T-Bob’s Unique 1933 Lakes Modified Coupe

You ask: “Huh, what exactly is a “Lakes Modified Coupe”?

Bob Worthman (T-Bob to his friends) explained: “The motivation for the name of the car, and the build, came from the dry lakes.” According to the SCTA manual, a “Lakes Modified Coupe” is designed for high speeds on dry lake racing and falls into the Competition Coupe and Sedan rules.  Among those rules and regulations:

1. The top shall be chopped.
2. The vehicle shall have a full belly pan.
3. The body from the cowl forward shall be lengthened a minimum of 12 inches.
4. The engine shall be set back a minimum of 24-percent of the wheelbase. Engine setback cannot exceed 50-percent of the wheelbase.

T-Bob’s coupe has been built utilizing most of the above rules, however, an article from The History Of Hot Rodding – 1940s and 1950s, by Thom Taylor (August 22, 2013) came to our attention and confirms T-Bob’s version of a modified:  “While many dry-lakes racers used stock-profile bodies from production cars, it’s surprising how early the dedicated race cars appeared, built with modified OE sheet metal or even sheet metal hand-formed from scratch.”

These one-offs were known as modifieds of streamliners. Dean Batchelor’s  book The American Hot Rod describes how, in the 1940s, a modified had the body clipped behind the driver, whereas streamliners had complete bodies aft of the driver, usually tapering for aerodynamic effect — at least in theory. Open-wheeled modified would later become known as Lakesters, and streamliners were now defined by enclosed wheels.”

The abruptness of the coupe body shocks many people as well as the lengthened hood.

So because of its design, enclosed chassis, and belly pan, the car is highly aerodynamic. Not only was this vehicle hand-built, but it was spec’d for its exceptional racing heritage.

Left: T-bob holding the extended hood open. Right: Vintique Commercial headlights illuminate the way.

Starting with modified framerails, a Super Bell 46-inch I-beam was hung, with ’37-’41 Ford spindles and Wilwood 11-inch drilled and slotted rotors for the front disc brakes. To steer the coupe around street corners, a Flaming River reversed Corvair box was used.

Around back, a Winters Performance Championship Corvette-style independent rearend was chosen for its intrinsic beauty. The 3:57/4:75 ratio gear-set and Wilwood inboard rear brake kit, with drilled and slotted rotors, was re-polished to a high-luster by T-Bob and his friend, “Hot Rod” Kenny Feldman at Ken’s shop – Over the Top Rod Shop. Hours went into that set-up to be sure, simply because it’s out there for all to see — plain black paint or powder coating wouldn’t have worked at all! Adding to that outstanding look, US Mags supplied the 17 x 7-inch front wheels and 20 X 10’s in the rear, wrapped around those are BF Goodrich G Force TA’s – 205/40Z’s in the front and 295/45 at the back. Chromed front and rear four-bars keep components in place.

The extended hood makes for easy access to the Chevrolet 350ci crate engine that powers the coupe.

When the running gear/rolling chassis was finished, a chrome-finished Pace Performance GM 350ci crate engine and Turbo 350 transmission package was chosen and dropped onto the mounts.

A Winters Performance Championship Corvette-style independent rearend was chosen for its 3:57/4:75 ratio gear-set.

With that done, the fun part of the build started — fitting and finishing the unique body and grille/hood combo. The body is a hand-laid fiberglass, 3-window-coupe style manufactured by Zipper Motors of Farmington, Utah. To make the car even more unique, the body has been moved rearward on the chassis to accommodate the longer hood — lengthened 12 inches (per SCTA regs).

The hood and radiator shell are one-piece fiberglass and tilt forward via two chassis mounted pins for easy access to the engine and transmission. A full belly pan is bolted underneath. The grille is a Dan Fink curved-bar recessed and polished stainless steel unit! Say that fast a few times! Vintique commercial headlights, with built-in turn signals add to the uniqueness of the vehicle.

Left: Sanderson Lakes-style headers are quite attractive and functional. Right: The Banjo-type steering wheel highlights the dash.

When T-Bob and Ken started to refine the car, it took nearly 18 months of steady work to modify it to their vision. Their additional work on the car included adding a FiTech fuel injection unit to the engine, adding an F.I. pump to the tank, which is mounted under the body below the seating area. The tank is actually two-piece to accommodate the drive shaft and piped together with cross tubes. Fuel filler access is behind the cab and the tanks hold 15 gallons. A Vintage Air front runner system and the accompanying A/C was added, while the exhaust system was changed with Sanderson custom Lakes-style outside headers bolted on.

The dash is filled with Classic Instruments Tetra Series 3 gauge set.

Inside the coupe, a Hot Rods by Dean gauge panel was added to the dash and filled with Classic Instruments Tetra Series 3-gauge set. The Vintage Air Streamline A/C control unit has been placed directly below it. For shifting that T-350 transmission, a Lokar six-inch shifter sits center seat. The center console houses only power window switches. A chromed Motor State ididit shorty tilt-column and a banjo-style steering wheel finish it off.

Left: Seats are leather covered with red stitching. Right: Suicide doors swing wide for easy entry/exit.

The seats, as marginal as they are, are quite comfortable covered in black leather with red stitching. The suicide-style doors make for easy entry and exit and side windows are power, of course. T-Bob wasn’t crazy about the way the upholstery was done so he had F & H Upholstery of Lakewood, Colorado, modify the seats and door panels — gray leather was used to accent the console and doors.

High-gloss black paint is base coat/clear coat. Sequential taillights illuminate the rear.

Moving to the outside rear of the coupe, we find a pair of Watson’s Street Works sequential taillights which are flush-mounted into the body and cleared over so the edges are smooth. The high-gloss black is base coat/clear coat and T-Bob and Ken spent countless hours sanding and polishing it to the mirror-like sheen you see.

From any angle, the “Lakes Modified Coupe” looks great.

Even though T-Bob owns the car, he wanted to acknowledge his friend’s help. “Ken and I have been lifelong friends. Over the years we’ve built several award winning, one-of-a-kind, hand-built street rods and we believe we are of the few that keep old hot rods alive in this age of door slammers and muscle cars.” T-Bob and Ken attend both local and regional shows throughout the summer and are always amazed at how many ‘car people’ they both know at events. With a car as unique as T-Bob’s “Lakes Modified Coupe,” we’d bet there are many more friendships coming their way.

About the author

Roger Jetter

Roger’s interests in cars started at 14 with a ’40 Ford pick-up until he bought his first ’57 Chevy at age 16. That car is featured in the first two books he’s written about the 1960’s and growing up in the Midwest. He’s authored several more books as well and has built several cars over the years that have received major coverage in magazines and won plenty of awards. His current build is a 1948 Cadillac Sedanet, although his current 'driver' is a '55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
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