Auction Pick of the Week: 1937 Ford hot rod
Matt Bange is a “self-made” hot rodder, whose parents made up for their lack of car knowledge by passing down their creativity and pouring on the positive feedback. The combination proved valuable for Bange, who has built four hot rods. He would likely be working on his fifth if his first child weren’t due in a couple of months.
“I was pretty much on my own when it came to cars,” says Bange, 33. “When I was a kid I had fun tinkering with stuff and playing with Legos and K’nex. Then I got tired of drawing hot rods and decided to actually build one. I worked a bunch of jobs as a teenager and used that money to build my first one [a 1929 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan] when I was 20. I taught myself everything—welding, fabricating, woodworking, electrical … and over the years I’ve continued to grow my connections in the hot rod world.”
That first hot rod, which Bange sold when he was 25, gave him the confidence to do more. His second build was a 1928 Model A pickup, then he tackled a 1935 Ford Model 50 pickup before taking on the 1937 Ford Model 78 Slantback Tudor Sedan pictured here. Custom work on the sedan had already been started by a former Ridler Award winner, but the vehicle had been left outside and exposed to the elements for years. When the owner passed away, Bange bought the ’37 in April 2021. He drove 14 hours to pick it up in Minnesota and then trailered it home to Michigan. The roof had been chopped three inches, which gave him a decent head start, but the car was also covered with patina and moss, neither of which scared him off.
Bange installed a small-block 307-cubic-inch V-8 engine and a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission from a 1969 Chevy Chevelle, upgraded with a 9 Super 7 intake manifold for three two-barrel carburetors, polished pulleys, a new water pump, mechanical fuel pump, Offenhauser fuel regulator, translucent red fuel lines, a small cap HEI distributor, and Smoothie Rams Horn exhaust manifolds. The Ford also has a nine-inch rear end, a Ford Mustang II front end, front disc brakes, rear drum brakes, Wheelsmith 16×4-inch wheels with polished baby moon hubcaps, and a staggered set of Coker Firestone vintage bias-ply tires. The car has no odometer or speedometer.
Bange’s creativity doesn’t stop at the body and mechanicals. He turned an aluminum “Bob’s Beer” can (a tribute to his wife’s grandfather) into the coil cover, used an early 1900s brass fire extinguisher container as his radiator overflow bottle, installed a replica 1890s revolver as an air vent handle, glued a Lego Frankenstein inside a hole under the hood, and painted a clown—reminiscent of Pennywise, the main character in the horror movie It—on the rear of the car.
“It’s wild and wicked, kind of like Frankenstein’s monster,” he says of the ’37 Ford. “It definitely snaps necks. A lot of people appreciate that it’s chopped and has a bare steel/patina body. Some will ask, ‘Are you going to paint it?’ And I’ll say, ‘No, it’s done.’ And they’ll say, ‘Thank you! I love it just the way it is.’”
Bange has always thrived on that kind of feedback. “There’s definitely creativity in the family,” he says. “My dad went to college to be an architect, and he likes tweaking things, just not so much on cars—he doesn’t even change his own oil. Mom is creative when it comes to crafts and stuff. And I’m told my grandpa worked on World War II vehicles.
“My parents and grandparents were always giving me positive reinforcement about the things that interested me, telling me I could do whatever I set out to do. My grandpa would take me to the airport to watch the planes, and that led to me becoming a pilot; I was in aviation for years.”
Bange has been into cars longer than he has worked in aviation, and someone out there may soon benefit from his self-made automotive skills. He says the ’37 Ford currently shares garage space with his 1935 Ford pickup truck and a 1929 Chevrolet 1.5-ton pickup that will become his next project—someday, just not someday soon.
“[My wife, Heather, and I] are expecting our firstborn, Wyatt, in late October, and obviously all of our attention is going to go to him,” Bange says. “And I have to make some room in the garage for something that’s good in the winter weather.”
That means something has to go, and that something is his ’37 Ford hot rod. Since Bange serves as Hagerty Marketplace coordinator, what better place to put it up for auction? With 11 days remaining in the auction, bidding has reached $7300. The auction closes on September 11 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, when Bange can officially turn his attention to a new baby. We’re guessing little Wyatt won’t be lacking in creativity.