Part I: The Fords and the first plan
It’s around 2012, my dad just purchased two 1949 Ford “Shoebox” coupes with the hopes that he and I would restore them. Long story short, we didn’t get around to it for a while. Initial plans were to find a hailed out panther body police interceptor and drop the body onto that frame. Turns out that the wheel base wasn’t quite right, and it was to wide. The engine also seemed sort of anemic.
Here is what it looked like when we moved them into the shop parking lot.
Part II: The new Ford and the New Plan
Fast forward a couple years, while sitting at lunch one day perusing Wikipedia, I came across the fact that the wheelbase of the 1949 shoebox was 114 and the wheelbase of a MN12 Ford Thunderbird that was 113 inches. I mocked up a picture to see what we would be working with in the roughest sense possible.
The width was well within fudging range also. About a week later we were the proud owners of the worst looking non-running 1993 Thunderbird Super Coupe in existence.
But wait! Why would we go out and buy a unibody car and try and put a shell from a body on frame car not top of it? Have we gone mad!? Partially. We have replaced many skins on cars in my dad’s body shop (roof skins and door skins primarily). So how hard could it be to skin two old cars and put them on a t-bird? That was the plan, there are many like it but this one is ours. Without us our plan is nothing, and without our plan we are nothing.
Just imagine this but with more silver bumpers, more bad body work, and plenty of Wal-Mart primer.
Now when mechanics try and do body work, funny things happen. Lines disappear, bumpers don’t fit, windows get left open and small rodents move underneath the carpet. But none of that matters, all we cared about was that we got the engine running with plugs, wires, gas, and a new battery. The mad max Thunderbird got taken on its maiden (and last) drive before teardown and we learned what it is like to be without brakes, almost.
Part III: The tear down and clean up
Possum crap, cat crap, rat crap, mouse crap, and possibly some raccoon crap thrown in for good measure; that is what I found inside the shoeboxes when I cleaned them out. Nasty, nasty job, I should have called Mike Roe. But it got done and I now have a great immune system. We didn’t have to worry about ruining two good cars; these two shoeboxes were breeding grounds for the tin-worm. Windows, seats, interiors all had to go the way of the Dodo. The thunderbird too went on a crash diet. After teardown, it was probably the lightest Super Coupe in existence. Doors are for suckers (the band is for acid-heads).
Part IV: Match made in heaven.
The measurements began and all signs pointed due west. It was spooky how well these two cars lined up. We sliced the right quarter panel, door and fender off of the nicer of the two cars and went to the Frankenstein school of body assemblage. Initial mock-ups looked promising.
The B-pillar will have to move forward and both the A and C pillar will both need carved in to accept the old American iron. We are also going to skin and modify the original Thunderbird door shells to accept the shoebox skins and frames.
And that’s how the car is currently sitting, sliced and diced waiting for the surgeon to come back in to finish the operation. More updates to follow.