17 July 2015

What Drives You: A Krash course on life with hot rods

(Editor’s Note: From pearl, metallic flake and candy-colored paint to modified small-blocks, big-blocks and flathead V-8s, the proud owners of custom cars are opening up their throttles and bursting forth with their classic build stories. Join us as we get down to the nuts and bolts of these builds and tell the stories of car builders worldwide — finding smiles and unforgettable memories behind the blood, sweat and tears. If you have a custom with a great story and would like to be considered for our “What Drives You” series, contact Tara Hurlin at thurlin@hagerty.com.)

The garage is a place where boys become men; it’s where many learn to cuss, spit and siphon gas, and it’s where they learn how to keep their cars on the road all by themselves. A large chunk of Krash Vegas’ childhood was spent in the garage with his dad, who grew up in the era when the 1932 Ford was —and still is to many — the crown jewel of hot rods. On the other hand, being from a different time, Krash still believes that a Hemi Road Runner is king, and every car he ever drew as a kid had the number 43 on the door.

“My dad is the one responsible — or to blame — for my car addiction. He is the whole reason I ever learned anything about cars,” Krash said. “Dad would always say, ‘If you’re going to own it, you better know how to fix it.’ That is how it worked at our house.” Krash recalls spending weekends at home due to a broken-down car on more than one occasion.

For as long as he can remember, Krash wanted a three-window coupe: a 1941 Willys, 1939 Zephyr or a 1932-‘36 Ford, it didn’t really matter — he just knew that there was something special about them. He had been busting his knuckles on a 1957 Chevrolet pro street project, which was the result of a trade. “I got the short end of the stick in that deal,” said Krash. After nearly two years and almost every piece of sheet metal replaced, Krash was finally about to be on the road. In the midst of the early morning darkness and with the headers wide open, he managed to find his way to the muffler shop through the back roads and waited for them to open.

Just as the Chevy was halfway up the lift, his phone rang. It was his dad, and he happened to be standing in a random field ogling the remnants of a 1935 Ford three-window coupe. It had no floor or frame, the firewall and cowl had been butchered, and the body was rotted 6-inches up all the way around. “It was perfect,” Krash exclaimed. After he overcame a brief case of sticker shock, he told his dad he would pay the price, and he would sell the Chevy to help fund the project. It only took a few phone calls and the Chevy was sold before it came down off the lift. Krash took it for one last drive from the muffler shop to the new owner’s house.

“Dad works faster than anyone when it comes to locating parts,” Krash said. He had located a mostly complete 1935 four-door sedan donor car within a week. A few more phone calls yielded a shopping list, and then Krash was on the phone with every parts house in the country as he watched his stack of cash from the 1957 Chevy sale wither away.

Krash’s dad wasn’t only a parts finding guru; he wasted no time in sawing off the four-door sedan’s body so the coupe could have a new cowl and floor. The running boards and front end from the four-door completed the coupe’s missing pieces, and soon it was rolling freely on a triangulated four-link Ford Granada rear-end and a Mustang II front end. As more parts arrived, it was decided that a 427-cid tall-deck big-block Chevy engine would be the power plant; it fit nicely in the engine compartment. The new engine and rear tail pan made the old coupe look complete again.

With the car up on four wheels and all the grueling dirty work done, it was time for Krash to jump in and get the beast road-ready. He needed to have the wheels and tires on to get a grasp on the inspiration to keep going. “If I lose the vision, I lose the inspiration to keep working,” he said. So, the first order of business was to call Wheel Vintiques. “They were super helpful and asked for progress photos of the old coupe, and I was happy to oblige,” Krash said, “I love to take progress pictures of my cars.”

Since Krash’s dad regularly made a point of hitting the Pomona Swap Meets as often as possible, Krash decided to tag along and search for an intake for the 427. “After spending the night in a sleeping bag on the wood floor of an enclosed car trailer with a few other snoring geezers, the hunt proved successful and I found exactly what I was looking for,” he said.

Finally back home and with the new intake installed, it was almost time to take the car out for the maiden voyage to its first local meet in Dallas, Texas. As it turned out, dear ol’ Dad found a 1936 Ford three-window coupe project just a few weeks before the meet, so he decided to make the trip down.

There they were, one 1935 three-window and one 1936 three-window sitting side-by-side in the blazing Texas sun. They drew quite a crowd, and while the 1936 with the original flat-head engine was for sale, Krash’s BBC-powered 1935 was not. “This ‘not for sale’ thing didn’t seem to register with one particular gentleman who continually decided to harass me about a price,” said Krash. He kindly explained that the car was not for sale because it was a childhood dream and a sentimental father/ son project, and he just couldn’t part with it. “He still did not understand the attachment that we car people have to our vehicles,” Krash said. “I finally quoted a price that was so unreasonable that he stomped away, very upset.”

Later that same day, Krash’s dad sold his 1936 Ford. Ironically on the way home, Krash’s 1935 had an electric fan relay failure that caused it to overheat and blow the upper radiator hose off the intake manifold. It happened in just a matter of seconds, leaving them stranded on the side of the road. To top it off, Krash had to listen to his dad say in a matter-of-fact way; “Betcha wish you would have sold it now, right boy?”

A few months later, the phone rang and someone asked Krash what he did to get his car in the magazine. “I had no idea what they were talking about and immediately ran out to pick up my copy of Traditional Rod and Kustom, and sure enough there was my coupe taking up a half of a page,” Krash exclaimed. “I have no idea who, how or why the good people at Vintiques decided that it was my car that they would use, but I will always be happy that someone else liked it enough to publish it. They ran that ad for several issues and I felt like a rock star every time it came out.”

Krash eventually sold the 1935 Ford coupe. “I’ve always regretted it and always will,” Krash said mournfully. He has had a few car projects since then, and is currently working on a 1939 Studebaker President five-window. “It’s getting a Desoto Hemi engine that I convinced dear ol’ Dad to part with,” Krash said. “It’s just too bad I can’t get him to put it in this time.”

1 Reader Comment

  • 1
    Malik Z. Newton Fayetteville Georgia July 22, 2015 at 14:22
    This is a. One of the best rat rods I every seen cool 35 ford congrats to the builder & there craftsmanship great job and hope to read more about this wonderful automobile and its builder.

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