1948 Dodge custom
John ‘Chopper’ Katsanis was arguably one of the biggest legends in the Aussie custom scene. Sadly he passed away in 2011, but his spirit and passion lives on through his sons, and the shop that bears his name – John’s Rod and Custom.
One of the cars the he started work on was this FJ Holden. If it looks familiar, you might have seen it at the Victorian Hot Rod Show or when it was featured in bare metal in Street Machine a few years back. The good news is she’s been dragged out, the cobwebs dusted off, and the boys have started work on her again. Between the rails is a Poncho engine sporting a healthy 421 cubes and injection, and the body mods are too many to mention, but you can see she’s not so humpy any more. I’m really looking forward to seeing this truly special car finished off. A special thanks to Carps for letting us share his pics.
Read this great story about a dream.
Written by Kleet Norris.
As hot rodders, most of us have that one car we dream of owning one day. Maybe it’s a ’32 Ford, or a Model A, or any of the other vehicle options that make for a good hot rod.
For Aaron Von Minden, his dream hot rod was a ’34 Ford coupe, a popular choice that’s second only to the Deuce coupe. He’s had many hot rods over the years, but never a ’34.
“I had a pretty good chassis, but not a body,” he says. “I always passed them over due to the price.” His dream started to become a reality in 2007, when he was following up on an ad he saw at a swap meet for some ’34 Ford parts. Aaron made a deal to come and purchase all of the junk and extra ’34 Ford parts the owner was selling.
“I didn’t even know what to do when I got there and saw them,” he says, referring to a couple of very nice ’34 coupe bodies the owner also had in his collection. The owner took note of Aaron’s enthusiasm for the parts he was purchasing and decided he should have one of the bodies, at a very reasonable price. Aaron knew he could not leave without purchasing the body. This was his best chance to own the hot rod he always wanted. A deal was made.
With enough parts in his collection and the body in hand, Aaron now set a plan in motion to build his hot rod. It was important to him the car look as if it had been built in the ’40s, using only available parts at the time.
“I wanted it to have a little patina and wear to it, and I wanted to be able drive it everywhere,” he says.
The first step was to clean up the body and mount it to the chassis. Aaron believes the body was probably an old drag car at some point in the ’60s. It was bright orange and had the cowl vent welded shut, the only modification that had been done to the body when he got it. Aaron chose not to chop the roof, because the body was so nice and he liked the look of the stock roof height. The only body modification he had to do was cut out the firewall to clear the ’37 Cadillac flathead engine and to make the engine’s vintage speed parts more visible. “I cringed while doing it, but it needed to be done.”
Aaron describes the color of the coupe as a gray-blue-black, which he created with help from his background in product design. The chassis for the ’34 was very simple and relatively stock for the most part. The rear crossmember was moved back an inch so the wheels align in the body’s wheel arches better. The rear suspension uses stock ’37 Ford radius rods and a reworked stock spring to hang a ’37 Columbia two-speed axle with ’39 Ford hydraulic drum brakes. The front of the chassis uses a very rare Okie Adams drop axle, with ’39 Ford hydraulic brakes, and modified split wishbones and spring. The transmission is a ’37 LaSalle three-speed, which is a lot stronger than the Ford three-speeds of the time.
Aaron accomplished his vintage-parts goal with the hot rod. The fan belts and hoses are the only new parts used in the entire build.
The ’34 has racked up a lot of miles since its completion. “The car is perfect, there is nothing I would do different,” Aaron says. He often uses it as a commuter from his house in northern California to Southern California, where he recently took a long vacation, visiting friends in Los Angeles and San Diego.
The two-speed rear axle allows the ’34 to cruise at freeway speeds at almost an idle. A lot of the motorists around him give the car a double-take as it passes by with the straight-piped flathead engine growling.
Most people would assume that the coupe’s ride quality would be rather rough, but speaking from experience, it is one of the smoothest-riding hot rods around, soaking up all the bumps the roads have to offer.
Aaron is one of the fortunate ones, truly living and driving his dream.
Found at www.hotrod.com
The first show was organized in 1950 by the Thunderbolts Car Club (their first meeting was at Harry Westergard´s Shop in 1945). The members were arguing who had the nicest roadster. They decided to make a car show to let the public decide who had the nicest. Right now it is the 2nd longest car show running indoor car show in the World and 2016 was the 66th Autorama.
2016 H.A. Bagdasarian Award – World’s Most Beautiful Custom
1940 Mercury Coupe owned by Jack Kiely
2016 King of Kustoms
1960 Cadillac Coupe Deville owned by Jerry Logan
2016 Joe Bailon Award
2016 Sam Barris Memorial Award
1948 Cadillac Fast Back owned by Mike Garner
2016 Fuel Bombers Award
If I had to choose a car for the award. It would be this nice Plymouth
Also very nice – Paul Garland´s 1948 Ford
He is a cool guy and makes really good work
A true survivor from the 50s. With all the kustom car modifications a nice car need.
For sale !
Some more impressions