The Ten-Year Special
In 1940, Sewart Allen was a privileged college kid living in Los Angeles with a child-like obsession with cars. He was also pretty talented in that he had great vision and decent skills out in the garage. It wasn’t long before that vision took over and Allen started building his own custom roadster.
He started by building a frame using Essex rails. Once close to completion, he began to wonder about a body. He knew he wanted something more than his skill set could provide, so he called Coachcraft LTD. and had both Burt Chalmers and Rudy Stoessel submit design ideas. The Coachcraft fellas won the business with art and began work on the custom body.
What you see here is completely hand formed. No lead, aluminum, or putty was used in the build process. It’s simply perfectly shaped sheet metal. Incredible work by today’s standards, let alone the standards the boys were working against in the 1940’s.
And then the war came along. Allen went off to fight for freedom, but not before Jimmy Summers made him an offer on the project he couldn’t refuse. The car changed hands and Summers continued on where Coachcraft had left off. He formed and shaped the grille and installed the DuVall-style windshield.
While Summers was getting the final mockup together, Ted Johnson stopped by to see the progress. He fell in love and made an offer. Once again, the “Coachcraft Special” changed hands. At this point, the car had always been a kind of side project for its various owners. A little work here, a little work there… Nothing stable for the most part.
Ted Johnson, however, wasn’t farting around. He quickly got to work… Not impressed with the current chassis setup, Johnson cut it apart and added his own cross-members and mounts in support of a Merc flathead. He then added Ford brakes and located a Zephyr tranny. At this point, the car was mechanically sound and Johnson took it back to Coachcraft for the finishing touches on the body work and the incredible laminated dash.
Gordon Cutler of Hollywood, CA painted the body with over 40 coats of Belden Blue lacquer. And then Laddy Jerabeck (also hailing out of Hollywood) stitched up the hand tanned leather interior.
The end result is one of the finest Coachcraft Customs of the time that took over 10 years and $6000 to build.
What happened to the car from then to now is a mystery to me. I can, however, report that the car was found and restored beautifully a few years ago. Maybe the current owner will speak up and give us a lesson.