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by Steve Temple  More from Author

When All the Signs are Right for a Rod

Building a street rod sometimes takes a bit of astronomy, as in waiting for all the planets to line up. In Bill Payne’s case, it was the 9/11 attack that finally prompted him to get busy creating the ‘’33 Ford he’d always wanted. “I just realized on that day that nothing’s ever for sure in this life,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to leave this life without owning this kind of car.”

Part of the initial delay was cost, since he preferred a steel body, but that wasn’t within his means. He toyed with the idea of a Deuce as well, but he felt that car was a bit small for him. So after a bit of searching he found a fiberglass body in southern Florida, and later discovered this alternative had another bonus besides lower cost—“It stays cool in the hot Florida sun,” he points out. Payne sought out Al Kamhi of Blue Moon for assistance in completing the car, who has plenty of experience working with fiberglass bodies on Cobra replicas.

“We were initially impressed by the lay-up quality of the ’33 Ford body, and were happy to see we wouldn’t have to do much blocking and sanding on the surface,” Al Kamhi commented. “But it turns out the manufacturer had never fitted one a chassis, so we spent some extra time lining up the panels and getting the gaps around the doors right. We really wanted to get the look just right.”

Body fitment can actually be one of the more challenging aspects of building a ‘glass rod. Not all bodies just drop on a chassis, and often some expertise in adding material or shaving edges is required.

But Kamhi and crew went several steps further. That included adding custom “spats” just forward of the 1993 LT-1 Corvette engine, to cover up some of the accessory and plumbing, so only items showing from the sides are the matching yellow cover, billet components, braided lines and block-hugger exhaust headers from Street & Performance.

Other body mods included filling out the windshield frame, since originally the body was designed for pop-out glass, rather than flush mounted. In addition, Kamhi raised the grille shell a couple inches to fit the grille from Hot Rods USA, and radiused the garnish molding around the windows.

Billet trim pieces at the nose, sides and gas filler were some nice touches as well, but the really hard part is the stuff you can’t see. As in wiring and Secret Audio’s electronics concealed in a custom console and behind the rear bulkhead. “We wanted the underbody to look really clean, so we tucked everything away,” Kamhi comments.

Easier said than done, because Payne’s key electronic fob not only unlocks the suicide-style doors, but also opens them and the trunk lid, and lowers the windows as well. In line with the clean, high-tech theme, the PRNDL display is a Dakota Digital device mounted on the Ididit steering column.

The latter addition was one of several changes Payne requested mid-stream in the project. “He reads all the rod magazines, and would come into the shop with a page torn out to show us some new item he wanted to add, Kamhi laughs, rolling his eyes. “Eventually I told him that he’s not allowed to read any more magazines! I wanted him to keep things relatively clean and simple, because that’s the charm of this car.”

As a concession to tradition, vintage-style Classic Instruments grace the center of the dash. Below that, a tidy quad gauge cluster monitors engine vitals all within a single bezel. To ensure the interior kept a warm, comfortable feel, Blue Moon used genuine leather upholstery to cover the seats, door panels, rear cowl and headliner.

Backing up the modern mill is a 4L60 OD automatic, and custom three-inch driveshaft and a Ford 9-inch with 3.50:1 gearing. Although a perimeter frame came with the body, Blue Moon added an X-brace for extra stiffness, along with Control Freak’s Mustang II-style front suspension. The rearend is suspended by a four-link setup with a Panhard bar.

While all the electronics and mechanicals were sorted out, the body was slathered with Sikkens paint, in a Ford BZ Yellow Chrome color scheme. The result is an unforgettable combination of both the traditional and modern, a ride that not only lines up with the planets, but also is a real star among street rods.

SOURCES:

Blue Moon Cars
888/325-6462
www.bluemooncars.com

Dakota Digital, Inc.
800/593-4160
www.dakotadigital.com

Hot Rods USA
888/875-MOON
www.hotrodsusa.com

Ididit, Inc.
517/424-0577
www.ididitinc.com


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