The 2019 NSRA Louisville show was a blast. With over 12,000 cars onsite and big crowds, the hot rod hobby is alive and well and as vibrant as ever.
It was almost sensory overload as there was so much to see. Along with the packed fairgrounds, the indoor venue had tons of vendors showing off their wares under the bright lights. Well-known electrical gurus Ron Francis Wiring were there and we paid a visit to check-in with head honcho Scott Bowers and the guys to see what was cooking.
To our delight, we got an up-close view at “The Denkster,” a black and silver beauty built by namesake Ed Denkenberger, owner of Superior Autoworks out of Frederica, Delaware. Ed is a personable guy who oozes knowledge and talent, honed by years of crafting custom cars. We asked about the backstory on the car and he was happy to fill us in.
This is a good primer on how to take a build that might be a bit old school or currently out-of-fashion, and bring it into the 21st century.
Ed tells Rod Authority, “I built the car and debuted it in Detroit in 2014. It’s a fiberglass, 1937 Ford Roadster body riding on top of a custom-built chassis, both built by Oz Rods, which has since gone out of business. At the time the swoop, smoothster thing nearing the end of its life cycle.
“I tried to update the car by nudging it to an Art Deco look and feel,” Ed said. “I added ’38 Chevrolet headlights, ’37 Chevrolet taillights, and fender-mounted ’39 Buick turn signals. I peaked all the fenders and added 1953 Buick Roadmaster portholes as well.
“The chassis is finished in a powder coat, hammertone pattern, with matching engine components. All the tubular-suspension pieces are painted high-gloss to add contrast, and a satin stainless finish was used for brake lines and bolts.”
I painted the car myself and went with the silver and black two-tone, and Jerry Campbell and tattoo artist George Keeler did the charcoal pinstriping and freehand flourishes to finish off the look. Then we topped it off with an OEM Mercedes “salt and pepper,” cloth-covered removable hardtop, with a fiberglass headliner finished in a cobweb pattern.”
Inside, the car is a visual delight. According to Ed, “Rich Perez out of Horsehead, New York, did the interior and trunk in a wine-colored leather. Ed then created a custom rainfall console, speed bumps behind the seats, a cutdown 1956 Chevy steering wheel, ididit steering column, and Classic Instruments center gauges.
“The two top pods match the ’37 Chevy taillights. To keep things cool, we added Vintage Air as well. Be sure and check out the matching footwell strakes that are repeated in the trunk as well.” There are cool bits all through the car, but we especially liked the use of early C1 door handles combined with Lokar pedals.
For motivation, the Denkster is running a Chevy 350 with a 700R automatic tucked into the custom frame running tubular A-arm front suspension, a triangulated four-link rear suspension, and air ride. The thing rolls on Billet Specialties SL75 wheels with machined spokes and big gumball tires, 20x11s in the rear and 18x8s upfront. The “whoa” is provided by 13-inch Wilwood brakes all the way around. Ed fabricated the exhaust and gas tank as well.
Of course, the car was wired with Ron Francis Wiring products. Ed went with the XP-66 GM Powered Express Wiring System with 16 fuses serving 18 circuits.
According to Ron Francis, “We built these kits to fit your custom application. Wiring is included for the complete car, including starter, alternator, most stock GM, ididit, Flaming River, and other brands of steering columns.”
The complete kit will wire full gauge sets including the tach and it addresses HEI, points, and aftermarket distributors for the fire. Other features included are neutral safety switches and all the lighting needed for most safety inspections including high and low beams, indicator lights, parking, turn signal, brake, and third brake light.
“The panel readily accepts fuel injection,” states the Ron Francis website, “The Express has been simplified over previous models to speed the installation. We use high temperature, fire-resistant, color-coded wire with the circuit clearly and legibly printed. A quality headlight switch with wiring is included, as well as an isolated cooling fan relay. Our color-coded instructions are famous. A unique serial number for each kit enables us to technically support the installation to you or any subsequent owner.”
Ed says, “I’ve used Ron Francis products for years. Not only are their products top-notch, they have always supported what they sell and I consider the guys to be like family.”
Keep your eye on Rod Authority for another feature on a build from Ed Denkenberger and Superior Autoworks.