The concept of this car was probably hatched some 20 years ago by my cousin, Ian Hardman, who has been my hot-rodding influence for most of my life. His passion for early Fords is infectious and after completing my last build, a 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible that was featured in Australian Street Rodding, issue 285, I was looking for a project.
Ian had been collecting parts for years with the ’35 convertible in mind, but like most rodders, had too many projects and not enough time to complete them all. He suggested that it might be something I may consider, and with his infectious passion, I was soon hooked.
The deal sealer for me was that the chassis had already been completed, original ’35 rails boxed, HK Holden front end, Commodore rack, Jag rear, and the motor being a 351 Cleveland to which I later added an AOD four-speed overdrive auto. Ian had also made custom extractors and engine pipes back to the mufflers, a Ford XB brake booster and the master cylinder had also been installed. Ian had completed lots of custom work including a sump modification to allow for the steering shaft, heat shields for both battery and brake components and a Rod-Tech brake pedal was mounted and connected.
The 351 Cleveland is from a 1974 Ford and has been bored .030” oversize by Grants Engines, balanced and blueprinted while being loaded with ACL pistons to suit the 302 Clevo conrods. A hydraulic camshaft, TRW lifters, Jet pushrods, and modified Pro Comp cylinder heads were also installed, along with an Edelbrock dual-plane intake manifold, Holley 600 carby, a Motorcraft ignition system, and rocker covers, and air cleaner from Cal Custom. The radiator is a Walker reproduction assisted in cooling the engine by a thermo fan.
With all this groundwork completed, a deal was struck and the plan evolved. Ian intended to use a ’36 sedan cowl as he thought it was a better option having small moulded dimples on top to hold the bonnet when open and small rubber pads down the side to hold the bonnet in line with the cowl when closed. The ’35 cowl doesn’t hav these features, The plan was to use the back half of a ’35-’36 coupe body that he had found, but it was in terrible condition, so I asked around and was able to get a better body from Eagles member, Colin Whyte, along with front and rear bumpers (a bit rough) and three-quarters of a boot lid. Colin informed me that the back half of the body was a five-window coupe, had come from South Africa and that the roof had already been hacked off, so it was perfect for my use.
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