When it comes to old school Fords, the world has plenty of street rods – especially late thirties and early forties offerings. But for every Henry Ford original that’s gifted a Mustang II front clip and small block Chevy, the initial appeal that drove buyers into showrooms drifts one page further into history. Thankfully, there are still cars like this stunning ’35 3-window that remind us just how great these classics were in all their era-correct glory. Powered by a legendary flathead, backed by a rugged 3-speed and dressed in traditional Ford Black, this former Rod & Custom feature epitomizes vintage American elegance. And if you’re looking for a near-perfect cruiser that puts a new shine on pre-war ambition, they simply don’t get nicer!
Approaching this sleek beauty, it’s difficult not to be taken with its killer profile. Josh Mills of Mills & Co., the man who originally envisioned the car, wanted to build a period-perfect ‘prototype’ of something James Cagney might drive in a well-done Film Noir. To achieve that lofty goal, he needed a solid profile that could benefit from very specific metalwork. Josh’s journey began with a trip to the 2005 Charlotte Auto Fair where he found two ’35 3-window coupes advertised on a small bulletin board. Initially buying one of the coupes, Josh eventually ended up with both thanks to an anxious seller. Because he wanted to do a chop, Josh sold the first, unaltered car in favor of a botched roof job on the second car. The next three years would be spent sourcing era-correct parts. And, after thoroughly massaging the coupe’s Henry Ford steel, he shipped it to Customs and Color in Woodstock, Georgia for some of the best black two-stage on the planet!
There really isn’t much you can do to make a 30s-era Ford more attractive. The car’s streamlined styling was a home-run when originally introduced; and today, it’s a stunning example of some of the strongest elements of the highly regarded Art Deco movement. That said; Mills & Co. knew exactly how to take this 3-window from bankable B-lister to astonishing A-lister. At the front of the car, a custom chrome grille, which hangs a filled top and custom bull nose above a peaked base, rides between relocated, ’36 Ford headlights and a chrome ’38 Ford bumper. At the sides of that bumper, sculpted fenders rake past custom-trimmed air extractors and a smooth, folding hood. Behind those fenders, original, re-vulcanized running boards parallel old school bear claws and simple chrome handles. Opposite those boards, a small stainless wiper accents a ’36 5-window insert channel, which balances a 2.5-inch chop in front of a 3-inch chop. And opposite that wiper, a ’35 Ford trunk hangs above modified ’40 Ford skirts, frenched ’39 Ford tail lights and a second ’38 Ford bumper that’s fitted with a ’41 Ford grille guard.
As the company’s final Henry Ford-fueled innovation, the Ford V8 remains a durable, torque-rich powerplant that, thanks to solid engineering, has established an unmatched reputation in the classic and custom car community. And, in keeping with hot rod tradition, this stellar Ford coupe is powered by a 284 cubic inch 59L flathead. Born in 1946, and machined and balanced by legend Putt Smith, the throaty mill growls with the help of a roster of vintage parts that includes an NOS Johnson valvetrain, NOS 81A rods and a Don Zig-prepped Harman & Collins Magneto. Fuel and air enter through a polished Edelbrock intake and, aided by a Mercury crank, a Winfield SU-1A cam and NOS Johnson lifters, exit through polished Fenton headers. Aesthetically, the block, which perches elegant air cleaners and dual 94 carburetors above aluminum Edelbrock heads, has been painted a traditionally dark hue. Cool details like a chrome generator, a chrome fan and reproduction Ford hoses add enough shine to win the show. And overall, this custom’s super smooth engine bay is a charming and 100% functional step back into a much simpler, and some would say better, period of American automotive history.
Speaking of simpler times, take one look under this reliable Ford chop-top and you’ll see just how much the automotive world has changed. But that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be as Mills wanted this coupe to feel like a true, period-perfect hot rod. Clean and solid floors, replaced during restoration, are finished in a predictable layer of black. A heavy duty frame, C-notched in the rear to achieve the car’s lustworthy stance, is finished to match. A ’40 Ford 3-speed makes good use of a lightened ’34 Ford flywheel, a ’46 Ford clutch and 19/25 tooth Lincoln gears. Power flows to a ’46 Columbia axle that, thanks to ’40 Columbia controls, spins either 4.11 strip scorchers or 2.94 boulevard busters. In front of that drivetrain, a ’40 Ford suspension hangs a 3.5-inch Mor-Drop axle behind ’41 Ford shackles, a ’40 Ford steering box and ’39 Houdaille shocks. Behind that drivetrain, a second pair of Houdaille shocks combines with a de-arched ’37 Ford spring to maintain the car’s killer ride height. Stops come courtesy of ’39 Ford brakes that, naturally, are piped to a ’39 Ford master cylinder. There’s an aluminized, true-dual exhaust system, which barks through Mellow Tone glasspack mufflers. And it all rides on clean, ’36 Ford wheels which spin fresh 6.00-16 Firestone Deluxe Champion whitewalls around a fusion of ’36 Zephyr trim rings and ’37 Ford center caps.
Pop this coupe’s doors and you’ll find an attractive Naugahyde interior that was installed by Burt Litton of Burt Litton Street Rods. At ground level, black carpet weaves a thick cover between a chrome HaDees heater, ’39 Ford foot pedals and “V8” branded sill plates. At the front of that carpet, a body-matched dash, which marries the bottom section of a ’40 Ford with the top section of a ’35 Ford, allows use of the car’s stock windshield roll-out mechanism. Seating is provided by a ’36 flip-up bench, which has been lowered over a modern JVC CD player. Above that seat, a custom headliner centers a small dome lamp behind an oval rearview mirror. In front of the driver, a ’41 Mercury steering wheel laps a chrome shifter, a ’40 Ford column and a modified ’40 Ford harness. At the sides of the passengers, custom door panels hang ’49 Chevy armrests and ’36 Plymouth handles behind a ’40 Ford emergency brake. And behind the cockpit, a super clean trunk grants access to a modified fuel filler.
Stylish and alluring, this striking custom is a bellwether of pre-war creativity. Virtually every piece of this blue chip blue oval fulfills a vision that’s equal parts purpose and class. You really can’t ask for a more authentic blend of old school style and era-correct driving characteristics. And you certainly can’t build anything this nice for the time or money it takes to drive out of our RK Motors Charlotte showroom. Step up to something different - this Ford 3-window is ready to show AND go!