East Coast ’40
It’s easy to write off the east coast style of the 1940’s and 50’s. Typically, cars influenced by this period and geography are heavily channelled and sectioned with a subtle chop. Once buttoned up, this often leaves you wondering about proportion and line. And being honest, it’s not a stretch to say that often these cars looked better before the process of customization began.
And then there is the craftsmanship of the period. West coast hot rodding as we know it was predominately influenced by fellas that were in the armed forces. The big industry of the time in California was aircraft construction and this discipline lead to highly refined skills as far as fabrication and fit/finish. Meanwhile, the east coast was the home to industrialization. While the industrial revolution certainly spawned incredible creativity, the folks produced by the movement didn’t seem nearly as apt in fabrication techniques. To me, at least, this becomes pretty obvious when studying cars built on each coast.
That doesn’t mean I look down at east coast cars. Rather, I study them with admiration… It’s fun to notice and admire the little details found on an east coast car and mentally compare them to cars that might have been built on the opposite coast. I’ve done this through the years primarily through books. There have been a ton of great publications that cover the birth of our sport in California, but books focused on the east coast movement are much more difficult to locate. One of the books that I have loved since the day I reviewed it in late 1997 was penned by an old Hot Rod Magazine editor and buddy – Arnie Shuman. “Cool Cars, Square Roll Bars” is, without a doubt, my favorite east coast hot rod book ever printed.
When I first got the book, I did a quick thumb through and just happened to land on a page featuring a thoughtlessly chopped ’40 coupe with (of all things) a Nash grille. I instantly fell in love with it. The awkward chop combined with the heavy channel screamed to me. This kid wanted something low, fast, and sinister and would stop at nothing to make is his ’40 coupe just that. It was this rebellious aspect of the car that really spoke to me.
A few years later, I found the car featured in a 1953 issue of Honk! Magazine. The strange Nash grille was replaced with a stock unit and the car was all the better for it. In fact, it was around this time that I started calling this weird little east coast contraption my favorite ’40 coupe of all time. It’s a bold statement, I know… But it’s a personal one. For whatever reasons, I love this car.
I had heard in the past that a HAMBer was currently caretaking for the beast, but I didn’t do any further investigation work. Last week, it popped up on eBay and fortunately, a good buddy of mine was able to secure it. He plans on restoring the car as it appeared in Honk! and I hope to cover as much of the progress as I can. So, stay tuned… You’ll be glad ya did.