Forget those Father/Daughter dances. If you REALLY want to make an impact in your young girl’s life, help her build her own hot rod! That’s exactly what John MacKichan did with this 1933 Ford five-window and the investment in his daughter continues to guide her every mile of life’s highway.
Jess’ dad purchased the body that would become Jess’ car the same year she was born. Jess recalls the body sitting over in the corner of the shop for as long as she can remember. We don’t know exactly when the idea hit Jess’ dad to turn the build into such a bonding element, but Jess remembers him saying, “We’re going to build that someday!” From that point forward, Jess KNEW this car was going to be “our project.”
Jess describes when that “someday” turned into a reality. “We dropped the calico-colored body from the attic the year I turned 21 and the build went until I was 28 or 29.” Like anything worth having, there were trials and lessons to be learned along the way, and Jess spelled out some of the memories and things she garnered from her time working on the car, in the shop with her dad. “It’s planning and making lists, laughing, yelling, and sometimes learning a new cuss word,” she writes. “It’s mockups, little successes, measuring twice, screwing up, it’s looking for that stupid wrench I just had in my hand a minute ago!”
One of the greatest life-lessons learned by building a car from the ground up is the significant investment in time to bring a pile of parts into a living, breathing automobile. Jess explains after many late nights working in the shop, all of a sudden, items began falling from the checklist and at some point, that pile of parts became a car. And what a car it has become!
Enjoyment doesn’t need to be heavily-dipped in chrome to be significant and Jess’ ride relies more on the joy of driving, powered by memories, rather than spit-polish and high-dollar add-ons. Jess’ dad had been squirreling away parts he’d located throughout the years, anticipating the day when they all would come together at the hands of his daughter and himself.
The car converts fuel to fumes through a small-block Chevy engine and the presence of a third pedal in this video hints that Jess likes to row her own gears with a manual transmission. The trusty small-block chevy was treated to tasteful, time-honored hop-up parts and kept low-key for a more traditional look. Finned brake drums, hairpin rods, and big ‘n little Firestone skins on Rocket wheels hearken back to a more traditional time in hot rodding and the spartan, but adequate interior brings the fun without all the finances.
The car has been on the road since 2008, and Jess does have plans for both the inside and outside of her ride, stating, “It deserves an interior, it deserves a paint job.” But she also concedes that a different shade exterior will take some adjusting, as she’s gotten quite attached to the subtle, shine-less hue. Her husband is into the hobby and has gotten used to the car as well. Jess explains that when they first met, he was relegated to riding shotgun. Showing a solid grasp of how life typically works, she explains, “I’ve learned, the first thing you do is make them ride shotgun. Because, if they have a problem with that on the first or second date, they’ll be a problem long-term.”
Of course, the one man in Jess’ life that does enjoy the left-seat is her father. “Every so often, my dad will drive the coupe and I’ll sit shotgun,” she says. “A reverse role for me so it feels odd, but right somehow.” Incredibly lucid words from a capable young lady. The car has proven itself quite capable as well. Since its completion, Jess and her 5-window have racked up some impressive waypoints along their path. “We fired it up for the first time, and after that was the maiden voyage down the driveway, then to the corner, then around the section,” she says. “From there it was road trips to the Goodguys show in DesMoines, Iowa, the KKOA Leadsled Show in Salina, Kansas, and then to the HAMB Drags in Joplin, Missouri. It’s been to countless Vintage Torquefest shows in Dubuque, Iowa, and nearly all of the Hot Rod Hill Climbs in Colorado.” Clearly, smiles-per-gallon is the main goal when this girl and her ’33 get going!
Jess’ coupe goes to show that some memories are embedded in the tangible. The car has been part of the family as long as she has, and has grown into it in much the same way. With so many memories and a deeply-rooted connection to the most important man in Jess’ early life, it’s easy to see how this car will continue to be a valued member of the entire family. If you were to ask Jess what this car means to her, she’d likely say with a smile, “It means the world to me. Just like my dad.”
Jess and her ’33 Ford coupe were highlighted in Speedway Motors’ Employee Rides on the company’s website. Just like their customers, Speedway Motors employees are car enthusiasts and the Employee Rides stories highlight several of those within Speedway who have memories and stories to tell through their automotive passion. You can check out all the Employee Rides at Speedway Motors’ website and check out Jess’ story HERE.