It’s not often that you see a 1933 Plymouth coupe, much less one that has been turned into a beautiful street rod, but that is exactly what Steve Branch and his wife, Gail, have done. It is an example of commitment and dedication because it has been through several iterations since they bought it in 1968, just two years after they were married.
“We had no kids when we bought it,” he said, “and now we have grandchildren.”
Branch, 70, of southern Johnson County, said his car has been painted black, silver blue and now gold with brown accents. He has reupholstered the interior five times.
“When it shows age I redo it,” he said.
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The chrome-plated grille shell has a massive presence similar to that of a Rolls-Royce. Originally the grille shell was painted body color and only the lip was chrome but Branch decided to leave it all chrome and he added an after-market grille insert. The visual effect is powerful.
The current powertrain is a 1978 318-cubic-inch Chrysler V-8 mated to a Torqueflite transmission. The suspension has been modified with disc brakes.
Branch has taught himself how to do metalwork and upholstery. He designed and built a rumble seat using the original trunk lid and designed and built the small bumper bars by hand. He has come up with other clever touches such as the 1950 Hudson taillights that look right at home because they are shaped a lot like the Plymouth emblem on the grille.
Whenever he has an idea for a modification, he and Gail ask themselves if it will help or hurt the car. If it helps then he does it.
The interior is as comfortable as a contemporary car because he has added modern heating and air conditioning. He put custom gauges in the original openings. To simplify the engine compartment, Branch moved many electrical wires and connections inside the car under the dash. The circuit board is perfectly symmetrical and each wire has a label.
Branch modified a small trailer that he uses to haul suitcases and tools when he and Gail drive to car shows. The trailer matches the car, and local pin striper Bob Bond painted a small mural on the back of the trailer.
Branch has taken his car to at least 130 shows since 1975, and his garage is chock full of trophies. The trailer has received nine trophies on its own.
What’s next for this unusual Plymouth? If the past is an indication of the future, Branch will find more ways to modify and update his car.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org