Pete Limpert's 1936 Ford
1936 Ford tudor sedan owned and restyled by Peter Limpert of Gardena, California. Peter, also known as Pete, was a resident of the South Bay area of Los Angeles. In 1962, before he was old enough to drive, he acquired a 1936 Ford 2 door sedan. The car was solid but needed considerable work. Pete and his father worked together on the project, and by the time he was old enough to drive, the car was ready for the street. The mid 1960s were a time when the custom car was still declining in popularity but there was considerable interest in the lowrider and boulevard cruiser type of automobile. These were mostly late model American cars with simple modifications such as chrome wheels, custom paint jobs and a radically lowered stance. As to the lowering, a few brave souls were beginning to install surplus aircraft hydraulic components in their suspension that allowed the car to settle to the ground or be raised to a comfortable (and legal!) driving height -- all by toggling a switch. At least in theory, this modification made for an ideal situation. The idea appealed to Pete, perhaps all the more so because his '36 was older than most of the other cars that utilized hydraulic lifts. A mid 1930s car laying on the ground was almost unheard of at this point. So Pete teamed with an early hydraulic system innovator named Red Pierce to install hydraulic lifts in his Ford, first in the front but soon after in the rear as well. The lifts in the rear were installed around 1966-1967. The early Ford used leaf springs in the front and rear, which presented a challenge, but this hurdle was overcome and soon the sedan was sitting on the ground. This modification alone was unique enough to turn heads but Pete wanted to finish his custom. By this time he had acquired enough skill to tackle a custom paint job. The car was sprayed in a lavender pearl paint and a light cobweb effect was applied over the paint. To finish the exterior Pete installed genuine wire wheels, a rarity at the time, that had come off a Thunderbird. The interior was redone in a diamond pattern tuck and roll using black Naugahyde. The Ford's running boards were also upholstered to match the interior. A Ford Y block V8 engine with Thunderbird valve covers was installed in the engine bay, along with three two barrel carburetors. Pete's clean custom was now ready for the Southern California car show scene and he would enjoy considerable success, garnering a number of trophies over the next few years. Within a year or two Pete decided he would like a Candy Red paint job on his Ford. For this the car was delivered to one of the acknowledged masters of all time, Larry Watson at Watson's House of Style. The result was stunning and extremely well received on the car show circuit. He showed the car like this for a while, before he had Joe Andersen of Joe Andersen's Custom Shop pinstripe it. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Pete's Ford was shown at various Southern California car shows with a sponsorship by Mr. M's Custom Chrome Center in Lawndale. Mr. M's had provided chrome and accessories on the car.
Moving into the 1970s Pete showed the car less but continued to drive and enjoy it. In the mid '70s the hydraulic lifts were removed in an effort to make the car more reliable and drivable and a long overdue article by Neal East and Jack Stewart featuring the car appeared in Rod Action June 1974. Pete only removed the cylinders, and the chassis mods were left untouched. When the car was featured in Rod Action, it was powered by a 312 cu.in. engine from a Thunderbird. The engine was hopped and dressed up featuring extra goodies such as an Edelbrock three-carb manifold, three Stromberg 97 carburetors and Hedman headers. The engine was hooked to a 1939 Ford transmission with Lincoln gears. The suspension and frame were all 1936 Ford, except for 1940 Ford brakes that Pete had installed. The rear had been lowered 3 inches, and the wheels were 1966 Ford Thunderbird wire wheels with Atlas 6.95x14 tires.
Pete became a professional painter by trade, and in the 1970s he was working with Larry Watson, painting high end cars for wealthy customers. Pete worked for Watson in the early 1970s, before Larry moved from Downey to Hollywood. During his career, Pete did also work for Junior Conway. Through all of this he hung on to the Ford and in fact still owned it in 2014. Efforts were then underway to return it to the street, though in what exact configuration remains to be seen. After more than 50 years Pete Limpert's 1936 Ford has proved to be a real survivor.
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