For Chris Longhouse of Barrie, Ontario, Canada, it all started the day his parents handed him his first plastic kit model to assemble at the kitchen table at age 6. It didn’t take the youngster long before he was elbows-deep in the build, canvassing the instructions as if they came straight from the engineers in Detroit. As a teen in the ’60s the streets were ruled by muscle cars and Chris spent plenty of time turning wrenches in the driveway on a number of Chevelles, which saw dragstrip duty as well as pickups that he would race in unlimited off-road races.
Somehow though even with all of his accomplishments there was still something missing. He recalled a Model A hot rod known as Lucifer that possessed a wicked stance and chop combined with a venomous V-8 that finally pushed him to start the search for a suitable body to get started on his first early Ford project. After an exhaustive hunt he finally located a 1930 Ford Model A Tudor body that had been stored indoors since 1971, which was originally from Ottawa Valley belonging to Doug Stapleton.
Having seen the work of local craftsman Rob Purcell of Harrison, Chris scheduled a meeting to talk with him about the project. The pair shared the same ideas for the build of a very traditional look with ’50s-era show car elements infused, so a deal was made and Purcell got busy by first designing a rock-solid spine. Starting with fresh 2×4-inch rectangular steel he fabricated custom crossmembers accented by a dramatic 20-inch rear kick. Out back a Ford 8.8-inch rear was packed with 2.71:1 gears and suspended in place by a custom four-link combined with a Panhard bar and QA1 coilover shocks to soak up the bumps. For the traditional look up front a 4-inch dropped Lucky 7 axle and spindles were deftly matched to custom hairpins combined with a Panhard bar, Speedway Motors leaf spring and Pro Shocks. When the brake pedal is stomped a Wilwood Engineering dual master pushes juice through stainless lines to Ford drums out back and Ford 11-inch vented discs and four-piston calipers up front. Nailing the car to the pavement a set of 15-inch Radir Tri-Rib wheels were capped with nostalgic Firestone/Coker wide whites.
When it came time to decide on the right mill for the project, Chris was drawn to a vintage 1949 Cadillac 331ci V-8 his good friend Terry Cruse offered him. He purchased it and brought it to Danny Peters of Pefferlaw to work his special voodoo on it. Machined and massaged to perfection it was filled with a stock crank linked to matching rods topped with a fresh set of slugs from Speedway Motors. An Isky cam sets the beat while power comes from a set of tweaked 1955 Cadillac heads while an Edelbrock intake wears a trio of Edelbrock 94-series carbs to suck down premium fuel. Spark lights through a stock distributor with PerTronix internals and gases dump via a set of custom-fabbed headers fashioned from 1935 Ford driveshaft tubes. To move the goods a vintage Ford Top Loader four-speed by Dwight Cook meets a custom driveshaft.
Since the body was relatively solid Purcell got busy by first channeling it 5 inches and then masterfully chopping the lid 3 inches, giving it perfect proportions. He followed by filling the roof using a Volvo station wagon roof section for a graceful crown while also drilling the visor, adding a Hagan Street Rods fuel door and fabricating new floors. Chris then got busy adding his own personal touch out back by designing a custom recessed license plate pocket. Once the body was gapped and metal finished it was handed over to Paul Maw of Minesing to block it to perfection and lay down a dramatic coating of Valspar Shockwave Blue Pearl bringing the project to life. Chris then handled the reassembly at his home shop adding details like 1934 Ford headlights and 1949 Ford taillights with just enough plating by Cambridge Chrome for dazzle.
To bring classic Cadillac design to the interior Purcell fitted a 1949 Cadillac dash and insert along with dials from Auto Meter while a Mooneyes steering wheel carves the course and a Hurst shifter pulls gears. For comfort, vintage MG seats were treated to vibrant white vinyl pleats by Greg Gisborne of Barrie who also fabbed the custom door panels and console covering them in matching material and laying out the deep blue pile carpeting. This is one hot rod with plenty of style and attitude balanced with just enough vintage power to give it lots of go once it hits the streets, and we dig it!
Modified version of article originally found at www.hotrod.com
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