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Projects '59 Thunderbird Radical Custom build.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by flynbrian48, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    In order to keep my build apart from the other (GREAT!) Squarebird build here, and keep it up to date on the new format of the HAMB, here's an update on my '59.

    As a brief refresher if you haven't seen my other build thread about the car(somewhere on the "old" HAMB), it's a '59 coupe, turned "roadster" with the original hardtop now removable and the windshield sunk into the cowl 2". I never liked the original headlights, the way they "droop" to the outside, and the flat bezels, so I recently got a pair of '63 Caddy headlights, complete, and today got the right side roughed in.

    I leveled the bulbs with the ground, which meant raising the outer edge about 3/4" and dropping the inner about half an inch. I extended the front fender eyebrow, and gave it the same "widows peak" as the Caddy bezel. I think the effect is significant, but subtle.

    Here are some photos of todays work.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 23, 2013
    dana barlow and chriseakin like this.
  2. lukey
    Joined: May 27, 2009
    Posts: 668

    lukey
    Member

    That's a subtle but impressive change! Most people probably won't even notice. I like it


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  3. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Thanks, that was the idea. Different, but not "in your face" different.

    Brian
     
  4. Clean and tasteful, well done.

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  5. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Thanks. Here's the car outside last summer, which gives a good view of the top chop and shortened "C" pillar. I may have to re-think the tonneau cover a little, as it's now outside the rear edge of the top by about 6". With the top off, of course it doesn't matter...

    Brian
     

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  6. I like it a lot! Looks more like a sports car.
     
  7. bengeltiger
    Joined: Mar 3, 2012
    Posts: 469

    bengeltiger
    Member

    Looks great! Thanks for sharing the pics.

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  8. Damn Brian I like the paint job. :D:D

    Subtle changes in my opinion are the mark of a well thought out custom. Make people wonder what has been done and preserve the design integrity of the car.

    I like what you are doing with it.
     
  9. Neat ideas with the top and headlights, can't wait to see more
     
  10. Model A Gomez
    Joined: Aug 26, 2006
    Posts: 1,210

    Model A Gomez
    Member

    You need to be careful when you cut the top off a unibody car, I have read several articles about this and there is a loss of structure which lets the body flex too much. Convertibles had more bracing. I like the tonneau cover looks great.
     
  11. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    LOL, the paint job is "calico"! That's what happens when you DA off a three stage candy paint job into two colors of high build primer!. The rest is coming off, but for now, it's still primered and won't rust in the shop.

    Model A Gomez, I appreciate your comment, and usually that is very true. However, turns out these first square-birds had one body shell, the convertible. To make a coupe, the top assembly is an addition, spot welded to the w/s frame and rear wheel houses (via a rather long bracket). The car is as rigid as it was before the lid was pruned off, and much more rigid than most converts. I know, it's been "road-tested" for about 10,000 miles, which what I put on it before putting it in mothballs 8 years ago.

    I think the tonneau is the best part of the car, and it's the very first really BIG sheet metal panel I made, using a conduit frame skinned with 20 ga.

    Thanks guys, I'm excited about the car again!

    Brian
     
  12. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    I proudly showed my wife the headlight treatment last night, and she approved, but she looked at the rear bumper line where it meets the body (HUGE gap and WAY out from the body) and said, "Can't you make that fit the body better?"

    Yes, I can. The bumpers are getting trimmed and tucked, and I've also decided to modify the rear quarters to carry the "jet spear" character line all the way back to the bumper. This is what Hollywood Hot Rods is (sort of) doing to the '59 project they have featured in this months "Street Rodder".

    Brian
     
  13. froghawk
    Joined: May 9, 2008
    Posts: 847

    froghawk
    Member

    Brilliant solution to one of the little design details that look a bit unresolved on the original car (maybe the bean counters wouldn't let them have a nicely sculpted chrome bezel!)

    The top chop, tonneau and removable hardtop are really cool as well.

    Does what a great custom should refine, improve, and offer a new take on the factory design.
     
  14. SteppinOut
    Joined: Jul 19, 2008
    Posts: 542

    SteppinOut
    Member

    Never noticed the downward slant of the stock headlights until you mentioned it. I must have been blind as now it is so obvious. Nice redesign that really looks great.
     
  15. hey man its gonna be good seein a nice kustom rollin around the gulf coast. keep on keepin on
     
  16. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,326

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    How about removing the rear fins? Rounding the upper edge of the quarters over so they match the front.

    Hopefully you are rechroming the bumpers this time?
     
  17. squeaky32
    Joined: May 30, 2013
    Posts: 135

    squeaky32
    Member

    those headlights look awesome. gonna build one of these pretty soon, might have to keep those in mind.
     
  18. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    The fins are the defining styling statement of the car, so they're staying. The rear bumperettes might get chromed, but not the lower pan, and front bumper I like painted, as to me it looks like a rolled pan. Shiny grill, headlight rims, and wheels with bright silver and dark silver paint. Done.
     
  19. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    I thought I'd get the left headlight done this afternoon, but it ended up taking all afternoon to finish up the right side. I "tucked" the fender around the new Caddy headlight, it took quite a while to cut filler pieces to fill the resultant gaps in the fender. The result is subtle, but the fender now matches the curve of the Caddy bezel.

    Taking a step back in time, there's also a photo of the dash roughed in. When the w/s frame was dropped into the cowl, the dash mounting lip went with it. That made the dash 2" lower, which meant the gauge panel didn't fit around the steering column, which stayed in it's original location. So, I cut the instrument and glove box "pods" loose, raised them, and while it's nowwhere near finished, I think it look pretty nice. More defined, matches the humps of the tonneau cover. I'm planning on ditching the foam extensions, rolling the edges of the metal and painting the dash. Body color or interior color, not sure. I may re-do the interior in red and white, as opposed to the current black and white.

    Anyway, here's todays work...
     

    Attached Files:

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  20. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    indirectly, this car is the inspiration for the 'Bird. At Gilmore Car Museum right now.
     

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  21. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,373

    BrerHair
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Watching with interest. That car will continue to inspire for a long time!
     
  22. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Thanks! Speaking of inspiration, the car that inspired the Eric Black artwork that led me to re-do the 'Bird, is in my own backyard (well, 2 miles from here) at the Gilmore Car Museum, "American Legends" showing. Curator Dennis Lesky managed to get this car, along with several other ground breaking, iconic customs and hot rods, for the show.

    Check out the Hirohata Merc, and see how that interpretation of Merc lead to the T'Bird I'm cutting into little bits.http://flynbrian48.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/inspiration-answer-the-door-when-it-knocks/
     

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    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
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  23. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Didn't put a photo of the Hirohata car up, so here it is. Clone or original, I don't know, it's so cool either way it doesn't matter.
     

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  24. BRENT
    Joined: Jun 22, 2005
    Posts: 252

    BRENT
    Member

    That picture of the green squarebird is killer! You must build it!

    Brent
     
  25. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    I'm using a couple of the ideas in my car, but I"m not going to copy it. No skirts, not green, no chrome trim, just like it, only different...

    Brian
     
  26. Torchie
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 1,014

    Torchie
    Member

    Nice job on the bird.
    Wondered if you were going to show up on this side of the board.
    Do you know how long the Merc is going to be at Gilmore. Clone or otherwise I would like to see it. May make the drive before the weather closes in.
    Torchie.
     
  27. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    The show is going for another year and half, although some of the cars will rotate in and out. The museum is open year round, so it' d be a good snowy day off trip!

    Brian
     
  28. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    Sectioning the front bumper ends to tuck the bumper closer to the body. One inch off each side. There's quite a taper on the upper face, which is why the cuts are stepped. Next, mount the bumper to the car and tack the ends back on, so they end up correct!
     

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  29. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 6,363

    flynbrian48
    Member

    I spent the morning out in the shop (it's too nice to stay out there any longer!) and got a bunch done on the 'Bird. After hanging the center section of the front bumper on the car, I welded the ends back on, minus one inch on each side. The sides now tuck right under the (rather odd looking) lip on the front fenders now, instead of hanging out on each side.

    Standing back and looking at it, I thought the headlight was still a little low on the outside, in fact, the bezel didn't quite meet the fender eyebrow underneath, so I took the bucket out, welded new mounting tabs, and rotated the whole think up half an inch in the fender.

    Viola! It's perfect now!

    I'm still deciding whether or not to cut the rear quarters up, and tuck the lower part, behind the wheel, to carry the side spear line back to the rear bumper. It loses it's shape behind the wheel as it is now, I think it'd look nice, like the Eric Black rendering, to carry it all the way back. That might requirer skirts, which would look odd with the Salt Flats.

    Notice the new rear quarter treatment in the Eric Black art, the next to the last photo, and compare that to the picture of my car in the driveway, the fender behind the wheel. This is what I'm talking about...
     

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    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  30. ynottayblock
    Joined: Dec 23, 2005
    Posts: 1,954

    ynottayblock
    Member

    man you're making me want to add chrome headlight bezels to my car now
     

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