Doug Lewe’s Classic Roadster: Keeping It Traditional And Classy

There’s something to be said about the classic simple styling of those mid-50s and early 60s hot rods. Those were the days when you took what little money you had to build yourself as cool of car as possible on those limited funds. There were no computer modules to throw a chip into to give it more horsepower. You actually had to get your hands dirty and use a little elbow grease to get it up and running.

This was our thought when we came across this old school roadster hanging out at the boating club outside of Indianapolis. And as it seems we weren’t the only ones that this car was attracting. Trixie (her stage name), wandered up and decided she wanted to see what the excitement was all about as well.

We figured pairing this vintage open air hot rod to this classy lady seemed the perfect fit, so this photo-shoot quickly ensued. After all, we just couldn’t tell a locally known pinup that she couldn’t be around while we snap a few shots of such a cool car, now could we? But since Doug Lewes’s beautifully built classic T-bucket roadster is the true star of this show, we’ll get back to the pin-up model in a bit.

This incredible work of art is owned and built by Doug Lewe of Russiaville, Indiana. Before you say anything, yes we said Russiaville, which is located right outside Kokomo. Doug took this old 60’s fiberglass 1923 Ford T and with some help from a few true old school hot rodders, turned it into a truly classic car.

Seeing this car takes you back many decades ago and you can almost feel the wind in your face, cruising down the boulevard on the way to the drive-in with your lady right there next to you all dolled up in her poodle skirt.

As we walk around the “T” to get a closer look, the one thing that is uniform throughout the entire build is the attention to detail. Every inch of it has been gone over to be sure that each and every part is exactly where it belongs. It has simple yet classic lines which are smooth and elegant and just the right touches of chrome, but not so much that it takes away from the overall style.

Doug credits his passion for the traditional style from the number one person who helped piece this roadster together, his Father. Tom Lewe is an old-time hot rodder from years back and according to Doug, “Dad has been into cars as long as I can remember and has influenced me by making sure it’s done right. He’s also a guy that likes things neat and likes to polish, so he gets to keep the shiny stuff bright.”

Growing up around hot rods gave Doug an upper hand when it came time to get down and dirty. With a lot of help from his Dad, Doug knew what it was going to take and how to cut costs to bring this bad boy to life. Recruiting Butch and Bill Miller to help build the frame, they used 2×4 square tubing, Z’ing the front and kicking it up 14 inches in the rear.

Doug and his Dad then dropped a 350ci Chevy SB motor and paired it with a 700R4 transmission for the drivetrain duties. To spice things up, Doug added some killer custom made straight pipes that don’t have any baffles for exhaust (the sound of this beast will give you chills). In order to plant that power to the pavement, he matched the powertrain to a Ford 9-inch rearend.

With a lot of help from his Dad, Doug knew what it was going to take and how to cut costs to bring this bad boy to life.

As far as that fiberglass body and bed goes, he needed to do a little fab work to make it fit for what he had envisioned for the end product. Doug knew that stock T-Buckets were a little tight for the passengers, so he made the decision to widen it 16 inches in the rear for a little more shoulder room.When it came to the bed proportions, Doug decided to chop off 12 inches to make it sit just right. After adding the suspension, and brake components (disc brakes in the front and drum in the rear), the father/son duo mounted up a set of Coker Classics wrapped around chrome reverse rims with bullet center caps for the finishing touch.
As we all know, the devil’s in the details, and it’s the details that really make the difference between an ordinary car and classic traditional rod. To keep his costs down as the build was nearing completion, Doug ordered the headlights out of the Speedway catalog and then found a set of ’32 taillights which are fitted with 1960 Chevy lenses. With the Ford coming together, his Dad thought it would be cool to use some old copper tubing for the windshield frame and fuel lines (which of course, he polished up nicely).Doug placed an old fire extinguisher as the overflow for his radiator, which is tucked behind a ’32 style grille. In order to be comfortable while cruising the streets Doug’s Mom hand upholstered these almost boat looking seats to match the body color, making it a complete family build.

Again, keeping this build under his budget and proving that you can build a cool ride without breaking the bank, Doug went out to the hardware store and picked up a few cases of flat aqua Rustoleum rattle cans. This only goes to show that you don’t always have to mortgage the house to get that perfect color and style.

Doug has driven this car to hundreds of shows and that’s exactly why he built it; to be driven and enjoyed. This by the way is also how we met Malinda Marshall, aka Trixie. She was hanging out at her booth at a car show we were attending in Indianapolis and after seeing her classy vintage style, we knew she would be an incredible and addition to a feature hoot. Sometime we just get lucky and everything falls into place.

Malinda, who is a 34-year-old mother of one from Middletown, Ohio, has been into the pinup lifestyle for about 5 years now. She told us, “I got into pinup from going to car shows with my husband and seeing how pretty the girls looked.” She entered her first pinup contest in 2008 and got second place. Then in 2011 she took the crown and became Miss Road Rocket Rumble.

You can find Malinda at many shows in the Midwest with her business – My Pinup Creations – where she sells her hand-made pinup girl hair flowers and accessories. She is an absolute blast and loves this hot rodding rockabilly lifestyle as much as the rest of us. In fact she said, “My favorite car is a ’30 Model A Coupe, but it has to have a chopped top and sit nice and low.” Even though Malinda is a “classy” pinup girl, she’s still not afraid to get a little dirt under the nails, and at that we must agree!

Here you can see just how classy this perfect example of a T-bucket roadster really is!

Getting to know Doug and Malinda gave us an opportunity to get a deeper look into the old school hot rodding life and what it’s really all about. Doug told us he and his Father have been in the Road Kings Car Club for about three years. What’s so significant about that? The Road Kings are a club that likes to have fun just like any other club, but another thing they’re really good at is helping others.

Doug and his proud Dad who helped guide his son along the way and put the finishing touches on this beauty.

Every single week they all get together to pitch in and build or work on each other’s cars. They pass along the knowledge of how it was done in the ‘50s and ‘60s which is super important to help keep this hobby alive and strong for generations to come. Just like Doug’s Dad stepping in to help his son build an incredible vintage hot rod that they can both be proud of.

That is exactly what this hobby and passion is all about. It has always brought families together and helped to create lifelong friendships. It’s people like Doug, his family, and his club that make every mile of travel and the long days and even longer nights on the road well worth it to bring our readers the coolest content, and the REAL people that our doing it every single day. Stay tuned, we’re just getting started!

About the author

Robert Mills

Growing up with his parents owning a photography studio, it was only natural for Robert Mills to pick up a camera and begin capturing the world around him and after spending time watching his uncle run his front-engine dragster down the quarter Robert started getting the hot rod fever. He is a self proclaimed "Traditional Rockabilly Rebel" and enjoys combining his two passions in life to help share not only the cool kustoms he comes across, but also the people who bring the kulture to life.
Read My Articles

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