What is the ultimate hot rod? Depends entirely on who you ask of course. But for Ed Szymansky, a lifelong autobody worker based in Connecticut, the ultimate hot rod wasn’t something he built himself, but rather a ride built by a friend. “When he decided to sell it, I bought it. I just couldn’t bear to see that car leave the state.”
And what is this car, you ask? It’s a 1936 Ford coupe that, at least on the outside, doesn’t look all that special. It’s true, hot rodding puts a lot of emphasis on customized looks, so Ed’s ‘36 Ford seems a little off, doesn’t it? But we think that is what makes this car so cool; it doesn’t fall within the traditional bounds of hot rodding, opting instead for a clean, subtle look that you can’t help but appreciate. That’s what makes it a real standout at the shows put on by the Good Guys Rod & Custom Association.
Even under the hood, there is nothing truly outrageous going on here. Ed tells us the 327 Chevy engine is backed by a Turbo 350 transmission, which goes out to a Ford 9-inch rear end. A far cry from stock, sure, but its no supercharged big block engine either. Ed’s Ford also has 11-inch disc brakes up front, a custom PPG paint job, and Stewart Warner gauges on the dashboard. A four-inch drop axle up front helps bring this Ford closer to Earth for a road-hugging look.
The modifications are so subtle, they might be hard to miss. For example the blacked-out grille draws the eye towards the nose of the car, which really lets that gray-blue paintjob pop. While Ed bought this hot rod in much the same shape it sits now, he left his own fingerprints on the design, including replacing the bumpers with nerf bars.
And then there’s the white walls. “I just love white walls,” Ed says. “I have them on my ‘61 Cadillac Coupe DeVille too.” Also in Ed’s stable is a 1950 International pickup/rat rod. “I’ve been doing bodywork for 35 years,” Ed explains. “My first job was at my uncles parts store, and when I got my first car, a ‘64 Chevy, he told me if I wanted a nicer car I’d have to fix it. So I did.” Ed, who owns Auto Body & Repair Unlimited in Stratford, CT, has been around cars his whole life, so there must be something truly special about this ‘36 Ford that made him buy it.
The white walls, nerf bars, black grille; they’re subtle modifications that make a huge difference on this pre-war Ford. If you ask us, it’s a fantastic look for this ‘36, which dares to be different by staying mostly stock. In a world where the loudest hot rods are usually the ones with the most absurd paintjobs and over-the-top engines, Ed’s Ford makes a quiet but confident statement; I’m here for the people who truly appreciate a fine automobile.
That’s an attribute that is all too often missing from the world of hot rodding, and Ed’s ‘36 Ford is part of a trend away from the high-dollar, ostentatious rods of the past decade. Instead, it seems many hot rodders would rather let the original body language speak for itself, and let the beauty of these timeless designs shine through.
There will always be a place for chopped roofs, channeled frames, and shaved door handles–but if you ask us, it’s pretty damn hard to beat the looks of the original. A few subtle alterations can go a long way on a car like this, and we understand why a man with class could easily fall in love with a Ford such as this.