Doug Klett Adds a Special Vibe to This 1936 Ford Coupe

It’s often said that if something is meant to be that fate will eventually step in to make it happen. Such is the case for the humble beginnings of the seductive 1936 Ford three-window coupe with vintage 283 small-block Chevy pictured across these very pages. For Doug Klett of Plainville, Connecticut, it was a journey with many twists and turns that eventually brought the vintage steel starting point to his doorstep. Ever since he was a youngster, he spent plenty of Saturday nights shoulder-to-shoulder with his dad at Plainville Stadium Speedway. Watching modifieds wearing early coupe and sedan bodies tearing around the quarter-mile track lured him in with a fascination for ’30s-era Fords.

 

As the years passed there was always a project in the shop, be it a 1940 Ford or a vintage muscle car. Well over a decade ago, Doug decided to start the search for a 1936 Ford three-window coupe. The experience was like searching for a diamond in a pile of sand. He ultimately settled for a five-window coupe instead and began to channel his design ideas through it. The outcome was a wicked hop-up with a ground-grazing stance wearing classic Dove Gray gloss and rolling on steelies to make a statement. While the coupe was downright cool, it still left him wanting more in the form of an original three-window with its elegant flowing body lines.

One night while cruising the web he located what seemed to be an extremely clean three-window coupe. The car was shown in bare metal and was a stalled project that was being offered up for sale. Without wasting a moment, Doug attempted to buy it, offering the owner the requested price, however, in the end, the seller decided to then keep the project. Obviously disappointed, Doug continued to watch for another car to become available. Two years later the very same car was advertised from a different owner for sale but he missed the chance by a day. Undaunted, he forged on for another year when the car was available again from yet another owner. He was finally able to swap cash for keys and get the old coupe delivered to his place, proving indeed that third time’s a charm.

Doug had built the car hundreds of times in his mind and knew exactly the path it would need to take for its rebirth. Once disassembled, the original spine was blasted clean and sent over to Bill Carlson of WAC Customs in Torrington, Connecticut, to work his craft by boxing it for additional strength and C-notching the rear. Out back a 1957 Ford 9-inch rear was refreshed and packed with 3.50 gears. It’s suspended in place by a combination of new parallel leaf springs from Chassis Engineering matched to Gabriel tube shocks. To bury the nose in the pavement, a Heidts IFS was added, featuring their exclusive tubular upper and lower control arms, 2-inch dropped spindles, Gabriel tube shocks, and manual rack-and-pinion steering. When it’s time to dump the anchor, a Corvette-style dual master pushes fluid through steel lines to 11-inch Ford rear drums combined with 11-inch GM discs and calipers up front. To set the stance, a set of traditional 15×5 front and 15×8 rear steelies from Wheelsmith are wrapped in rubber from Michelin and Aurora, respectively, wearing timeless 1948 Mercury caps.

 

With the original Flathead V-8 long gone, it was a perfect opportunity to flex some muscle into the mix in the form of a vintage Chevy V-8. Doug contacted RCE Machine Works in New Milford, Connecticut, to bring new life to a 1962 Chevy 283ci small-block. Massaging it to 287 ci, they filled it with a stock crank and rods matched to forged aluminum slugs from Keith Black while a Chevy 327ci cam keeps the beat. A set of tweaked iron heads make seamless power, especially when topped by an Edelbrock intake with a Holley 600-cfm carb wearing a vintage-styled mushroom air cleaner. An MSD Pro-Billet Ready-to-Run ignition lights the fire with spent gases roaring through Chevy ram’s horn manifolds to a custom 2-1/4-inch steel exhaust with Porter mufflers by Reggie Ruggiero. To move the goods, a BorgWarner T5 meets a custom driveshaft from Anderson Auto Electric in Waterbury, Connecticut.

When it came time to finessing the vintage steel back to perfection and laying down the vibe, the body was brought to Derrick Pesko of Allstar Hot Rods in Waterford, Connecticut, to work his magic. Starting with the roof, an insert from Walden Speed Shop was added, followed by Artie Johnson providing just the right number of louvers to the hood tops. Derrick then massaged every inch of the body as well as setting the gaps to prepare it for a very subtle coating of Axalta Olive Green gloss. Other cool bits include shortened taillight stands, fresh stainless parts, including bumpers and door handles from Bob Drake, as well as the windshield frame chrome by BAR Plating in Meriden, Connecticut. Jennifer Brunoli then added the final icing to the hubcaps and trunk handle in black gloss.

To bring an equal amount of allure to the interior, the factory dash was filled with dials from Classic Instruments to monitor the vitals while a LimeWorks column wearing a 1940 Ford DeLuxe steering wheel from Vintique carves the course. Real hot rods have three pedals, so a Hurst stick pulls the gears for a fast getaway while a kit from EZ Wiring installed by Doug ties everything together. The interior exudes grand style thanks to Mitch’s Kustoms in Monson, Massachusetts, who stitched up a winning combination of saddle brown leather on the stock bench seat while also adding a meticulous touch to every adjoining panel, completing it with complementing square-weave carpeting. The coupe sees plenty of miles on a regular basis, and to us that what it’s all about! MR

Modern Rodding Magazine