Bill Smith's 1934 Ford
- 1 A Basement Full of Tools
- 2 Tired of Altered Stockers
- 3 Oldsmobile Powerplant
- 4 Chopped, Channeled and Sectioned
- 5 Light Turquoise
- 6 Pinstriped by Tommy the Greek
- 7 Sunset Orchid
- 8 Fiberglass Top
- 9 I Was Mortified as a Teen...
- 10 The Rebuild
- 11 Sold to William Young
- 12 Magazine Features and Appearances
- 13 References
A Basement Full of Tools
Built from a retired Tudor Sedan, the build was started in 1955. Bill modified the body by cutting off the roof and moving it down to form the trunk. He was 17 or 18 years old when he started the build. His father, William Smith Sr., was a professional metalman, so the Smith basement was according to George Burnley of Cars Magazine full of tools; "Nearly every weekend or holiday finds one or more of the Smiths hard at work on some intriguing do-it-yourself project."
Tired of Altered Stockers
In 2019 Bill's younger brother John Smith told later owner William Young that he was about 9 years old when his brother bought the car and immediately started chopping it up; "I couldn’t understand what he was doing," John told William. Bill told George Burnley that he was tired of seeing cars in local shows that were just altered stockers, "which, while well built and individualistic, lacked being radical enough to suit his taste and capabilities."
Borrowing his dad's tools, Bill modified the frame to accommodate a 1952 Oldsmobile powerplant. Up front, he installed a 1940 Ford front end. A Ford torque tube was installed as a front transverse member and a piece of 3/8-inch plate was bent to a channel and welded to the rails as a front engine mount. The frame was X'd with a 6-x-2 1/2 inch channel, and the rear crossmember was modified to hold a 1950 Oldsmobile rear end adapted to Ford springs. A 1940 Ford steering box was turned on its side in order to integrate the 1940 Ford front end with a 1949 Oldsmobile shaft. A 1955 Chevrolet master cylinder and pedal assembly was adapted to the combo.
Chopped, Channeled and Sectioned
The body was channeled and reworked to meet the '34 fenders and rear valance. For space up front, the cowl was moved back 13 inches, widened 10 inches, and sectioned six inches. The total height of the altered body, from the ground to the top of the cowl was 38 inches. Inside, Bill fabricated a new dashboard that he made from grained station wagon metal side-trim, giving it a look of rich hardwood. The top of the dash came from a 1954 Oldsmobile. The window frames of the original doors were cut off, and the remaining shell was reworked to fit the roadster-type doorways. The original top from the tudor was grafted onto the rear of the body, giving it a stock appearing trunk. Bill made a deck lid that he installed in the old roof-opening. Up front, he installed a 6 inch sectioned 1932 Ford grille that he mated to the 1934 Ford fenders. The grille strips were duplicated in brass and chrome plated. Bill then fabricated a 5-piece hood that he punched 60 louvers into. It was dressed up with custom made bumpers, Dietz headlights, Stewart-Warner gauges, and motorcycle taillights. It rolled on Oldsmobile wheels that Bill installed with whitewall tires and 1955 Oldsmobile Fiesta hubcaps.
The Smith's painted and upholstered the car themselves, and the first iteration of the roadster was painted Light Turquoise. The interior was upholstered in matching Blue and White Naugahyde. Once completed, the car was shown at the 1956 National Roadster Show. By the time of the show, Bill had replaced the original Oldsmobile HydraMatic transmission with a 1953 Oldsmobile unit that he converted to floor shift. Later the same year, the car was featured in the August 1956 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine. The story was titled "Roadster With a Flair."
Pinstriped by Tommy the Greek
Bill's roadster was also shown at the 1957, 1958, and 1959 National Roadster Show, and it was known for winning every show it entered. When the car was shown at the 1957 National Roadster Show Bill had installed a pair of brass windshield posts and a windshield. It had been painted red under the fenders, and it was dressed up with dark blue and white pinstriping by Tommy the Greek. According to the souvenir program from the show, that iteration of the car featured a 4" bore, aluminum pistons, Iskenderan cam, and four Stromberg 97 carburetors on a handmade intake. It also ran handmade exhaust manifolds.
By 1958 Bill had repainted the car Sunset Orchid. He showed that iteration of the car at the 1958 Fresno Autorama, and according to the souvenir program from the show, it also ran a Mallory ignition.
Later on, the Smiths fabricated a top out of fiberglass for the car. The top was reinforced with steel before they covered it with white Naugahyde. It was shown with the top on at the 1959 National Roadster Show. By then Bill had also installed a 1955 Chevrolet steering wheel and a set of Dodge 15" wire wheels with original cast brass chrome plated hubcaps.
I Was Mortified as a Teen...
Christa Smith, Bill's daughter, remembers the car from when she was growing up; "I was mortified as a teen when my first boyfriend, who had a fast 69 Camaro, told me that “a couple of old guys blew their doors off” on City Line Rd one night—dad in the 34, of course," she told William Young.
In 1981 Bill wanted to go drag racing with the old custom, so he decided to rebuild it. During the rebuild, he installed a 402 turbo big block engine that Luther Lane had built for him, a 400 turbo transmission, a Buick rear end, disc brakes, and a leather interior. The interior was stitched by Hank's Trim Shop. Ron La Komy repainted the body white, while Tommy the Greek was once again hired to stripe it.
Sold to William Young
In June of 2019 William Young of Austin, Texas bought the old custom from Bill. Bill had decided to part with his old custom, and he advertised it for sale on Craigslist. In order to bring it back to its former glory, William began the transformation by installing a set of steelie wheels that he dressed up with 1954 Ford hubcaps and Firestone bias-ply whitewall tires. A couple of weeks later William installed a set of 1955 Oldsmobile Fiesta hubcaps on the car.
Magazine Features and Appearances
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