many believing this is the “chosen one.” The Fleetline is both a highly collectable car as well as an ideal starting point for a hot rod project.

The second-generation Chevrolet Fleetline is a fullsize fastback sedan that comes in either a two- or a four-door configuration. What sets the Fleetline apart is its distinctive sloping rear roofline (1 inch shorter than a fullsize sedan) and sheetmetal design.

passenger side profile view of the black ’49 Chevy Fleetline

Modern Rodding TECH

1. With the firewall in place, it is time to tackle the upper and lower cowl panels.
Upper and Lower Cowl Replacement
Our ’64 Ford Galaxie Receives Fresh Upper and Lower Cowl Sheetmetal
By Brian Brennan Photography by Jason Chandler

ur ’64 Ford Galaxie (named “Project Lara Lor-Van”) belongs to Eddy Cebreco and has a great deal of sheetmetal work that is needed. We have already begun by replacing the firewall, now comes the upper and lower cowl areas. This is going to give us all fresh metal underhood at the firewall/windshield area. It should be noted that Auto Metal Direct (AMD) makes a great number of sheetmetal pieces for not only our ’64 Ford Galaxie but any number of other buildable material from the ’60s.

The project continues with Auto Metal Direct (AMD) freshly stamped sheetmetal. These upper and lower cowl pieces will fit both the ’63 and ’64 Ford Galaxie. The upper cowl carries PN 360-8963 while the lower cowl carries PN 360-8963-1. To achieve our efforts, we relied on AMD for the sheetmetal and then Craig Hopkins of The Installation Center to perform the work along with Jubee Mays of aMAYSing Metal Works.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
"Home Spun"
Building a ’50s-Themed ’32 Ford Highboy Coupe
By Brian Brennan Photography by Wes Allison

ne look at a “hot rod” and it will tell you what the owner’s intentions were. Steve Harvey, of Costa Mesa, California, all along wanted a mid-’50s-themed hot rod that he would build in his own garage. His goal was to use iconic parts, such as the power source, wheel and tire combo, and the correct stance that give his ’32 Ford highboy coupe its final expression.

To listen to Steve, he will tell you that he relied on his lifelong experiences with all manner of hot rods from drag to lakes racing. And like many of us we all relied on our collection of car magazines and books that brought to us the “food” required to stoke our passion. In going over his research material he gravitated toward the trends from the ’30s through the ’60s. In the end he favored the styles he found in late-’50s hot rods. A small-block Chevy or possibly an early Hemi. How about tuck ’n’ roll interior in the iconic colors of black or white, external exhaust, proper wheels and tires, and metallic paints? (And, of course, the obligatory chopped top, toss the fenders, and the oh-so-correct rake. Any hot rod can be made or lost depending on its stance and appearance driven by the chassis rake and the wheel-and-tire combo.)

Side profile of bright gloss Hemi Orange '32 Ford Highboy

Modern Rodding TECH

1. Sectioning a car involves removing a horizontal strip of steel all the way around the body. Cody Walls started with a solid foundation in his wife’s original, low-mile ’49 Buick.
The Art of Sectioning
Tackling Customizing’s Most Audacious Technique
By Curt Iseli Photography by Cody Walls

hen it comes to traditional customizing techniques, sectioning a car is arguably the most complicated. The process involves removing a horizontal band all the way around the car’s body to thin the profile—kind of like chopping a top, only you’re chopping the whole body. Done right, the results can be dramatic. Done wrong, you can wind up with an expensive collection of vintage scrap metal.

Cody Walls has been hard at work building a unique, sectioned ’49 Buick custom for his wife, Erin, at his Delaware-based shop, Traditional MetalCraft. What started as a low-mile original destined for a small-block swap and some mild modifications quickly turned into a full custom concept car. By the time you read this, it will have debuted at the 2023 Grand National Roadster Show where it was invited to compete for the vaunted Al Slonaker Memorial Award.

Modern Rodding FEATURE

Memories typography

By Brian Brennan
Photography by Chadly Johnson
Artwork by Highlander Concept Rendering

Building This ’55 Chevy Brought Back All of Those High School Dreams

By Brian Brennan
Photography by Chadly Johnson
Artwork by Highlander Concept Rendering


t was up to MetalWorks Speed Shop to find a solid-bodied ’55 Chevy–and they did, allowing John Wise of Indiana to build his high school vision and have his dream hot rod. His vision was to have a Pro Touring build with all the modern handling and performance but maintain the early looks of the ’55 Chevy.

The ’55 Chevy does have a distinctive look with its two-tone “darked out” appearance. The look comes from the all-black, in a satin and a gloss, finish effectively drawn up by Tavis Highlander and then executed by MetalWorks. Oh, did we mention that John is also fond of horsepower, hence the supercharged LS3 for power effectively controlled through the Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) GT Sport chassis with full independent suspension?

three quarter driver's side view of a black ’55 Chevy riding down a tree lined road

Modern Rodding TECH

Finishing a Masterpiece
Part 1: “Wild Bill” Carter Left a Paint Legacy and an Unfinished Larry Watson Tribute. Here’s How Marcus “Shaky” Sullivan & “PPG Paul” Stoll Honored the Deal.
By Chris Shelton Photography by Marcus “Shaky” Sullivan & “PPG Paul” Stoll

he late Bill Carter is a custom painting legend. Standing on the shoulders of giants like his mentor, Larry Watson, “Wild Bill” invented processes and forged styles that evolved to fit countless Funny Cars, boats, choppers, and dragsters over the decades that followed.

When it came to building a cruiser for him and his gal Linda, Carter went to his roots. In 2009, he bought a ’59 Thunderbird and set about building a homage to the Squarebird that defined his mentor’s career about the time they met.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Larry Watson’s ’58 Thunderbird, just know this: it wore a generation-defining candied panel paintjob over a pearl-metallic base. Carter set out to copy the car, but in his own colors (his Billy Brew, as he famously called them) and with a few of his own techniques.

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red gear


Revisiting a Great Idea …
the ’41 Willys as a Custom

hen I think of a ’40-41 Willys the first image that generally comes to mind is the nose-high gasser with the storied names on the doors, such as Stone, Woods, and Cook (although it says “Cookie” on the door, sometimes), the Big John Mazmanian gasser with its blazing Candy Apple Red color (which influenced my ’29 Ford roadster), and the K.S. Pitman bright orange machine. It’s what I grew up with. In fact, for many years I thought the ’40-41 Willys came with a blown Chrysler V-8. These A/GS cars typically had a large-bore Olds, or what would become the more popular Chrysler Hemi powerplant with a blower firmly mounted to the intake.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the ’40-41 Willys also makes an impressive custom. One of my all-time favorites is the Emerald Green ’41 Willys belonging to David Trent and built by Jason Graham of Jason Graham Hot Rods & Cool Customs. It screamed “kustom” all the while letting the world know that it is a ’41 Willys.

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Thanks for reading our March 2023 preview issue!