(Photos: Darren Greenwood Photography / Words: Jake Steele)
The headline would read something like this: “Mild-mannered accountant secretly builds shockingly well executed hot rod.” Just below, the subheading elaborates, “Man steadfast in his determination to complete lofty project.” To the right, a small, grainy photo of a proud man standing in the doorway of his garage, arms folded, a wrench in one hand. Just behind him, the silhouette of a hot rod coupe with a menacing stance. And on his face, a satisfied smirk. One he earned through years of dedication. Through countless knuckle-busting nights alone in his garage. His days may be spent crunching numbers, but by night, his hands make the transition from calculator to body hammer. Is it a super power to build a hot rod? Arguable I guess. But after seeing the incredible level of finish on this car and speaking with it's owner, I couldn't help but think of him as some kind of secret hot rod building super hero. The contrast was just too much for me to not. I imagined him hastily ripping off his tie at 5:01, rushing home to jump into a pair of coveralls and take on his alter-ego. In this case, our real life Clark Kent's name is Kevin Burton.
Kevin is an exceedingly nice guy. Soft spoken and modest. On one hand, a respected chief financial officer, on the other, a die-hard hot rodder. He is a smart and personable guy who gets things done. Kevin had always had an admiration for hot rod and custom cars, but had always seemed too busy to take one on. As so often is the case, life got in the way. His first attempt to scratch his mechanical itch resulted in the creation of a custom motorcycle. Once completed, Kevin was left with a mixture of satisfaction and yearning. Having successfully completed his two-wheeled endeavor, he knew just what had to come next. He was going to build the hot rod he had always wanted. In his mind there was only one suitable candidate for his dream car... a 1934 Ford 3 Window Coupe. It was 2009 and the hunt was on.
This part of the story is a cautionary tale of sorts. It begins with the E-word: Yes, eBay. We've all heard the stories, maybe even experienced them ourselves. You know how this goes: An excited purchase made solely off of photos, anticipation, and a majorly deflated mood once the car arrives. This was the case here. In short, the car was not exactly as advertised. It had had some work done to it and was already chopped, but needed to be completed. Unfortunately, what looked ok in photos was in reality a cobbled together mess. As Kevin puts it, “It was a total disaster. There's no other way to put it. I was just sick.”
Situations like this is where the men get separated from the boys. A lot of guys may have thrown in the towel. Cut their losses. Moved on. As he weighed the options, Kevin focused on turning his disappointment into motivation. Ultimately, the decision was made to push forward. So, with that, he rolled up his sleeves, pushed his billowing cape to the side, and got to it. It wouldn't be a short adventure. There were no shortcuts available, it was all just work. There were plenty of things along the way that he had never done before. But instead of giving up, Kevin learned as he went. Some things were more difficult than others, but through it all, he never thought of quitting. “I just kept going,” Kevin says, “One piece, one thing at a time. I didn't get in a hurry. Just about every night and weekend I dedicated to working on something.” ( Can you say TWO HOURS A NIGHT? )
It would be 7 years of hard work to get to the stunning final product you see in front of you. Of course, Kevin wasn't completely alone in his journey. There were certain things that were farmed out along the way. In the end, Kevin estimates 80% of the original metal ultimately had to be replaced. Some of the more critical portions of that process were trusted to Steve's Auto Restoration in Portland, Oregon before the final body and paint work could be performed by Jody Starner and the crew at Sonic Body and paint in Dunmore, Alberta. Body modifications were plentiful. There are so many custom touches on this coupe that it would be difficult to name them all. The most obvious of course is the heavy chop and channel job to get that perfect angry look. Additionally, a filled roof, smoothed firewall and a hundred other subtleties equate to one of the most gorgeous and well thought out '34 Ford coupes around.
The chassis was thoroughly worked over and boxed before the big bored and stroked (to 284 cubic inches) 8BA and C4 were placed between it's rails. Further stance enhancements were handled via a 4” dropped axle and 5.50's up front, 6.50's in the rear. The only thing left was to compliment the custom mixed maroon paint with a proper interior. Cascade Interiors were tasked with installing distressed brown leather over the hand formed bench seat and door panels for the perfect combination of form and function. The end result is a car that's absolutely out of this world in terms of it's fit and finish, overall presence and cohesiveness. It really is just a stunning car no matter what angle you choose to view it from.
Since completion, Kevin's custom hot rod coupe has been pulling double-duty as both a fun weekend cruiser and show car. In the process, dragging home a few trunk loads of trophies along the way. Not bad for a guy's first hot rod build, eh? Super, some might say..