Classic East Coast-Styled 1934 Channeled Ford Coupe Personifies Kool
By Chuck Vranas – Photography by the Author
With regard to the bitchin East Coast styled 1934 Ford channeled coupe was originally built by Jerry Flanagan of Lawrence, Massachusetts. It was the perseverance of Charlie Waitt of Cape Neddick, Maine, that brought the long-lost hop-up back into the limelight. For Charlie it all started with an August 1961 issue of Car Craft magazine where a full feature of the car appeared followed by it sharing a cover of Car Craft in August 1963. Often wondering whatever happened to it led to a quest for the Holy Grail lasting six years. Acting on a whim with help from his nephew Joe Waitt, the pair finally tracked down an address for Flanagan and paid a visit where a knock on the door got the pair an easy introduction.
Have you ever sat and wondered where the many of the amazing show cars from past decades have gone? There was a point in time starting back in the early ‘50s where these rolling sculptures frequented the regional and national car show circuits. It was a time where Armory shows brought together the best of the best, showcasing design creativity and performance enhancements to reveal the ultimate dream machines. You remember, the ones that would keep you up at night as your mind wove so many of their elements into creations you might hope to build at some time.
Many of these cars were truly unique to their regions of the country as well where on the East Coast it was clear that channeled and un-chopped coupes were the rage while on the West Coast it was more prevalent to see fenderless roadsters with a wicked stance and hot mills. With so many of these cool hot rods securing a place in history with their appearances not only on the show floors in competition but also in countless magazine articles as well as appearing in kit model form its puzzling as to how so many of them could have disappeared from the spectrum altogether.
There’s always the possibility that looking into the last known lead on an old forgotten hot rod might bring you face to face with it, especially if someone might have given up on finding it long ago. This is especially possible since you never know what might lurk behind a garage door, in the back of a dusty fabrication shop or even the corner of a musty old basement. When these cars are eventually uncovered there are a number of ways they can be brought back to the scene. For example, they could be presented in as-found condition in a static-styled display, as-found with all mechanicals restored to be driven or in an all-out full restoration to better than new condition.
Flanagan, an original member of the Road Knights Car Club of Merrimack Valley, advised that he still had the coupe and that it was actually located in Northern Maine where it had been mothballed under a pile of old blankets since 1964. Telling the story of the car he related that it toured heavily on the show car scene staring in the mid to late ‘50s alongside many of the country’s best including creations from George Barris, Andy Kassa, and the Alexander Brothers to name but a few. Sadly, during this time, it was stolen and stripped. When recovered, it was redone once again to go on tour when it was photographed for its feature in Car Craft. In its discovered state, the car had been repainted in silver metalflake in ‘63 to prepare it to hit the scene again when it’s interior, grille and radiator had been stolen leaving it in stasis for over 50-years.
With the story of the car’s history having been told let’s take a close look into its many wicked details. To get started the original spine was stripped clean and treated to a 6-inch “Z” in back along with custom crossmembers. In back a stock 1940 Ford rearend is suspended in place by a combination of an original traverse spring and tube shocks. Up front a stock axle with matching spindles meets the original wishbone and traverse spring combined with custom mounted tube shocks, all treated to a dunk in the glitter tank. To slow the beast, 1940 Ford binders do the trick with custom chromed backing plates. Linking it to the street are a 15×5 Ford front steelies matched to custom rear 15×6 wheels featuring wide base 1948 Buick rims with 1948 Ford centers rolling on vintage Firestone slicks out back with General Tire fronts.
Olds V-8 Power
As with any show car its mill gets plenty of attention and here the coupe makes quite a statement. From what we know the 1956 Olds 324ci V-8 was massaged with a Clay Smith cam and milled heads to up the compression to 11:1. It’s topped with an Offenhauser dual quad intake wearing 1956 Caddy carbs crowned with custom air cleaners. Cool bits include finned aluminum Offenhauser valve covers, chrome lake pipes and chromed generator. The goods move through an owner-adapted 1939 Ford trans packed with Lincoln Zephyr gears to push an estimated 375hp to the rear wheels.
To give the coupe its legendary East Coast look the body was channeled 9 inches while the un-chopped roof was filled. A Deuce grille shell was added packed with a custom insert while the fenders were widened, bobbed and raised on the body to accommodate the larger diameter tires. The fenders were then molded to the body along with the trunk lid accented by a custom gas filler. To complete the style updates a pair of 1954 DeSoto PowerFlite taillights got the nod. When it came to the final go-round for paint a dramatic coating of silver metalflake brought the coupe to life making it a standout.
Peeking into the interior, many of details needed to be as unique as the exterior of the car. Jerry started by molding a 1955 Plymouth dash to the factory dash top complete with all the original gauges. A chrome column cradles a 1956 Merc wheel while shifts move through a custom remote-control unit topped with a classic eight-ball shift knob. Vintage buckets wear white Naugahyde accented by turquoise and white door panels and headliner combined with black loop carpeting. We can hardly wait to see Charlie hit the streets again soon with the coupe, channeling East Coast history with every mile! MR