Building a One Of A Kind Roadster

Part 1: Rad Rides by Troy Builds a One of a Kind 1936 Ford Roadster

By Ron CovellPhotography By Adam Banks

Unless you’re new to the hobby, you should recognize the name Troy Trepanier and his company Rad Rides by Troy. He has been building highly innovative, tastefully styled, and performance-oriented cars since 1995, winning a multitude of awards, including the Ridler award at the Detroit Autorama and the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award at the Grand National Roadster Show in California.

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02 Ross Myers 1936 Ford car a project for Troy Trepanier
Ross Myers, the customer Troy Trepanier is building the car for, has a passion for 1936 Fords. To get the project rolling, he shipped this hulk from his collection.

Read More: 2024 Grand National Roadster Show … First Look At AMBR Contenders

Trepanier built a Ridler-winning 1936 Ford coupe for Ross Myers in 2007. The idea to build a fenderless 1936 was hatched a few years later. This is a body style you rarely see presented with no fenders, since the fat fender body style can look awkward when shorn of its fenders.

03 The cowl and tail section of a stripped 1936 Ford mounted on a chassis table
After removing the floor from the body and stripping all the sheet metal, the cowl and tail section were mounted on a chassis table and fastened into place.

Myers presented Trepanier with the challenge to see what he could do with this design brief, and he had so much confidence from his previous dealings with Trepanier that he allowed the Rad Rides by Troy team to build this new car in the best way they could imagine with essentially no restrictions on the design or complexity. From this point Adam Banks is now in charge of the project and is responsible for most of the work on the project.

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04 The quarter panel of a custom car mocked up at ride height with the cowl moved back
The team decided to build an entirely new body from scratch. Here the quarter-panel is mocked up at ride height and the cowl is moved back 10 inches.

Read More: Classic Car Battery System Guide

Trepanier always builds cars that perform exceptionally well, so Myers knew that that would not be an issue. To keep the Ford theme, they designed the car around a blown Y-block engine, which you’ll see in later installments.

05 18 gauge steel quarter panel being shaped using an Eckold power shrinker and other tools
The new quarter-panel was rough-shaped from 18-gauge steel using an Eckold power shrinker, then refined with an English wheel, a planishing hammer, and hand tools.

Ross supplied Troy with an original 1936 body but after calculating what it would take to refinish and reshape the original body panels, the team decided to use the original body only as a buck, and to form all-new sheet metal for this project, including building a completely new frame. Because of the radical nature of the modifications, they decided to build the body first and then fit the chassis inside it–a very unconventional approach.

06 Dies prepared for the Pullmax machine to duplicate the upper body line of a custom car
A set of dies is prepared for the Pullmax machine to duplicate the upper body line. Here the male die is test-fitted against the original body to check the contours.

Read More: Looking Back at Some of America’s Most Beautiful Roadsters

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The photos tell the story of the start of this adventurous build, and there will be several more installments detailing other key stages in the car’s construction. Stay tuned, you won’t want to miss this one. It’s special, on many levels. MR

07 The top reveal of a custom car shaped using a special tool and set of dies
The top reveal was shaped with the tool shown in the previous photo and a similar set of dies was used for the reveal on the bottom of the body and around the wheel well.
08 Quarter panels and sail panel of a custom car being test fitted for refinement
The tops of the quarter-panels and the sail panel behind the cockpit are rough shaped on the Eckold machine and English wheel. Here they are being test-fitted before refining the surface finish.
09 Welded and finished driver side quarter panel of a custom car with a newly formed doorjamb
Here the pieces for the driver side quarter-panel have been joined by welding and metal finished. The doorjamb was precisely formed from new metal, too.
10 Radically shortened and reshaped tail section of a custom car being test fitted
The tail section of the body retains a lot of the character of the original but is radically shortened and reshaped. It was made in two pieces, and they are test-fitted together on the bench.
11 Rough shaped panel below the decklid of a custom car being fitted against the body
Here the panel that fits below the decklid is rough shaped and tried for fit against the rest of the body. You can really get a sense of the allover proportions in this shot.
12 Adam Banks using an English wheel to refine the finish on a car panel
Adam Banks is using an English wheel here to refine the finish on a panel. Rad Rides prides themselves on working to a very high level of craftsmanship.
13 Smoothed and metal finished joints of a welded custom car
After welding, all the joints are smoothed and metal finished. From the outside, it’s impossible to tell where the seams are.
14 Shaping of the convoluted panels at the rear of the custom car cockpit
The highly convoluted panels at the rear of the cockpit opening are shaped in several pieces. Here one piece is rough-shaped and the fit is being checked against the top of the quarter-panel.
15 Welded and metal finished panel looking like a new factory part in Trepanier s shop
After welding and metal finishing it looks like a new factory part. Trepanier’s shop works to a higher level of fit and finish than the original Ford bodies had.
16 Shaping of the cockpit opening of a custom car using a Pullmax machine
The continuation of the cockpit opening is shaped to fit. This complex metal shaping is done with the Pullmax machine, aided by shrinkers, stretchers, and a lot of handwork. Note how well the panels are fitted together at this stage.
17 New pillar made from 14 gauge steel being aligned for final trimming in a custom car
A new pillar was made from 14-gauge steel to reinforce the rear door jamb. Here it is being aligned for the final trimming prior to being welded into place.
18 Rough shaped top panels of a custom car cowl fitted against the original sheet metal
Most of the rear body is shaped and work on the cowl can commence. The top two panels are rough-shaped here and tried for fit against the original sheet metal. Reproduction windshield posts are standing-in for custom posts to be made later.
19 Tool being made for the Pullmax machine to shape the cowl recess of a custom car
The cowl has detailing on every edge. Here a tool is being made for the Pullmax machine to shape the recess where the base of the windshield will fit.
20 New cowl extension incorporating a hood recess on a custom car
A new section is made to extend the front edge of the cowl, incorporating a recess for the hood.
21 Robust mounts made for the cowl area of a custom car with reworked hinges
Robust mounts were made for the ’jamb area of the cowl, which incorporate highly reworked hinges from a British car. They are configured to open about 90 degrees.
22 Challenging shaping of cowl sides on a custom car using heat and a mechanical shrinker
The cowl sides were particularly challenging to shape. Note the use of heat and a mechanical shrinker near the recesses for the hood. All this metal will be brought to a near-mirror finish.
23 Extension for the driver side of a custom car cowl made in two parts
This is the extension for the driver side of the cowl, which fits inside the hood. For convenience, this was made in two parts, which were joined after all the curling, beading, and detail work was done.
24 Most of the cowl work completed on a custom car in Trepanier s shop
Here you can see most of the cowl completed. This is highly complex work but Trepanier and his crew take it all in stride.
25 The cowl and rear portion of a custom car body joined with a custom fabricated sill plate
The cowl and the rear portion of the body are finally joined with a custom-fabricated sill plate. The chipboard below the body is the mock-up for the custom-made chassis, which we’ll look at next time.


Rad Rides by Troy

(815) 468-2590

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Building a One Of A Kind Roadster.

mr january 2024

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