Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Tough love; yep, another love story. You know how it goes; boy meets girl, boy gets girl pregnant and so on. We’ll not this one! This one is between man and machine, ‘the man’ being Tony Clark and the machine a 1932 Ford three window coupe. 


Tony may not have started this project but he sure did finish it in style. The coupe started with the purchase of a fabricated chassis and fibreglass body from Rods Bods, combined with a garage full of parts. Unfortunately, love never runs true and the marital mat was yanked out from under the rod’s first builder seeing the unfinished vehicle ending up in the classifieds. Along came the second owner of this love scorned rod as a new romance blossomed, dreams brought to fruition through late nights and a consistent flow of cash. Once again hard luck stepped in and our luckless rod owner had no other option but to part with his love. 

Again the blue hue rod hit the classifieds in search of its next romance. This is where Tony comes into the picture. Tony’s a man with plenty of love to go around, first and foremost for his wife, Karen and their children and secondly, for his automotive hobby. With a 350 Chev powered HQ Monaro he’s owned for thirty years and a recently completed 1956 Chevy Bel Air in his garage, this big hearted man found he still had room for another set of wheels. “After building the ‘56, we swore we’d never completely build another!” admits Tony,  the unfinished deuce ticking a lot of boxes including its ‘Ford in a Ford’ configuration. 


Tony headed out and checked it over, having already booked the carrier betting on the inevitable. Three days later, it was in his shed as the family viewed the new addition to the stable. With the quality of the build so far well up to Tony’s high standard, there was no reason to tear it down and start again. It was simply a matter of picking up where the last builder left off. 

By this time, the car had progressed to include the Dart 427 cubic inch Windsor, tricked up C4 auto and Winter’s Quick Change diff. The Chrysler Blackberry paint had been applied and the coupe rolled on 15” Rocket Ignitor wheels with new 185 and 255 rubber. Polished Rod Tech front suspension, four bar rear, Wilwood brakes all round and a Walker radiator were all nice additions.


The Clark family prefer the serenity of country living, calling the farming community of Yarram home. While they enjoy the peace and quiet of their location, it does have its challenges when it comes to building cars. “Because we live fairly remotely, initially it’s harder to build, but once you’ve sourced who does the good work, it’s just a phone call. It doesn’t matter if you travel one hour or three hours, it’s worth it to get the job done right. We just load it on a tandem trailer, take it to where we gotta go, get it done and bring it home again.”

This was the case when it came to fit the interior. The Trim Shop in Thomastown, three hours drive from home, decked out the cockpit and boot. With the choice of interior completely up to Tony, he opted for contrasting red leather to cover the BA Falcon seats with matching leather custom built door trims and arm rests. A small center console houses the electric window controls, Autometer gauges adorn the dash while Tony’s self-designed ignition panel with custom billet knobs blends in nicely with the custom tilt column. A Lokar shifter and handbrake complete the minimalistic interior. 


Tony’s a bloke who doesn’t take shortcuts and had the engineers involved from day one. With a diff as cool looking as the Winters Quickchange, it’d be criminal to keep it hidden behind the factory rear mounted fuel tank, so he had it removed and added a custom aluminium tank in the boot. For safety reasons, a separate firewall shielding the driver from any unwanted fuel and fumes had to be constructed. Completing the underside is the twin 2 1/2 inch exhaust channeled under the diff instead of over due to limited space. These modifications and the rest of the construction passed inspection with flying colours thanks to quality parts and workmanship.

Picking up 3rd place in the show class at the 49th Victorian Hot Rod show is testimony to the quality of the build but it’s not going to remain a show car. “I bought it to drive it, I didn’t buy it to show it, we’ll do a few more shows and then we’ll drive it. That’s what it’s all about,” says Tony.


So why does Tony call the heart breaking rod Tough Love? “The meaning behind it is that we’ve never had a Ford. This is the first Ford we’ve ever owned and we were getting a bit of shit hung on us. We’ve always been Holden/Chev guys and friends give us a hard time. It pretty tough to love a Ford after all these years.”

With a ride looking as tough as this, I’m sure that won’t be a problem!


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