Don Richardson bought this rare ’38 Ford convertible sedan way back in 1993. As owner of a hot rod shop, Richardson Custom Auto Body, Don fell into that common trap where customer cars always took priority, leaving his personal project continually sidelined. He realized a few years ago that he needed to focus some serious attention to his Ford if he ever wanted to finish and enjoy it. So, he dedicated every spare night and weekend he could to see it through to completion.
To tighten up the car’s overall design the top was chopped 1½-inches, and the wheel wells were reshaped. The doors were extended to meet the running boards and the bumpers were shaved 3/8-inch. To finish things off, a sleeker ’37 nose was added before the gallons of custom-mixed PPG copper paint and clear were laid down.
The original frame was boxed and fitted with a Heidts SuperRide up front and a Jag independent rear suspension. Diamond Back whitewalls wrap the 16- and 17-inch Wheel Vintiques steelies that have been color-keyed to match and topped with custom caps. Power is a RamJet 350 that’s also been painted to match. Performance goodies include HPC headers, Patriot mufflers, and valve covers from Billet Specialties. It’s backed with a 700R4.
Don crafted the dash and even painted the faces of the Classic Instruments gauges himself before topping the column with a 16-inch steering wheel from a ’50 Buick. The shifter was kept on the column, old school style. This also keeps the floor clean. Like many builders, Don chose to sub out the upholstery, turning to stitch master Ron Mangus. With four doors to trim and a fully functional folding top, Mangus had his work cut out for him but didn’t bat an eye. He also made the custom seats and created a nice suede headliner.
Finally finished last year, Don’s convertible sedan secured multiple Goodguys Builder’s Choice Top 10 awards in 2017, as well as a Top Five finalist spot in the 2017 Goodguys America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod competition. With a Top Five finish for the 2018 Street Rod d’Elegance award in Del Mar, there’s little doubt that time was a winning ingredient for this Ford, giving it a distinguished, comfortable character that transcends trendiness and is sure to endure for years.
Photos by Mike Harrington