Picture this: it’s Saturday night, summer, 1957. Time to pick up your date in your oh-so-cool gray primered ’39 Ford convert, built by local Colorado Springs, ColoRODo, legend Larry Purcell. Powered by a hot flathead, built by Charlie Snow, it’s no slouch – more than one of those new ‘55/’56/’57 Chevys found that out.
In a two block stretch, several of them lost a ten dollar bill to Buddy Graver’s ’39 convert. Problem was — the “speed contest” tickets cost too much…the car went up for sale in 1963. Selling price – $75.00!
Fast forward. An ad in Hemming’s caught Buddy’s eyes: Estate sale – Wichita, Kansas. 1939 Ford convert, chopped smoothie dash, SW gauges, minor kustom work done, 59AB block, seized & not running, sitting since 1971.
Buddy Graver thought it’d be nice to build his never-forgotten high school kustom again…and do it like it was done forty years earlier, only this time with a few more niceties. Buddy bought the car. He found it had ’40 Ford Standard front fenders, one ’40 Ford rear fender, one ’39 Ford rear fender and a 1939 Ford Transmission.
The right side had been side-swiped sometime in its life, the door-post had been straightened and the car needed a lot of work. Buddy was determined to build his high school sweetheart.
A TCI frame with Mustang II suspension was purchased and the body relocated then the floor was the first to be replaced. Once that was done, the firewall was moved back 2” to make room for a 302” Ford along with Vintage three two’s and a C-4 tranny. A Ford 9” with 3:25 gears was located and hung on leafs and air shocks.
When it was rolling, body work commenced…’52 Buick taillights were frenched in, the headlights were frenched. Door handles and all emblems removed and the hood bull-nosed. A new chrome piece built over the stock grille and fender skirts were hand-built using a round rod framework. When the body work was done, Buddy sprayed it in his garage with PPG lacquer – black, like it should have been done back in 1957.
When snow started to fly, Buddy moved operations to the basement of his home, and upholstery work commenced. He personally did all the upholstery – rebuilding the seat, sewing the rolls and pleats, laying the carpet and covering and upholstering the Carson style top you see in the photos.
Buddy’s uncle Ray had owned Santa Fe body shop in ColoRODo Springs many, many years ago and his Father had been a body man all his life. They both told Buddy if he ever went to work as a body man they’d disown him. Buddy retired from Sears several years ago and never worked in a body shop, but he’s certain both men were aware he’s a good body man, as evidenced by his “new” ‘39.
Five year’s worth of work on the ‘39 went by fast…by the time spring rolled around, Buddy was ready to show off his hard work – his new ‘high school sweetheart’ was ready for her debut.
Every time Buddy climbs into his convert to head for a local rod run or simply a cruise, there’s no doubt that his high school days come screaming back and he’s 17 years old again – looking to earn another ten dollars a race.
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