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Projects Tony Miller's Custom 40 Ford Convertible

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by DRD57, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    Tony and I have thrown a few photos of this on the thread titled ""Tease". Here's all the updates on the project from the beginning until now.

    Enjoy.

    [​IMG]

    We're working on this project for Tony Miller. His vision began with the notion that the 40 Ford convertible is pretty
    much the ugly duckling of that model year (apologies to lovers of 40 Ford convertibles) and it would be much improved if it
    had the roof and side glass from a 46 convertible. He collaborated with a photoshop artist and came up with the rendering
    above.

    Since 40 and 46 convertibles are rather expensive cars to be chopping up that was the end of the exercise until someone
    suggested that the effect could be accomplished by putting a Carson style top on a coupe. About that time a coupe project
    car became available for a reasonable price and the project progressed from paper to steel.

    In the process of working on the rendering Tony added several other modifications to improve the overall profile, stance
    and proportions of the car. These include a two and a half inch channel, moving the front wheels and wheel wells forward
    two inches, lowering the car, radiusing the fenders, chopping the windshield, and a few other changes along the way.

    [​IMG]
    This is what we started with. It came with a truckload of parts that included all the fenders, doors, hood, truck lid,
    most of the other bits to make a 40 Ford coupe. It had a 302/C4 engine/trans combo and already had a M2 front suspension
    installed as well as parallel leaf springs in the rear. We'll keep the suspension with some modifications to get it long
    and low.
    [​IMG]
    We'll start by cutting all this M2 stuff off the front of the frame so we can mount it higher to get the car lower and
    farther forward to lengthen the wheelbase.
    [​IMG]
    Here the top parts are removed
    [​IMG]
    The crossmember is loose, notched and is positioned two inches higher and two inches forward
    [​IMG]
    The top of the cross member is trimmed flush with the top of the frame
    [​IMG]
    The top pieces are re-positioned two inches higher
    [​IMG]
    Gussets are added to the top pieces
    [​IMG]
    The suspension pieces were test fit for clearance
    [​IMG]
    The bottom of the frame needed notches for lower control arm clearance as well as clearance for the steering rack
    [​IMG]
    Now the lower control arm has complete travel
    [​IMG]
    More gussets were added and the whole thing welded up
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
    LOU WELLS and mgtstumpy like this.
  2. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    [​IMG]
    Back on its wheels
    [​IMG]
    To get the back in the weeds we moved the leaf springs inboard of the frame rails and then built a generous "C" notch in
    the frame. Here's the beginning pattern for the notch
    [​IMG]
    I didn't take pictures as we built these front spring hangers to mount the springs inboard of the frame
    [​IMG]
    The rear crossmember that mounts the shackles at the rear of the leaf springs
    [​IMG]
    A shock absorber cross member was added between the notches on the frame
    [​IMG]
    The shocks are replaced with straps during construction to keep the springs loaded at ride height
    [​IMG]
    The suspension modifications are essentially done and now we can move ahead with body mods
    [​IMG]
    The car will sit very low with plenty of suspension travel
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    As you can see from these two pictures the floor was pretty much toast.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Fortunately. the project car came with a set of replacement floor panels...
    [​IMG]
    ...and a pair of replacement door sills
    [​IMG]
    We started by bracing the body with one inch square tubing to keep in in alignment when we started cutting the floor out
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    More bracing
    [​IMG]
    Since the project design called for sectioning the car two and a half inches and we were replacing the floor anyway, we
    decided to take the two and a half right off the bottom and install the floor that much higher that stock. We added these
    temporary body mounts to several spots and bolted the body back on the frame without a floor. that would allow us to build
    the new floor right on top of the frame.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Somewhere along the way we decided to ditch the C4 and use an AOD. We made the transmission tunnel as close to the
    transmission as possible to preserve as much interior room as we could
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
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  3. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    [​IMG]
    At this point the interior floor is mostly complete and we can move on to the quarter panels
    [​IMG]
    With the floor modifications complete, the body is now two and a half inches lower than before. The running boards,
    bumpers, and fenders on the other hand are still in their stock relationship to the frame. So, the areas where the fenders
    meet the body must be reconstructed.
    [​IMG]
    The transition piece between the trunk and fender used to be at about a 45 degree angle. Now it needs to be nearly
    horizontal.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    We'll start by fabricating a new lip for the fender to bolt to.
    [​IMG]
    Cut away metal that won't be used
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    We made some cardboard templates for the new pieces
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Next up is fabricating the metal pieces. Due to the length and compond curves it was faster to make it in several pieces
    [​IMG]
    Most of it welded up
    [​IMG]
    The old tail panel was beat to death and to make matters worse it was already a replacement panel that was just booger
    welded right over the original, also beat to death, tail panel. Since we need it sectioned by two and a half inches anyway
    and we had a nice repop panel in the parts pile, the old one was cut completely out.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    It took quite a bit of cutting and fitting of the new tail panel to get the curves to work
    [​IMG]
    With the left side done now we get to do it all over again
    [​IMG]
    The tail panel will still require some metal work when we get to the bodywork phase but, it's generally the right shape and
    will do just fine for now
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
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  4. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    [​IMG]
    With the springs moved in and up, the tire is really tuckud up there in the fender
    [​IMG]
    Once again I didn't have the camera busy while I was. We finished up the floor, including the trunk floor and rear
    fender wells. The fender wells are big enough to contain 235R15 tires without any clearance issues. The trunk floor
    was formed as close as possible to the frame and cross members below it to maintain as much trunk space as possible.
    [​IMG]
    The tool tray in the back will get a flat cover when the trim work is done.
    Like the quarter panels, the hood has to be modified to work with the fenders that are in the stock relationship
    to the frame and the cowl that is two and half inches lower than it was originally. We will section it roughly two and
    a half inches. the final dimension will be determined by eyeball engineering or how it looks best.
    [​IMG]
    we started out by bracing the inside of the hood.
    [​IMG]
    The bracing allows the bottom "half" to maintain it's shape when we cut it in two.
    [​IMG]
    We test fit the top half to the car to see if anything else needs to be trimmed.
    [​IMG]
    Same with the bottom half.
    [​IMG]
    Now we set the top half inside the bottom half.
    [​IMG]
    This shows how much mis-alignment we are going to have to deal with in re-connecting the two pieces.
    [​IMG]
    Now we begin aligning the two pieces so they look "right"
    [​IMG]
    The tape line follows the body line and must flow smoothly from end to end
    [​IMG]
    Here we have the top of the hood shimmed to the proper height
    [​IMG]
    Here we are beginning to cut and bend the edges of each piece to blend to the other
    [​IMG]
    After tacking it together we pulled the hood back off to weld it up.
    [​IMG]
    Welding it up consisted of connecting a buzillion individual tack welds done intermittently to control the heat
    and prevent distortion.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
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  5. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    [​IMG]
    The outside's all welded up and smotthed out. We still have to add a little triangle shaped patch on the bottom sides.
    [​IMG]
    We finished the inside smooth too since it will be visible when the hood is up.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Back on the car to see how it looks.
    [​IMG]
    Sectioned 40 Fords always look a little odd to me because when the hood is sectioned and the grille left the stock height,
    it disturbs the proportions between the two. With that in mind we added an inch to the bottom lip of the hood and we intend
    to take an inch out of the grille height when we get to that phase of the project to preserve the original hood/grille
    proportions.
    [​IMG]
    With the front suspension and wheels moved forward two inches, we now have to move the hole in the fender a like amount.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Here we have cut a new radius on the fender, added a patch to the back of the opening and mocked up some clay to get an
    idea of how we want to modify the lower front corners. We also swapped the brake rotors out for some with 5 lugs so we could
    use proper sized tires.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The fender lip was fabricated using half inch, .067" wall steel tubing. A little hard to bend but, quite strong once
    welded in.
    [​IMG]
    New sheet metal was added to the lower front of the fender.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    All tacked in
    [​IMG]
    The rear fender radius was cut the same way as the front and a new lip was formed using the same tubing.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Once it was all welded up and ground smooth we squirted a little primer on it and fitted the "real" wheels and tires for
    a few glamour shots
    [​IMG]
    Looks pretty good huh? Almost looks like you could take it for a scream but, we're just getting started.
    Somewhere along the way we discovered that convertible doors are six inches longer than coupe doors. To maintain proper
    proportions for a convertible, Tony decided to make the switch. Convertible doors are kind of thin on the ground.
    Luckily, sedan doors are about the same length and Tony was able to score a pair of those for reasonable money.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
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  6. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    [​IMG]
    The swap involved cutting the rear door jamb on the quarter panel and moving it back about six inches.
    [​IMG]
    To get the door gaps close we actually made spacers and welded the jamb to the door first and then welded the jamb to the
    quarter panel. Once that was done the tack welds and spacers holding the jamb and the door together were removed.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The stock height sedan doors had to be sectioned two and a half inches between the hinges and the front door jambs had
    to have the bottom hinges moved up.
    [​IMG]
    Inside door shot showing the re-positioned brace.
    [​IMG]
    About this time Tony showed up for a visit. Since he was happy with how it all looked so far
    I cut the top off right before his eyes.
    [​IMG]
    There's still quite a bit of work to do on the doors to get rid of the sedan and make them convertible.
    [​IMG]
    We'll start with a patch to the "A" pillar side of the door.
    [​IMG]
    Then a patch for the "B" pillar side of it.
    [​IMG]
    And since we're on a roll, we'll make one for the front part of the quarter panel. This one was a little tricky because
    the outside edge has a bow to it and the inside edge has a 90 degree bend. I did it by rolling the curve first, then
    shrinking the edge that would get the 90 degree bend, that gave me the bow that I needed. Then I trimmed the shrunken edge
    straight and bent the 90 degree bend in a small bench top sheet metal break.
    Next up we're going to work on the windows and the top profile. The first step will be mocking up the side glass to get the
    overall shape and the windshield angle determined.
    [​IMG]
    We started with some cardboard window templates and just started cutting and fitting until it looked like the car in the
    rendering.
    [​IMG]
    We re-shaped the left side vent window to our desired height and windshield angle.
    [​IMG]
    Then we started mocking up the windshield post with magnets to see how it was going to fit.
    [​IMG]
    Finally we mocked up some side glass profiles to see how that looked.
    [​IMG]
    With the door top finished and some primer on the door we can proceed with the window and top mock up without the
    distractions of the unfinished door drawing our eyes away from the task at hand.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  7. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    [​IMG]
    The mock up window frames back in place.
    [​IMG]
    Here we have taped and zip tied cardboard behind the window frames to begin the top profile mock up.
    [​IMG]
    Nothing high tech here, I just taped the rendering to the cardboard and started drawing on it with a pencil.
    [​IMG]
    Once we were happy with the shape, I trimmed the excess cardboard off.
    [​IMG]
    For a final shot, I blacked out the cardboard "windows".
    With the window and top shapes determined, now we can proceed with fabricating a convertible windshield frame.
    Since we don't have any 40 or 46 convertible windshield frames or side glass to use we decided to use parts from
    a 51 Victoria. That may seem like an odd choice at first but, there are a few reasons why it makes sense. The 51 Victoria
    side windows operate in the same way as the 46 convertible. They will have to be re-shaped but the mechanism is the right
    configuration for our project. Also the 51 Victoria windshield frame is actually the same as the 51 convertible, it just has
    the hard top bolted on top. Again it will have to be chopped and narrowed for our installation. These pieces do present a
    few challenges though.
    [​IMG]
    The first challenge is that the cross section of the 40 and 51 "A" pillars are quite different.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The next thing we noticed is that the pinch weld depth for the windshield rubber is different between the two years.
    [​IMG]
    The angle of the 40 "A" pillar and the angle of our modified vent window is different.
    [​IMG]
    And finally, the shape of the 51 "A" pillar and the 40 is a bit different.
    [​IMG]
    We decided to use as much or the 51 "A" pillar as possible and cut down into the 40 cowl to make the transition there.
    The plan is to separate the 51 pieces, that is the front sheet metal, the inner structure, and the rear sheet metal.
    We will then chop and narrow the front sheet metal pieces and install them on the car to get profile and angles set.
    Then we will built a new inner structure out of tubing. Next up will be to replace the pinch weld for the windshield rubber
    and finally we will chop and narrow the rear sheet metal pieces. Later on we will modify the Garnish moulding that covers the
    windshield rubber on the inside of the car.
    [​IMG]
    Here we began fitting the "A" pillar to the cowl.
    Then we moved to a new shop and finished the door top before proceeding.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  8. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    [​IMG]
    The "A" pillar has been chopped to the desired height...
    [​IMG]
    ...and is held in place at the proper angles. It's now ready for fitting to the cowl.
    [​IMG]
    Patched and welded in.
    [​IMG]
    At the rear you can see that we're just working with the front sheet metal at this point.
    [​IMG]
    I made a cardboard template to use on the other side to make sure I get the angles the same.
    [​IMG]
    Using the cardboard template from the left side and the steel vent window template I was able to place the chopped right
    side "A" pillar in place and attach a piiece of rod to help hold it in place.
    [​IMG]
    Stand back and eyeball everything to make sure it looks right.
    [​IMG]
    Now we start fabbing the transition pieces between the "A" pillar and the cowl.
    [​IMG]
    I added a piece of 1" sqaure tubing between the two "A" piller pieces. It's angled in the middle to match the angle in the
    middle of the cowl. Then the center pieces of the winshield frame were trimmed and welded in.
    [​IMG]
    Once it was all welded up and ground smooth it looked pretty good although it looks a little thin in the middle. We'll
    address that when we do the rust repair to the top surface.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
    LOU WELLS and bent metal like this.
  9. Ole_Red
    Joined: Jul 29, 2009
    Posts: 585

    Ole_Red
    Member
    from 206, WA

    im calling shenanigans!
     
  10. DD COOPMAN
    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,123

    DD COOPMAN
    Member

    Patience! It keeps the up-coming stuff un-interrupted. This should be GOOD! DD
     
  11. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    [​IMG]
    Here's the tubular inner structure that we added to replace the sheet metal pieces that were in the 51 windshield frame.
    [​IMG]
    When we replaced the rusty metal on the top of the frame, we added about a quarter inch in the center to make the thickness
    of the top of the frame more consistent from side to side. In this shot you can also see that we have begun fabrication of the
    new pinch weld.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    In these shots you can see where the pinch weld piece is welded to the tubing for additional strength.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Now we begin re-constructing the inside sheet metal pieces.
    [​IMG]
    Kinda looks like a porcupine with all those clecos in it.
    [​IMG]
    We bolted the dash in place so we could make a smooth transition from the windshield frame to the dash.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    All welded up and ground smooth.
    [​IMG]
    With the tubing inner structure it's plenty strong

    That's all for now.
     
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  12. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,408

    DRD57
    Member

    Yeah, what he said.
     
  13. Royalshifter
    Joined: May 29, 2005
    Posts: 15,258

    Royalshifter
    Moderator
    from California

    Gosh darminet that is badass.....I envy you Tony.
     
  14. daddy_o's_diner
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,672

    daddy_o's_diner
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    WOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!

    This IS gonna be good!!!




    .
     
  15. couverkid
    Joined: Mar 30, 2007
    Posts: 1,122

    couverkid
    Member

    Thanks for the roof, my dad ended up with the roof off this car. Will help out a car he has alot.
     
  16. Amazing lines Don. See you again on the salt this summer!
     
  17. captainjunk#2
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 4,175

    captainjunk#2
    Member

    man that s patience and a lot of fabrication , and welding , will have to keep watching this one
     
  18. general gow
    Joined: Feb 5, 2003
    Posts: 6,121

    general gow
    Moderator
    Staff Member

    as my son used to say when he was 11, "wowwie, wow, wow!"
     
  19. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,749

    50Fraud
    Member

    Really good review, Don. Thanks!!
     
  20. DD COOPMAN
    Joined: Jul 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,123

    DD COOPMAN
    Member

    Damn, UNBELIEVABLE tin-work, and vision, but one of the most amazing aspects of what you've done is the end-result of moving the front axle forward and the re-contour of the wheel opening. This has "corrected" the only thing about a '40 that it should never have left the factory with.......BEAUTIFUL! DD
     
  21. Well you damn sure got my attention. Can't find anything to argue with so far, just can't wait to see it with a cap on it's head.
     
  22. GaryB
    Joined: Dec 19, 2008
    Posts: 3,533

    GaryB
    Member
    from Reno,nv

    awesome transformation, gotta watch this one...
     
  23. 58Lincoln
    Joined: Jun 19, 2007
    Posts: 278

    58Lincoln
    Member
    from Chico, CA

    Quite a vision!!

    A tremendous amount of thinking and planning!!

    And a TREMENDOUS amount of work and metal fabricating skills!!

    I really look forward to following this build!!

    WOW!!!!!!

    Would love to see it in the flesh!!

    :D
     
  24. WOW!!! Now you have me thinking about the spare rough coupe body i have.
     
  25. koolkemp
    Joined: May 7, 2004
    Posts: 6,003

    koolkemp
    Member

    I have been eagerly awaiting this thread since the 1st batchof pics was just a tease :D I love the lines on this car...as soon as I saw the longer doors mocked up I was hooked! Fantastic build pics as well...lots of great detail and explanation of some 1st class metalwork .Thanks for posting and keep up the great work!!
     
  26. shoprat
    Joined: Dec 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,463

    shoprat
    Member Emeritus
    from Orange, CA

    Not only a metal man, but an artist as well. Beautiful.
    Tony you got an eye for neat shit.;):rolleyes::cool:
     
  27. I sure agree, this will be great. Thanks for the update - onward.
     
  28. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,149

    Malcolm
    Member
    from Nebraska

    Man, you've got a TON of work into this so far, Don... What a great concept and build. Thanks for sharing it with us!



    Malcolm
     
  29. Cutlassboy68
    Joined: Dec 3, 2011
    Posts: 599

    Cutlassboy68
    BANNED
    from Boone, Nc

    Its looking awesome!! why stop? get working so we can see more!
     
  30. HotRodDaddy-O
    Joined: Oct 20, 2006
    Posts: 637

    HotRodDaddy-O
    Member

    GENIUS.

    Thank you for taking the time to post the pics and explain the work involved.
    I really dig threads like this. Simply AMAZING!
    I can't wait to see more of your work and how it eventually turns out.
     

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