About five years ago, Roger Spears read an article in the now-defunct “Street Rod Builder” magazine about how to build a classic hot rod on a budget. The story planted a seed in his imagination and a couple of years later it began to bear fruit.
The gist of the article was that you could create a fun “driver” using mostly new parts, a gel coat fiberglass body (no need for paint) and an aftermarket frame and suspension.
That sounded like a good project for Spears when he retired from Black & Veatch in 2010. He started the project in his barn/shop in rural Johnson County. He shopped around and settled on a reproduction ’33 Ford three-window coupe built by N&N Fiberglass Reproductions in Belleville, Ark. The hand-laid fiberglass body sits atop a reproduction ’33 Ford frame with Pete & Jake’s suspension components. To the body and chassis, known as a “roller,” Spears had to add the engine, transmission, driveline, electrical system, cooling system, brake system, tires, wheels and interior.
Spears turned to Sehr Performance Machine in Sioux Falls, S.D., known for their high-performance engines. Spears picked a 302-cubic-inch Ford V-8 bored and stroked to 347 cubic inches. Equipped with Edelbrock’s electronic fuel injection, it generates about 425 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. That’s a lot of power for a car that weighs about 2,500 pounds.
A Tremec five-speed manual transmission mates to a Ford 9-inch differential.
To achieve the perfect hot rod stance of big tires in back and little tires in front, Spears picked 15-inch Classic Cragar S/S wheels. The rear wheels are 10 inches wide and sport huge tires while the front wheels are 4.5 inches wide and hold tires that would fit a Volkswagen bug.
The interior has reupholstered Pontiac Fiero seats, complete with seat heaters that were a “Christmas present” to Spears’ wife, Susan. Spears did all of the interior with the exception of the carpeting that was done by G&J Auto Trim in Olathe.
Spears drove the car without paint for more than a year, but in the spring of 2012 he decided the gel coat would look more finished with paint. He prepared the body and applied a gloss black finish in his shop. He also learned to do fiberglass work so he could enlarge the transmission hump, inset the license plate and lengthen the splash aprons.
Spears is most proud of the “lakes style” exhaust headers with megaphone pipes and internal mufflers. None was available that would fit his installation, so he made his own by tack welding each pipe in place. A friend and co-worker of his son, Ryan, did the final welding and the pipes then received a ceramic coating. As Ryan says, the headers are one of the defining features of Spears’ coupe.
After his car was finished, he submitted a picture to Petrolhead, a New Zealand publication, of himself sitting on the rear wheel reading their magazine. A similar photo of the car alone was selected as the cover image for the 2015 Cragar Wheel catalog.