Hard Sliced – A Bonneville Inspired 1934 Ford Coupe
With the help of his father and the family’s ’58 Chevy pickup, Junior Mass towed his first project car, a ’32 Ford three-window coupe, home to their farm in Malvern, Iowa. He found the car listed in the classifieds of the Omaha World Herald newspaper. At that time, their pickup was just three years old, and Junior was only 15, but that coupe was the dawn of a lifelong passion for hot rods.
Over the ensuing decades, Junior has continued to build, fiddle with, drive, and enjoy a significant number of hot rods and cool cars. Today, as a retired auctioneer, he explained that his life plan now is to continue building and enjoying everything and everyone associated with hot rods and his passion for cars, which is exactly what he accomplished when he rolled into the Goodguys Grundy Insurance Colorado Nationals event grounds in his latest rod, a Bonneville-inspired 1934 Ford coupe.
Junior searched for a a three-window coupe for quite a while, as it had to be just the right car. He came across this 1934 Ford coupe, which was built by Daniel Lanning in Tacoma, Washington. The car rocked a serious top chop and was channeled over the factory frame with a classic Flathead V8 for power. It had just the right attitude that Junior was looking for. Over a number of extended phone calls and exchanged photos, a deal was agreed upon and a couple days later, Junior and his good pal Dan Dolan hooked up a trailer and beelined to Washington (a recurring theme in Junior’s life with cars!).
When Junior got the coupe back home in his Colorado garage, he pored over the original sheet metal and details as he made plans to add his touches or, as his wife Carrie calls it, “Junior-ize the car.” Daniel did an excellent job lowering the roof 5-inches in the front with 4.5-inches in the rear, dropping the body over the frame by another 5-inches, and then had the patience to stamp more than 500 louvers into the car before spraying it in matte black.
The original chassis was treated to a list of classic hot rod mods, starting with a dropped tube axle and split wishbones along with a Schroeder cowl-mounted steering box. Out back is a Halibrand quick-change rearend filled with 3.54 gears and for safer stopping ’40 Ford hydraulic brakes were enlisted. To cap off the Lincoln drums, a set of black 16-inch ’40 Ford wheels wearing Firestone 5.00 and 7.50 tread was added, each topped with a trim ring for a touch of shine.
The 255c.i. Flathead originally came from a ’50 Merc and was treated to a set of Navarro heads and matching intake topped with a pair of Stromberg 97s. A Vertex magneto (fitted with an HEI module) provides plenty of spark, with Hedman headers flowing down to a set of straight pipes that stop in front of the rear axle to produce just the right vintage exhaust note.
All along, the 1934 Ford coupe was to be a driver, which explains the choice of a Tremec five-speed transmission being installed using a Speedway Motors clutch assembly. A short-throw Hurst shifter pokes up between a set of legit bomber aircraft seats wearing canvas upholstery and complemented with a matching set of seatbelts. The original steering wheel and column are in place and a few Stewart Warner gauges were added to keep tabs on the hopped-up Flathead. Aluminum door panels were fabbed to cover the hand-made window regulators and aircraft-style door actuators and to enhance the overall vintage vibe of the interior.
One unique safety feature that Junior added is a functional fire suppression system built into the trunk area around the fuel tank. He explained that the windows are too narrow to crawl out of in the event of an emergency and felt the suppression system would be a good idea to have, especially with all the time he plans to spend behind the wheel.
Junior continued to fine tune and fab to make the car exactly what he envisioned with small changes such as relocating the battery and headlights, to bigger projects like building a firewall between the interior and trunk area. One of the most visual changes is the custom lettering and numbers painted on the body by Joe Broxterman of Speedway Graphics. As for the number 77, it’s a nod to Junior’s age when the coupe was finished.
Junior thoroughly enjoys talking to anyone and everyone that stops to take a closer at look at the ’34 and you can just sense his passion for cars and hot rodding after all these years. Keep on rolling, Junior! We’ll see you on the road soon.
Photos by Steven Bunker