1951 Shoebox Ford Custom – A Road Race Inspired Classic
A 1951 Shoebox Ford doesn’t roll off the tongue when thinking about a track car, but every once in a while a vehicle comes along that is a little bit different and causes a big buzz. Bruce Leven’s low-slung 1951 Ford is a salute to his hot rodding and road-racing roots, breaks all the molds and definitely had people talking all year. His vision of a heavily modified shoebox with vintage racecar flair was expertly brought to life by the crew of Auburn, Washington’s Wicked Fabrication utilizing the best of both modern and vintage components.
They started by wedge-sectioning the 1951 Ford 2.5-inches in the rear to 5-inches at the front. They eliminated the bumpers and replaced them with new one-off roll pans. The custom-machined billet grille was chrome plated and fitted with a center bar, mesh screen and amber fog lights.
The roof skin was pancaked an inch and a half to lower the profile and a rear-facing roof scoop was added. Next, the wheel wells were deeply opened up to make room for the 16-inch genuine magnesium Novi style wheels and yellow-letter Goodyear tires.
With the body dialed in the chassis was built around a set of frame rails from Art Morrison Enterprises. They also used AME front suspension with Koni coilovers and air cylinders from Umbrella Manufacturing. Out back, Wicked Fab crafted an IRS around a Speedway Engineering quick change. All suspension components were then nickel plated and accented with gold PPG paint.
Under the hood is just as trick with a fully prepped ’56 Lincoln 372c.i. V8 topped with Hilborn injection (converted to EFI) and a Joe Hunt magneto. Wicked created a custom set of Y-block style headers and side exhaust in stainless pairing it to the potent mill with a Borg-Warner T-5 trans. The drive train is fed from a custom riveted fuel tank in the trunk with an internal bladder.
The aircraft-inspired interior saw many more hours of fabrication and a liberal dose of riveting. Stitches Custom Upholstery selectively covered the one-off seats and custom interior panels in distressed denim and Irish cream leather. Whatever wasn’t trimmed was painted in alternating shades of PPG Grey Blue and Blue Grey paint by Byer’s Custom, who handled all of the car’s paintwork.
A Nardi steering wheel tops a classic straight Ididit column in front of a one-off gauge pod housing aircraft-style Classic Instruments gauges. An overhead console keeps the car’s switches and controls neatly wired in a vintage-style harness from American Autowire. Wicked Fabrication blended custom bell cranks and Wilwood controls with Jamar cylinders for the cool pedal system poking through the floor.
While the car had a HUGE year winning signature awards everywhere it went including a Goodguys GOLD award at the 2016 SEMA show as well as qualifying to win the Goodguys 2017 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year, our story has a sad twist. Bruce succumbed to Cancer September 15th. He had been sick for over a year. Close friends shared with us that had it not been for the energy and excitement of seeing this project through and watching it collect accolades, he most likely would have left us sooner. Rest in peace Bruce. Your custom creation will be enjoyed for generations to come.