Hot Rod|October 2021
Built in the ’30s. Forgotten in the ’50s. How a barn find 1933 Ford was resurrected as the Devil’s Coupe.
Chuck Vranas & Tim Bernsau

Automotive journalist Chuck Vranas has written hundreds of stories about other people’s hot rods. Today, he’s telling the remarkable story of his own 1933 Ford coupe, a long-lost survivor from the pre-War era, resurrected from a half-century slumber and driven in preserved condition from hot rodding’s earliest years.—HRM

If the Devil drove a hot rod, it would have to be as nasty as this 1933 Ford five-window coupe. This is a car with a battle-scarred body that tells its story with an attitude, and with the accent of a snarling, hopped-up flathead V8 breathing through straight pipes.

It was fate that brought this car and owner together. As a hot rod photographer, I see plenty of wicked hot rods on a regular basis with some of the best stories being unearthed along the way. Typically, by the time I see them, the cars have already changed hands and moved on to their new owners. In the case of this particular coupe, the game-changer was a scheduled visit to Dave Simard’s legendary East Coast Custom in Leominster, Massachusetts. I was working on a photo assignment, shooting a build book for a roadster destined to compete for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR). As I pulled up to the shop, I came face to face with the ’33 parked under an open-air storage area.

This was a fresh arrival—still covered with cobwebs after being unearthed and with an obvious story to tell. The first thing I noticed was a tortured 1961 Texas license plate bolted to the front bumper. Dave informed me that he had known about the car for a decade and had been calling the owner in Texas twice a year for the last 10 years to inquire about it. The owner finally agreed to sell the car and it had just been dropped off at the shop the night before.

Dave is one of the foremost experts, collectors, and builders of traditional Ford hot rods in the world today, and I quietly listened as he told the story behind the car. In front of my eyes was a truly rare survivor car. The rust-free 1933 Ford five-window V8 business coupe had been a pre-war (World War II) hot rod, then transitioned into a ’50s rod before being put to sleep for 52 years.

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