Street rods are a deceptively simple art form. Nearly anyone with enough resources can produce a passable ’30s era Ford but few can create a car that stands function and form on equal ground. That level of build takes years of study, practice, and more than a little daydreaming, but this ’31 Ford 5-window coupe makes finding that balance look easy. The car features an all-steel Ford body, a custom Lobeck chassis, reliable small block power, and amenities that rival most modern cars. Recently freshened, virtually everything in sight is new and, best of all, the car is an absolute pleasure to drive. If you’re looking for the perfect Ford coupe to cruise through your endless summer, spend some time getting to know this ’31.
The all-steel body started life on the Ford assembly line, destined for much better things. Today, it features some choice modifications that transformed the car from basic transportation to modern head turner. Work started with a chop that brought the roofline down roughly 4.75 inches. The firewall was recessed for some extra clearance while the original rear bumper setup was replaced by a custom roll pan. Details like the frenched passenger-side antenna add a level of detail any enthusiasts can appreciate. Once the body work was completed, the car was sprayed with a coat of bright yellow paint from DuPont. Buried under plenty of clear, the paint has a great luster and a shine that, with care, will be around for a long time to come. The bright hue is accented by a hand-painted, red pinstripe which merges in a small ’31 graphic on the rear of the car. A nearby “Good Vibrations Again” script casually references the heyday of hot rods.
Naturally, the finishing pieces are every bit as impressive as the body itself. The front centers on a ’32 grille and shell tucked behind a dropped headlight bar that locates a pair of H4 headlights. Turn signals are fit discretely into the chrome spreader bar below. The side profile offers chrome hood hinges just below three rows of hood louvers, while chrome door handles and body-matched dual rear-view mirrors add some user-friendly touches to the exterior. On either side, just above the running boards, small billet fuel caps grant access to dual saddle-style fuel tanks below. The greenhouse features all new custom glass and weather-stripping with stainless wipers in place to clear the windshield. A visor has been added above for some period-correct style. Out back, lighting is provided by an integrated third brake light that pairs with rectangular tail lights that have been frenched into the fenders.
The heartbeat of this Ford is a GM 350 block bored .030 over for a grand total of 355 cubic inches. The block is of the 3970014 variant which could be found in just about everything GM offered during the late 1960s to late 70s. That stalwart base is topped with aluminum Trick Flow heads, a polished Edelbrock intake manifold, and a single Edelbrock 600 CFM EnduraShine carburetor. With some help from hardware like a Comp cam, roller lifters, and roller rockers, the small block achieves 10.25:1 compression and an estimated 380hp. The accessory drive powers all the modern conveniences on the car, so you’ll find pieces like a chrome air conditioning compressor and alternator spinning opposite of a Walker radiator which is aided by a single electric fan. Turn the key and an MSD ignition box and coil work in harmony with a Mallory distributor to send spark through bright yellow wires routed neatly below the valve covers. Spent gases are whisked out through coated Street & Performance headers that flow into a polished stainless exhaust system. The polished bay shows with authority, while carrying the reliability GM small blocks are known for.
Peak underneath the car to find a fully dressed undercarriage topped with pieces like a chrome oil pan, transmission pan, and chrome rotor covers. The foundation is a custom Lobeck chassis dressed in a matching coat of yellow. The front end is supported by a chrome drop axle, while a four-link with coilovers keeps the rear off the ground. In the center, a TH350 3-speed automatic knows just when to shift. The unit has been fully rebuilt and updated with a shift kit and a B&M torque converter with a 2,300 rpm stall. From there, power is sent down the driveshaft to a Ford 9-inch rear with limited slip and versatile 3.50 gears. When the roads curve, a Mullins Vega-style steering box makes the most of driver input, while front disc and rear drum brakes make stopping a breeze. At the corners, a combination of 14 and 15-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels are wrapped in P175/65R14 front and P265/75R15 rears for a great vintage look.
Swing the doors open to find a full custom interior stitched by Portage Trim out of Ravenna, Ohio. The work starts at the ground level where fresh tan carpet provides a soft surface protected by matching floor mats. A pair of form-fitting bucket seats wrapped in two-tone simulated leather offer plenty of support for long drives. A Lokar shifter with a matching leather boot sticks through the floor next to a matching emergency brake lever. A mini console just behind the shifter makes room for power window switches and power locks. Slide into the driver seat for a better view of the plainspoken yellow dashboard. There are vents at either side for the A/C to breathe through while a trio of sliders within a stainless Vintage Air panel operate the system. Above, classy AutoMeter gauges keep tabs on speed, revs, fuel, oil, water, and voltage. An Ididit tilt column has been painted to match, offering control of the front wheels through a leather-wrapped Boyd Coddington wheel. A quick look overhead reveals a custom headliner that ties perfectly into the custom panels throughout the cabin. The headliner also houses a Sony AM/FM/CD head unit that sends signal to a pair of speakers built into the custom kick panels. With a flick of a switch, the electric deck lid opens to reveal a nicely finished space that continues the use of tan simulated leather even further.
Documentation is always important and this car comes with a nice collection. Things get started with a hand-written list of modifications, hours, and costs involved. Build photos highlight key processes while a stack of component manuals offer all the information you need to fully utilize the hardware on your new street rod.
All things considered, this ’31 Ford is a veritable master’s thesis on building a proper street rod. From the impressive Lobeck chassis and polished small block, to details like the dual saddle-style fuel tanks and compact Vega steering box, the car was clearly built with thought and a thorough understanding of the subject matter. That translates to a great looking 5-window with tons of modern convenience and impressive road manners. Great all-around street rods are always a hot commodity, so don''t count on this ''31 sitting around for long!