Building The Ultimate Ford Ranch Wagon
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The True Dual-Purpose Ride
Sophisticated A-Bodies:
’64-72 Chevelles Get Coilovers
Recessing a
Tri-Five To
Accept An LS
A Model A
Body For A
Power Swap
Sophisticated A-Bodies: ’64-72 Chevelles Get Coilovers
Firewall Efforts:
Recessing a Tri-Five To Accept An LS
Prepping A Model A Body For A Power Swap
Tommy “The Greek” Hrones
Part 1: More Than A Pinstriper
Tommy “The Greek” Hrones
September 2023
Preview Issue
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Modern Rodding CONTENTS
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Brian Brennan
Industry News
New Products
Those Supporting Our Industry
Brian Brennan
Ross & Beth Myers’ ’57 Ford Ranchero
By Brian Brennan, Photography & Videography by Michael Christensen
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Bob Johnson’s ’70 Olds 4-4-2
By Chuck Vranas, Photography & Videography by the Author
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Don Brennan’s ’32 Ford Roadster
By Chuck Vranas, Photography & Videography by the Author
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John Docktor’s ’32 Ford Highboy Five-Window Coupe
By Brian Brennan, Photography by Wes Allison
David Gazaway’s ’50 Chrysler Royal Town & Country Wagon
By Chuck Vranas, Photography & Videography by the Author
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Part 1: Ironworks Rod & Kustom Installs a Roadster Shop Chassis
By Ron Covell, Photography by Rodger Lee
Old Anvil Helps Put the A in A/V-8
By Ryan Manson, Photography by Brian Brennan
Sophisticated Suspension for GM A-Bodies
By Ron Ceridono, Photography by Brian Brennan
How to Make Your ’55 Chevy Firewall Accept an LS
By Gerry Burger, Photography by Chadly Johnson
Special Feature
Part 1: Remembering Rodding’s Pinstriping Picasso
By Michael Dobrin, Photography by the Author and Courtesy of the Greg Sharp
Collection, the Tyler Hoare Collection, and the Bob de Bisschop Collection
On the Cover:
Ross and Beth Meyers definitely know how to cruise down the highway in their ’57 Ford Ranchero. The Ranchero is ideal for cruising on its Roadster Shop chassis, and for power its Chevy LS3, but it’s also ideal for picking up those hard-to-find parts for the next project and getting them home. This great-looking hot rod was built under the watchful eye of Roy Brizio of Roy Brizio Street Rods. Photo by Michael Christensen.
September 2023 cover
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Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
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by Brian Brennan

Time to Break Out the Crystal Ball


very so often, about once a year, I like to break out my hot-rodding crystal ball. I investigate what I can glean from this magical sphere, what clues I can find as to what’s happening in our hobby/industry.

For the scientifically minded, the key is to follow our family of rodding events. Examples would be the NSRA Nationals, Goodguys Columbus, Back to the 50’s, The Triple Crown of Rodding, Grand National Roadster Show, Detroit Autorama, SEMA Show, PRI Show, or one of the main auctions, such as Barrett-Jackson or Mecum. These should provide us with the knowledge to foretell the future. I’ve been to all these events multiple times and some a staggering number of times, but for sure a handful of these events every year. I believe it keeps me abreast of what’s going on, although I’ve found that at such highly organized get-togethers the groundswell is more difficult to hear. These events are very upbeat (as they should be) but they can muffle an underlying mood. It is this individual who holds the key to the future.

The reality is one must get out amid the crowd, inhale the exhaust fumes (but be careful), look, and speak with everyone to really find out what’s happening. For me driving is one of the more important aspects that our hobby affords me and allows me to get back to my roots. (And I haven’t done enough these past few years.) While it can be a singular activity it can also be done with one or more friends. Club outings give you the best of all worlds in that you get to drive, constantly be around like-minded friends, and when the run is over there is generally a social “hour” involved and this puts a tidy bow on the day’s activities. And that’s when you speak and hear the underlying tones.

Rodding Around

By Brian Brennan

red gear icon The Triple Crown of Rodding Presents … 1 Shot by PPG Krazy Paint
ARP Automotive Racing Products
One of America’s most popular Charity Panel Jams will be part of The Triple Crown of Rodding’s inaugural event September 8-9, 2023, at Nashville Superspeedway.

The innovative Krazy Paint will bring in some of the best pinstripers and artists to create Hot Rod Art that will be sold and auctioned to raise money for kids. Over 50 artists from across the U.S. and Canada will be donating their time and creativity to the hot rod tradition of helping kids. Items like car parts, panels, cartoons, toilet seats, chairs, toolboxes, mugs, and collectibles will be turned into fine art and auctioned during the Triple Crown of Rodding event.

There will be a total of four auctions, two each day of the show, where items will go up for bid. Times for the auctions are Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Items will also be for sale at the “Buy It Now” tables during show hours.

Modern Rodding NEW PRODUCTS

By Brian Brennan

4 new products
1. Face-Lift for the ’62-63 Ford Fairlane
Dakota Digital now offers the VHX Series of instrumentation to fit the ’62-63 Ford Fairlane. It offers lighted needles, backlit faces, and a full character message center for all displays.

The VHX Series utilizes solid state sensors and precision stepper motors for the ultimate accuracy, coupled with a limited-lifetime warranty for complete support both now and in the future. It utilizes either a stock or aftermarket wiring harness, and either a stock, modified, or late-model drivetrain. Systems are available with a red, white, or blue display color and either a satin silver or black alloy–style face.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
Part Car, Part Truck ... All Hot Rod title
The ’57 Ford Ranchero Lives Equally in Both Worlds
By Brian BrennanPhotography by Michael Christensen

hen you see Ross and Beth Myers’ ’57 Ford Ranchero coming down the road toward you the initial response is, “What a good-looking Ford.” And it is, but also at first glance the Ranchero may look like any other ’57 Ford car—but it isn’t. The Ford Ranchero and the Chevy El Camino spark an immediate difference of opinion among hot rodders. “Is it a truck or a car?” And, apparently, the car crowd doesn’t think of it as a car nor does the truck crowd think of it as a truck. But in the world of hot rods there is no denying this ’57 Ford Ranchero is good looking no matter what you may think it is. We’ve often said the years from 1955 to 1957 were the “golden years” for automotive design. No denying that all the major manufacturers truly made some great-looking cars (and trucks) during this era.

yellow and white '57 Ford Ranchero
Modern Rodding Feature

"If your car wasn't done by me, you wasn't nothin'."—"Tommy The Greek" Hrones quote in white
Tommy the Greek typographic title
Remembering Rodding’s Pinstriping Picasso
The maestro at work. Tommy lays down the beltline on Dean Moon’s bittersweet orange ’34 Ford coupe at the 1955 Oakland Roadster Show. Tommy was a mainstay performer at the Oakland event. In the ’50s and ’60s he painted and ’striped several AMBR-winning cars. He was inducted into the Oakland show’s Hall of Fame in 1964.
By Michael Dobrin Photography by THE AUTHOR
Courtesy of the Greg Sharp Collection, the Tyler Hoare Collection & the Bob de Bisschop Collection

ometime in the mid ’60s, Tommy Hrones took a call at his Oakland, California, paint shop. By then he was celebrated in motoring circles as “Tommy The Greek” and his palette of subtle and scintillating scallops, slick lines, and teardrop signatures were defining accents on hundreds of show cars, customs, street and strip hot rods.

The caller said he was with GM Design, and they wanted Tommy to come to Detroit and discuss accents and styling.

The prankster kicked in: “Who’s calling?” “What?” “Where are you calling from?” “Hold on.” “Who’s this?”

“GM in Detroit. Detroit, Michigan.‘’

“Detroit. Does it snow there?”

“Yes, it does.”

“I ain’t goin’.”

Modern Rodding Feature

Just What the Doctor Ordered typography

Bob Johnson’s Tire-Searing, LS-Powered, ’70 Olds 4-4-2

By Chuck Vranas Photography & Videography by the Author

rowing up during the peak of the muscle car wars, there was plenty of excitement to be found both on the street as well as in the pages of your favorite magazines. The Rally Red ’70 Olds 4-4-2 convertible owned by Bob Johnson of Manchester, New Hampshire, on our pages is a perfect example of a ’70s-era muscle car that’s evolved into a cutting-edge performance car thanks to updated chassis dynamics, big brakes, and LS V-8 power. (Backstory on what the “4-4-2” represents: It derives from the original car’s four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts.)

Modern Rodding TECH

Tavis Highlander received the nod from Rodger Lee of Ironworks Speed & Kustom.
1. Tavis Highlander received the nod from Rodger Lee of Ironworks Speed & Kustom.
Modernizing A ’57 Ford Ranch Wagon
Part 1: Ironworks Speed and Kustom Installs a Roadster Shop Chassis
By Ron Covell Photography by Rodger Lee

ork continues at Ironworks Speed and Kustom (ISK) on Danny Schaffer’s ’57 Ford Ranch Wagon. The interior of this car has been completely redesigned—from the custom headliner to the numerous CNC-machined components on the dash, doors, and console that are unique but made to have an OEM character. Rodger Lee, the proprietor of ISK, wanted to model the interior styling after a ’60 Ford Thunderbird, an idea inspired years ago by Fat Jack Robinson. While a few Thunderbird components were used, most of the interior was fabricated from scratch, with Tavis Highlander, from Highlander Concept Rendering, making dozens of sketches for details, large and small, before the fabrication commenced. This design utilizes bucket seats both front and back. ISK makes extensive use of 3-D printing to check the fit and style of components before committing to carving them from metal. They will commonly scan a section of the car before the components are designed to ensure precise fitment.

A Roadster Shop chassis was commissioned for the Ranch Wagon, fitted with a Ford 9-inch rearend, a supercharged Ford G.T. 500 5.4L crate engine, and Ford 4R70W transmission. Wilwood brake components are used, and a Woodward power steering rack complements the Roadster Shop–designed independent front suspension.

They started with a car in very good condition, but on any car that’s over 60 years old you can expect to find some rust damage and minor body damage. The ISK crew replaced the entire floor, the rocker panels, built a new firewall, and fabricated new patch panels wherever needed. After all the repairs, they straightened every panel to perfection and adjusted the door, hood, and tailgate gaps to precise tolerances.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
Don Brennan’s ’32 Ford Roadster
By Chuck VranasPhotography by The Author

he stunning ’32 Ford roadster laid out across these pages is owned by Don Brennan, of Albany, New York, and is the perfect example of its breed. Don has been a devout muscle car owner for many decades. It has always provided him with plenty of excitement at the turn of a key but now he has a … game changer.

Modern Rodding TECH

1. Old Anvil Speed Shop has an interesting “twist” on the traditional frame modifications for the A/V-8 chassis.
A ’29 Roadster on Deuce ’Rails is a Time-Honored Tradition
Old Anvil Helps Put the A in A/V-8
By Ryan Manson Photography by Brian Brennan

hen it comes to building a traditional A/V-8 highboy roadster, one of the most challenging aspects can be modifying the ’32 Ford’s framerails to fit the body of the ’28-29 Model A. Where the flat Model A frame left a lot to be desired, the Deuce chassis has much more shape, carefully following the bottom of the body with sweeping kickups at both ends. This shape that makes the ’32 frame much more attractive, also contributes to the difficulties one faces when adapting to an early body. Not only does the rear kickup interfere with the flat floor of the Model A, but the shape of the two bodies is quite different in the passenger compartment and cowl area, requiring a rework of the shape of the perimeter framerails in the form of a pinch or two. But this work is not all for naught, for the resulting modified Deuce chassis makes for a more solid foundation and a much more attractive chassis when compared to the spindly Model A ladder frame.

With a handful of classic truck and muscle car builds under his belt, Jason Scudellari decided it was high time to build himself a legit hot rod. And by that we mean the only car truly deserving of the term: an open-wheeled, highboy roadster. Not wanting to spend half his remaining adult life repairing an original Henry Ford body, Scudellari rang the good folks at Brookville Roadster and ordered one of their all-steel ’29 Ford roadster bodies. Following that call, Speedway Motors was given a bell, resulting in a parts list that would include a pair of their ’32 Ford framerails, full-length boxing plates, dropped front crossmember, and tubular crossmember kit. This provided a solid foundation upon which Scudellari could start his hot rod build, but after some quick mock-up work he soon realized that it might make more sense to take his chassis components to a shop better equipped to build frames from scratch. Enter the gang at Old Anvil Speed Shop.

Having the ability to fabricate a chassis in a precise manner requires a specific combination of skill and equipment, something Old Anvil has in spades. The guys know what it takes to put together a hot rod, so they immediately set their sights on Scudellari’s roadster body so that it could be dimensioned, the overall shape noted, and the body mount locations plotted out. These specs were then transferred to a sheet of 1-inch plywood, which will act as a template as the framerails are modified. Armed with this information, the Old Anvil crew started fabricating not only the chassis, but a new chassis jig that will serve to locate future A/V-8 builds as well. As each section was heated, tweaked, and modified to better fit the confines of the ’29 body, uprights were added to the chassis table to keep things locked in place. The result is a chassis that has literally been built to suit Scudellari’s roadster in an extremely accurate manner.

Modern Rodding FEATURE
’32 Ford Highboy Five-Window Coupe Represents “Dreams” That Come True
By BRIAN BRENNANPhotography by Wes Allison

his ’32 Ford highboy five-window coupe represents the pulling together of many dreams. It was John Docktor’s, of Bedford, Texas, “dream” to build a hot rod that maybe a returning GI from World War II would have built for himself as his daily driver and weekend racer. John assembled the SO-CAL Speed Shop (SCSS) rolling chassis at home in Texas and then from there he leaned on the Veazie Brothers’ shop in Pomona, California, to bring it to its current finished state.

The SCSS chassis’ 107-1/2-inch wheelbase is based on one of its Step-Boxed frames. The custom Deuce ’rails benefit from a flat front crossmember (such as a Model A, adding an additional inch of lower suspension drop), motor mounts, a custom center crossmember that provides for the manual transmission mount, and the rear crossmember that works with a Ford 9-inch and SCSS tube shocks.

Modern Rodding TECH

Four Corner Coilovers
1. Gary Nelson, Aldan American’s technical wizard, led us through the front and rear coilover installation on a ’69 Chevelle, which is typical of any ’64-72 GM A-body.
Sophisticated Suspension for GM A-Bodies
By Ron Ceridono Photography by Brian “B-Body” Brennan

or reasons that aren’t entirely clear, General Motors has never seen fit to use all the letters in the alphabet to identify the various designs of their cars. Take A-bodies as an example. The letter A was used to identify specific chassis platforms as far back as 1926 and continued through 1958. In 1982 GM introduced another round of A-bodies that were front-wheel drive, but the A-bodies that we are interested in are those that were produced from 1964-72.

Absent from the scene since 1959, GM revived the A-body designation in 1964 to identify the all-new, intermediate-sized, rear-wheel drive platform lineup that included the Chevrolet Chevelle (including the El Camino), Monte Carlo, Buick Special, Oldsmobile Cutlass, and Pontiac Tempest. All these cars used a perimeter frame, conventional front suspension with unequal-length front control coil springs, and tube shocks. In the rear, all used a four-link suspension system with coil springs and tube shocks. All A-body cars had a 115-inch wheelbase except the station wagons that were stretched to 120 inches.

Compared to the excesses of the previous decade, the ’64-72 GM A-body lineups were classic examples of simple and clean automotive styling. From a performance standpoint there were a variety of high-horsepower options that would shove passengers back in their seats. Even by contemporary standards these cars had it all, with one glaring exception, when spirited cornering is involved it’s obvious handling was not one of their positive traits. Arguably one of the reasons that many cars of the that era had handling deficiencies could be blamed on the tires of the time, but the suspension could benefit from help as well and it’s readily available from Aldan American.

Modern Rodding Feature

"Royal Hauler"
"Royal Hauler"
David Gazaway’s Rare ’50 Chrysler Royal Town and Country
By Chuck Vranas Photography & Videography By THE AUTHOR

here’s nothing more iconic than the family station wagon. For decades it was the dependable household member always ready to take on everything from dropping the kids off at school to handling the grocery runs and regularly visiting your favorite burger joint. Loading up its cavernous interior for family vacations to take on the open road was a snap, as was packing it full of excited movie-goers for nights at the drive-in where you paid by the carload. The immaculate ’50 Chrysler Royal Town and Country station wagon owned by David Gazaway of Bow, New Hampshire, is a perfect example of period style and design when station wagons were a staple on the American landscape.

Modern Rodding TECH

1. Sparks from within, a sure sign team MetalWorks is on the job. This time the job is fabricating and installing a smooth firewall in David Goodwin’s ’55 Chevrolet.
Recess Time
How to Make Your ’55 Chevy Firewall Accept an LS3
By Gerry Burger Photography by Chadly Johnson

avid Goodwin and the team at MetalWorks Speed Shop in Eugene, Oregon, are putting together one very tasteful, Pro Touring–style ’55 Chevy hardtop. Like most top-shelf hot rods, this one does a fine job of hiding all the cool fabrication, making it look like the car could have been built this way in 1955

He has had a string of cool cars since the ’60s, so he has learned there is no better money spent than on the original car. Paying a bit more up front for a good example saves you money in the end and leads to a better finished product. Armed with that wisdom, he found a good example of a ’55 Chevrolet Bel Air hardtop. While the car was not a 100-point restoration, it was a good, solid start.

First, team MetalWorks rolled the original chassis out from under the car and the Art Morrison Enterprises GT Sport chassis was rolled into place. Four-wheel independent suspension, Wilwood Pro-II disc brakes, and Flaming River rack-and-pinion steering are just some of the highlights under the car. It is obvious from these specs that Goodwin enjoys spirited performance. One of his past cars was a ’67 427 Corvette. Once you’ve had a 427 you never get over it. Goodwin thought another 427 would be perfect for his latest project, but this time it would be 427 inches wrapped in a tighter and lighter package, namely a modern small-block LS3.

Parting Shot

Americans Aren’t Fond of Ties
By BRIAN BRENNAN Photography courtesy of The Greg Sharp Collection

mericans, and I suppose hot rodders, fall into this category of not being fans of ties. We like winners and we like a clear distinction … he (or she) won, he (or she) didn’t. Now, that brings up a whole other category of “participation trophies” to assuage the wounded egos but that too is a story for another story. In going back through history of some of the major shows we find that the preeminent show of all—the Grand National Roadster Show with its nearly 10-foot-tall perpetual trophy for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster—has had two ties in its storied history.

Winning twice is cool but tying, as I said earlier, is not cool. Hot rodders do not like ties. It’s possible in professional sports here in America to end up with ties but achieving it is a massive undertaking as the rules are set up to prevent ties. We like a clear and distinct winner in our sports, whether we watch on TV or at the local fairground. Having said this there have been ties in professional baseball (2016 was the last time and that was the result of Mother Nature and a forceful downpour), football (29 ties since 1974), hockey (none since the inception of the “shootout” in 2005-2006 to decide tie games), but not in professional basketball. One might consider basketball as the “purest” of all sports, making sure everyone goes home knowing who won and who lost.

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Thanks for reading our September 2023 preview issue!