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Icons of the 80s and 90s

September 13, 2014

Posies 1936 Ford

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Written by: Rik Hoving
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POSIES 1936 FORD

This classic looking outside and all modern street rod underneath 1936 Ford built by Posies, was trend setting crowd pleaser in the early 1980’s.

 

K

en Fenical, owner of the Posies Hot Rod Shop in Pennsylvania already had quite a reputation for building fine Street Rod and Hot Rods in the early 1980’s. But he put his business really on the map in the 1981, when he built a traditional styled 1936 Ford convertible for his personal use. The early 1980’s was the time of the revival of the Custom Cars, inspired several major Custom Car enthusiasts as John D’Agostino, Richard Zocchi, Rod Powell, Pat Ganahl and many more the interst in 1940’s and especially 1950’s styled Custom Cars grew from nearly zero interest into a new rapidly growing movement. Several Custom Cars helped grow of State wide interst in the period styled Custom Cars, one of these was this Posies 1936 Ford Convertible. It was styled as if it could have been driver right out of the early 1950’s, but a modern Street Rod drivetrain made sure the car could be driven anywhere. The color choice of bright yellow with a white padded top made the impact this car had even bigger.

CCC-posies-36-ford-12On the left is the December 192 issue of Chrome & Flames magazine (title is in Dutch), the first time I saw Posies 1936 Ford. Later I found a copy of the  October 1982 issue of Classic & Custom magazine with the car on the cover, and much more info in the four page feature inside.

 

 
The first time I saw his car when it was featured in the Dutch/Belgium magazine called Chrome & Flames. An rather obscure magazine, but sometime they had some nice cars, besides that it was my only link with the American Car scene in the early 1980’s The car had an amazing 6 page full color article in this magazine, and I was in total awe. I just could not believe how beautiful this car was back then. (I had no access to old magazines and books in the early 1980’s) By my own personal standards today I think that the car is too low, and especially the slight forward rake, and none accurate looking padded top and other details, does not give the car the right feeling of a late 1940’s custom Car, but back in early 1980, I thought this was the most beautiful car ever.

CCC-posies-36-ford-02Mike key used this photo of the 1936 Ford in his book LEAD SLEDS from 1984. I really like this photo now, since it does not show the slight forward angle.

 

 
Ken built this car for himself over a period of nearly four month. And his goal was to built a car that he could use to go to Street Rod shows as well as Custom Car shows. He decided to go with a full modern Street Rod drive train and frame, but all the looks and feel on the outside would be late 1940’s early 1950’s, Westergard style.

The Frame work was done first. Ken wanted this car to sit very low, but he still wanted to be able to drive it. To be able to do this he knew he had to modify the frame a lot. But rather than reshape the original frame he decided to use more modern components for the front and rear section of the frame. The ride height for the car was figured out, and a jig was built for the frame. The stock 1936 Ford frame was cleaned up and strengthened. The front end of the frame was cut of and replaced with a 1969 Chevy Nova subframe. The rear end was replaced with the frame section of a 1965 Mustang. Both suspensions were of course updates with Posies excellent Street Rod parts making sure the car would drive the best.The stock flathead engine was replaced with a reliable 1980 Corvette L-81 engine. The engine was cleaned up, and later dressed up with all kinds of chromed goodies.

CCC-posies-36-ford-07Original interior shows the molded and smoothed dash, the real Appleton spotlights with handles, Crestline steering wheel on tilt column, AC outlets and radio underneath the dash. The white leather upholstery looks very classic.

 

 
CCC-posies-36-ford-06Another Mike Key photo from the LEAD SLED book shows the low mounted spare tire cover, and the  narrowed DeSoto bumpers. It also shows the slight forward rake.

 

 
CCC-posies-36-ford-05Des Moines 1983.

 

 
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Then it was time for the body customizing. Ken had done his research, looking in his old Custom Car magazines and knew he wanted to go for an early Harry Westergard inspired look. He had found a 1937 LaSalle grille and a set of 1937 Ribbed bumpers. All parts Harry Westergard loved to use on his typical customized 1940’s customs. The windshield frame was chopped 3,5 inches and a frame for the non folding top was created. Ken created the bows from metal rods and wood to created a more modern interpretation of a Carson style top. Next up was the installment of the LaSalle grille. Ken reshaped the top portion of the grille and hand formed the body shaped to which the grille fits onto. The stock hood sides were replaced with home made smooth units, and the two piece hood was welded to a one piece unit and hinged at the back “alligator” style. Headlights were molded low into the fenders, and two 1934 Ford parking lights are molded to the fender to make up the parking lights.

At the back the trunk was smoothed and the 1937 DeSoto bumper narrowed 8 inches to fit the lines of the car better. The gap from the bumper to the body was filled in with a hand made splash pan. To fit with the style of the rest of the car the splash pan was not molded to the body. the rear fenders were dressed up with a set of original 1940 Ford fender skirts which were slightly reshaped to fit the 1936 Ford fenders. A metal spare tire cover was mounted low below the trunk and sunken into the splash pan. A 1949 Chevy license plate cover was modified to fit the ribbed DeSoto bumper. To stay with the 1940’s theme the door handles were not shaved, and the rear fenders were not molded to the body.

CCC-posies-36-ford-03Barry Mazza took this picture of the car after a rain storm. Ken drove the car everywhere,not afraid of it getting dirty.

 

 
CCC-posies-36-ford-11This photo shows the wonderful classic lines of the car. 

 

 
Once all the body work was finished the car was painted with a bright Sunfire yellow lacquer. A mid 70’s Cadillac Power bench was narrowed to fit the small 1936 Ford body and a late 60s’ mustang rear seat was fitted to the rear portion of the car. Originally these convertibles only had a front seat. But Ken had two young kids and he wanted to bring them to the shows as well. The original dash was welded to the inside of the car for a smooth look and once the whole dash was smoothed he added a set of Stewart Warner gauges. Below the dash Ken installed modern AC and radio. The dash was also painted Sunfire yellow. The upholstery was done by Mike Haverstock Upholstery out of Chambersburg, PA. He used white leather to upholster the modern seats in an vintage looking tuck & roll. Mike also upholstered the padded top with white cloth material. He used an jaguar convertible rear window.

Finishing touched are a set of real Appleton spotlights, wide white wall tires and modified 1951 Chrysler hubcaps. Ken restored an rare 1949 Ford Crestliner steering wheel and painted it body color and mounted it on the modern tilt column.

CCC-posies-36-ford-08

CCC-posies-36-ford-10Taillight pods are stock 1936 Ford, but smoothed for a cleaner look.

 

 

Remake one

Ken showed the car a lot in the early 1980’s. He took it to the legendary second annual Lead Sled Spectacular in Des moines, Iowa where the car was a HUGE hit. After that the car was seen locally but not as much as in the early 1980’s. Then the car sort of disappeared of the radar, but in 2009 it suddenly appeared in California. The new owner, from Florida had taken the on a long cross country drive to show it at several shows. The car looked amazing in its natural habitat, but the new dark blue cloth upholstered top and interior had given the car a completely new look. It sure was great to see new photos of this Custom Car icon from the early 1980’s in such a good shape.

CCC-posies-36-ford-24

CCC-posies-36-ford-25Dave lindsay took some nice photos of the Posies 1936 Ford now named “Smooth”. This photo shows the modified 1949 Chevy plate surround and the great looking 1951 Chrysler hubcaps sitting on that body colored metal spare tire cover. The Smooth hubcaps centers were hand made and replace the Posies units original on the hubcaps.

 

 
CCC-posies-36-ford-21A good look at the molded in dash and window garnish molding. The Crestliner steering wheel in body color  looks really great. Notice the blue cloth upholstery.

 

 
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CCC-posies-36-ford-14

CCC-posies-36-ford-13The dark blue upholstery on the padded top changed the look of this car a lot. New are also aditional graphics to the simple pinstriping along the belt line and on the trunk. Also not an improvement in my eyes.

 

 

Another re-make

A few years ago, a new owner decided to redo the car completely, refresh the over 30 year old build. He decided to not change anything on the car, why would he, the car was perfect the way it looked. But he decided to go for a new color, burgundy, which once again changed the looks of the car completely. The dark blue upholstered top was redone in black and the interior was re-upholstered in black and off white. The molded-in 1936 Ford dash was cut out and replaced with a 1940 Ford unit which was painted body color with an off white lower section. The new owner also removed the AC and tilt column and replaced it with a Line Works steering column. At a later date, possebly after the car changed hands once more the interior was redone again. A dark red material was used to match the color of the body. The new interior with its diagonal pleats has a more street rod feeling than the previous interiors. The last photos I have seen of the car (not included in this article) show that the current owner has put chrome reverse wheels on the car.

CCC-posies-36-ford-17The interior was redone for this dark red version in black and white.

 

CCC-posies-36-ford-20The new paint and top color give the car an more street rod feel to me.

 

 
CCC-posies-36-ford-19The red wheels are painted black, and the custom made center emblems have been removed from the hubcaps.

 

 
CCC-posies-36-ford-18The 1940 Ford dash is new to this version. And so is the all dark red interior with diagonal pleats on the doors.

 

 

 
Info and resources

  • Chrome & Flamesmagazine December 1982
  • Classic & Custommagazine October 1982
  • LEAD SLEDSbook by Mike Key 1984 isbn 0-85045-547-2

 
Personally I prefer the first yellow with white top and interior version of this car. Just the way Posies Ken designed the car.

 
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About the Author

Profile photo of Rik Hoving
Rik Hoving
Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)




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9 Comments


  1. Profile photo of thinkfink

    Thanks for this one Rik.
    Excellent read!


  2. Profile photo of David/Michelle

    Good review Rik, of this well known and often seen car from the early 1980’s. I must however make the following observations concerning this subject vehicle. To wit; the stance, headlight choice and placement, paint color, tires, hubcaps, rear mounted spare, interior, parking lights, are all really very tasteless. And this is just the short list. I have saved the worst for last…That “padded top” is an absolute disgrace. I know that I risk the displeasure of some. So be it…I stand by my views on this. This car should have been laughed off the show fields when it debuted in the 80’s.


    • Profile photo of Rik Hoving

      David & Michelle
      Your observation is correct, from an traditional historic point of view. And I agree, this car is nothing like what was built in the 1940’s or early 1950’s. But you have to realize the impact this car had in the early 1980’s. For me personally this car generated my interest in the early Custom Cars from the 1940’s. And I know for sure it has done the same thing for many (young) people who saw this car at Hot Rod and Custom Car shows back in the 1980’s.


  3. Profile photo of bob tindale

    Not my favorite but I like the first two pictures of the 3 rd version the best. The Crestliner steering wheel should have remained.


  4. Profile photo of Renaud Zed Legardez

    the 80’s were not the time of period perfect -ness at all ! most of those enthusiast wanted to make the kustom of their teen dreams, melting fads of different period, but it’s what made the revival! that car has a huge impact on me too, prolly because of the lack of kustom litterature in europe at the time …it’s good to see the car is still around…blue remake was kinda strange idea to me, but maroon ones are nicer ! thanks for sharing Rik 😉


  5. Profile photo of Gregg3E Butler

    Yeah it was so good to learn a bit more about this neat ride. This got me hooked on the Westergard style and therefore I learnt more once I did my homework on the real cars.

    Personally I like it, even the forward tilt looks right to me tho the roof looked boxy. He wasn’t trying to create a barn find style car he was doing his own take on a classic style and it sure worked on me.

    I’m applying the style to my 37 fargo 2Tonne truck, its gunna look pretty neat I reckon..


  6. Profile photo of Artie

    Thank you Rik for a well done article on a fine “older” custom. It is unfortunate that David/Michelle didn’t listen when his parents said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” It is amazing to me that instead of commenting on the fact that one of the most iconic customs from over thirty years ago is still around and continues to win awards and draw tremendous attention at shows. Posie, Ken Fenical, likes to make statements when he creates his automotive art. Whether it is a customer’s statement, or his own, nobody has to wonder what is going on. This car was built in the early 80’s. This was a time when builders were turning to graphics, billet and all the new ideas of what a custom was supposed to be. Posie clearly showed, with this car, that it was time to return to tradition. Yes he didn’t copy Westergard to the minutest detail…but everyone got the message loud and clear. Many people believe this car was the turning point in getting builders back to traditional customs and hot rods.Yes, it had a forward rake, that is what Posie wanted.
    David, I am glad that there is nothing about this car that you like…it only appeared in 27 magazines in the US and many more overseas. This car was a sensation when it first came out…and has now been tastefully redone for the current times. Nothing has been changed body wise…in person, this is one “elegant” ride…it still drops jaws. You don’t have to like it…that is why I am in this hobby, there is nothing wrong with a street rod or hot rod or custom as long as it is the way, the owner wants it to be. When one of your rides appears in as many magazines or receives as many awards as this car, then maybe you can send me a picture so it can be critiqued by the tasteless. I will continue to drive and enjoy and share this iconic custom with all that wish to enjoy it. For those that think it is tasteless, I hope they learn to keep their opinions to themselves. I did not make these changes to the car, and would have kept it as originally built for the sake of history. That being said, it has been changed, it still drops people in their tracks and I love it!
    Artie Epstein, current caretaker of “Smoooth 36” by Posies.


  7. Profile photo of biff.lenihan@rescuevoice.com

    Give me a brake. David/Michelle where are your cars ? this car is one bad ass hot rod. Biff



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