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Projects 1936 Ford Tudor to 3 Window Kustom Conversion "The Freeman 36"

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by sparkydeluxe, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. IMG_3985.jpg

    Figured I'd share my project for anyone else lacking time, talent, tools, and money such as myself.

    When I was a kid I built a model of a chopped 1936 Ford 3 window Custom with my old man. It wasn't the first or last model I'd built but for years it remained my favorite. Something about the long lines of the car, the simplicity of the 3 window doors, the aggressive and bulky front end, and the heavy rear tail dragging rear end, it just stuck with me, and it grew into my lifelong dream car.

    I was lucky enough to get into a 5 window coupe in my teens but had to sell it for school expenses. Then as I grew older I missed out on not one, not two, but THREE genuine 3 window coupes. I was either a little short on funds or couldn't pull off the shipping. Flash forward to a few years back when I see a for sale post on here for the back half of a 5 window coupe and a tudor that Chris at Salt Flats Speed Shop had been modifying into a 3 window coupe. At the time he was selling the metal cheap because his hands were full working on the real thing, as well as several other high end vehicles for his clients. If you don't know this guy is incredibly talented and this project was dirt under the fingernails of his skilled hands, but it was the perfect start to building a 3 window from scratch.

    IMG_7284.jpg IMG_7285.jpg

    I hopped into my truck at midnight and was at his door 100's of miles away by 6am the next morning. Outside of the back half parts we settled on a few door pieces, as well as a new tail pan.

    For many months the parts sat in storage waiting of the correct tudor donor to pop up. Sure enough I found one on craigslist that the seller claimed to be a running/driving car with a 350 engine, ford 9 rear end, and a 3 speed trans. Jackpot! Or so I thought...


    As far as I can figure the car was built between the time that I called him for directions and the time I picked it up, about an hour give or take. Every single bolt right down to the suspension was finger tight, and although it did run and drive onto the trailer, the shotty wiring caught fire when I went to start it to pull it off. No complaints though as it had the A pillars I needed, usable fenders and running boards, tons of great sheet metal, and a clean title.

    I decided I would start putting everything together when I found a coupe decklid to use as a guide to line everything up. Good luck there. I found a used fiberglass lid and just settled on that. It was time to start cutting.
    IMG_2082.jpg IMG_2083 (1).jpg

    Started by disassembling everything to get to the bones. This is where I was glad it was all finger tight.

    I'm a stubborn S.O.B. and my goal was to build this car 100% by myself, originally I thought I could pull the back half off using just my cherry picker, but despite every angle that was proving to be an uphill battle. So I had to call a buddy to help me pull the tudor back off and place the coupe pieces. This was the only point in the build that I asked for help even though I should have asked several more times.

    IMG_2094 (1).jpg

    This right here was the only reason I bought this car.

    IMG_2096 (1).jpg IMG_2097 (2).jpg

    There was still quite a bit of lining up to do...


    Using my glass decklid as a reference and a spreader I was able to sleeve the body pieces over the frame.

    IMG_2101 (2).jpg IMG_2104 (2).jpg

    After a full day of work the passenger side was kind of coming together, but the drivers side wasn't fitting worth a damn. Keep in mind this was a chopped back half used from the roof of a tudor going on the stock height front half of a tudor, which meant lining these two up was a guessing game that took me weeks to place.


    Pulled into the shop now I was able to finally find a roof shape I was happy with. This was achieved by cutting the A pillars a quarter inch at a time until it looked right. My goal was to have one line where the two roofs met but despite my best efforts they just never lined up and I had to create a gap that I would then fill with other areas of the tudor roof.


    After pushing, pulling, bending, and pleading I finally got the drivers side to line up a little better with the same issue in the roof gap.


    I don't have a whole lot of pictures of the door tops being built but holy hell they were a nightmare...and they're still not done by the way but I think the hard part is done. This roofline is that of a tudor and slants more forward than an original 3 window, which means no door...ever...fits in this gap. So using 4 different doors and testing several bends, I finally was finding the curve I wanted. The entire time I was working on the passenger side I just kept thinking..."dammit, I still have to do that drivers door." but it all worked out in the end.

    Now onto the back. Outside of the reproduction tailpan this car basically had no back end so it took some time to determine where that piece needed to go.

    IMG_2934 (1).jpg

    Thankfully the tudor was able to give up enough metal to fill the large gap


    Using the outer lip of the tudor I was able to somehow get it all tacked in to where it was finally looking like a quarter. Now before you say anything I'm well aware of how thin that patch of metal on the passenger side of that quarter is. It's swiss cheese and I plan to replace it, I just have to keep my eye out for a coupe passenger quarter. Still looks better than a big hole for the time being.

    Sitting on the shelf during this entire process was the model car that started it all...


    It's taken me 5 months but this is where it sits today. The drivers side is pieced together but is not as far along as the passenger as my small garage makes it easier to work on one side at a time. A few of the quarter pieces were created on the english wheel at salt flats speed shop but otherwise no planishing hammers, english wheels, or other fancy metalworking tools were used. Not saying that wouldn't have yielded better results, I just didn't have any. All of the gaps I filled were done by either finding metal that had the same shape, or bending it over my knee or objects I had in the yard. I'm still not sure if I want to fill the bullet holes in the door or just leave them.


    I bought two new whitewalls for the front but the rears I had sitting around, this was my biggest expense outside of the original tudor. I spent about $150 on all of the numerous vise grips and butt clamps I needed to hold it all together from Harbor Freight. All said and done even if you count the miles of welding wire and all the shielding gas, I've yet to hit 5k in build cost, but if you figure in labor at minimum wage I'm into it for about 7 figures.



    It's far from perfect and miles from being done, but my hope is to push others who may not have a whole lot to work with to just START something instead of just TALKING about it and see where you end up. My thought the entire time I was building this car was "screw it, at least I'm learning." This wasn't top shelf original parts I was working with so I had no guilt or fear in making the cuts. Even if someone was to look at this and see junk, it's my junk, and it taught me a lot.

    All of the work was done with simple tools in a tiny garage with the small bits of time I had after putting my two young boys to bed, or on Sundays. Outside of lifting on that back half everything was done solo as until now only about 5 people knew that I even owned or was working on the car.

    For months I felt like I was just spinning my wheels on this thing but I kept going back out there and seeing if I could find or make the right pieces to fill the gaps or make things fit, and one day I stood back and was looking at my dream car! I call it the Freeman 36 not only because that's my last name but in working on it I found freedom from the stress of life. This car reminded me that this hobby can be a lot of fun.

    Attached Files:

    charleyw, 35cab, 40FORDPU and 45 others like this.
  2. Hdonlybob
    Joined: Feb 1, 2005
    Posts: 3,828


    I am IMPRESSED !!!
    Keep us in the loop with pictures and progress.
    Really a nice job and great looking too.. :)
  3. You took on a heck of a jigsaw puzzle - good for you and it just goes to show that methodical thinking, patience and determination can pay off.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  4. rusty rocket
    Joined: Oct 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,612

    rusty rocket

    Nice job. Way to jump in with both feet.
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  5. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,048


    Looks great so far, I love this kind of build. I'm going to subscribe to this and hope to see more updates.
  6. Perfect! Great job and fortitude. The way it should be. :cool:
  7. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 5,949


    5 months ? I've been at mine for 5 years and I'm not all that much further along Sir, I salute you ! Great job
  8. You sir, should get a medal for all of the sweat equity, aggravation, and anxiety you've had to go through during this build. I salute you.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  9. drumyn29
    Joined: Feb 16, 2006
    Posts: 1,607


    Wow, ultra impressed, similar to my willys jigsaw build. Mine took 7 years, I raised a daughter while welding at night or any free minute that I could scrounge up.

    IMG_1814.jpg IMG_2246.jpg IMG_2467.jpg IMG_2556.jpg
  10. hotcargo
    Joined: Nov 9, 2005
    Posts: 305


    looks fantastic ..... dont stop , your doin' great

    Steve in Oz
  11. Capt Crash
    Joined: Jan 21, 2008
    Posts: 108

    Capt Crash
    from Colorado

    This looks great.
    Not to sound like a stalker, but I drive by your house a couple of times a week, and am always looking to see what you have in the yard. I actually know where there is a 5 window coupe sitting in a ravine about 45 minutes from you, that I hope to drag home some day.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  12. You're good, I hear that a lot. I'm glad it gives people something to see on there way in and out of town.
    I know which one you're talking about and it's been pulled out! It's sitting as yard art in oak creek, first right when you come into town top of the hill.
  13. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 26,288


    What a great save! I wonder if someone with a Fordor wants the back of your Tudor for an upgrade. Bob
  14. Unfortunately it's in Ford heaven. There were so many valuable curves and bends in that back half that it got cut to bits for use.
  15. Yep, that's been the biggest challenge, the kiddos. I never wanted it to replace my time with them, so it's been a nighttime project for sure.[/QUOTE]
  16. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 26,288


    upload_2017-8-7_1-57-35.png When I see a save like this one I can't help but remember how many good solid cars we watched wreck Saturday nights at the Danbury Racearena. Bob
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  17. classicdreamer
    Joined: Nov 5, 2009
    Posts: 577

    from nyc
    1. A-D Truckers

    Holy crap. That is nice

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  18. Capt Crash
    Joined: Jan 21, 2008
    Posts: 108

    Capt Crash
    from Colorado

    I am actually glad about that, as I didn't need it. There was also a 35 grille at the bottom of the ravine, I wonder if it is still there. I think it was in decent shape iirc. I also like the maroon off topic car that you have parked out front.
  19. eberhama
    Joined: Dec 19, 2003
    Posts: 670


    I decided I'd like to have a '36 3 window, right around the time they went from expensive to out of this world. I found Chris's pictures of this project over on metalmeet,(when he first started banging on tin, 2008 maybe?) and it inspired me to grab a rough '36 5-window, and convert it to a 3 window. Mine was cut off behind the trunk. I bought a whole tail section from KB cookout, he used to have lots of rear clip parts from 35/36 5-windows.
  20. flatheadpete
    Joined: Oct 29, 2003
    Posts: 9,511

    from Burton, MI

  21. straykatkustoms
    Joined: Oct 30, 2001
    Posts: 11,370


    What a work of art. Very Kool!
  22. slim38
    Joined: Dec 27, 2015
    Posts: 288

    from Sudan TX
    1. H.A.M.B. Chapel

    Sweet! Looks awesome, keep us informed on progress. Subscribed!
  23. chinarus
    Joined: Nov 9, 2010
    Posts: 492

    from Georgia

    Awesome thread - I have accumulated extra door tops and a coupe rear clip thinking it might happen for me some day so this is a great "how to" tutorial.
  24. mike bowling
    Joined: Jan 1, 2013
    Posts: 3,437

    mike bowling

    Great job- the pictures make it look like it went right together, but I know it's a lot of work.
    Keep up the good work! ( and posting pictures)
  25. Right! I sure wish it did, but ya there was a lot of trial and error and throwing and cursing and energy drinks.
    mike bowling likes this.
  26. mrquickwhip
    Joined: Oct 15, 2009
    Posts: 456


    Great thread.......I think it's given me the push to get back on my four door sedan to two door cabrio project
  27. Looking Good. 3 Windows are the Holy Grail !!
    Surf City likes this.
  28. So-cal Tex
    Joined: Aug 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,360

    So-cal Tex

    Great Job, I am impressed.................I do agree with you I am much more willing to cut up a tudor in an attempt to make a 3 window than I would trying to chop a gennie 3 window body because there is so much more to loose if you make a mistake. Everything you did improved the tudor, nice work
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  29. Great build thread. Looks real close to the one I did a few years ago. Keep the updates coming.
  30. JimmyD3234
    Joined: Dec 3, 2015
    Posts: 532

    from PA

    looking kool nice job :cool::cool: its good to see that there still are man that WORK N you to pete

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