Well-Refined ’35 Captures the Goodguys March Performance 2020 Street Rod d’Elegance Award
When you find something that works, you stick with it. That’s a good philosophy for many aspects of life, from business, to relationships, and yes, even street rods.
The Goodguys / March Performance 2020 Street Rod d’Elegance winner, Dave Gonzales’ gorgeous ’35 Ford coupe, is a great example of that strategy. It stems from the strong relationship that has developed between Dave and car builder Roger Burman of Lakeside Rods & Rides in recent years. Though the two men live half a continent apart – Dave in California and Roger in Iowa – Dave has become a repeat Lakeside customer, purchasing a number of vehicles crafted by Roger and his team. He knows the combination of quality, style, and performance the shop consistently turns out.
While he was more than a satisfied customer, Dave had never worked with Roger from the start of a ground-up build. The two men decided to change that and embark on a fresh street rod project that would be custom tailored just for Dave. The raw material of choice was something Roger has had plenty of success with – a 1935 Ford three-window coupe.
“At the beginning of the build, Roger asked me what I had in mind,” Dave says. “I replied to him to incorporate details from all his past ’35 Ford coupes.”
Roger has built more than two dozen ’35 Fords through the years, dating back to the first five-window coupe he did back in 1989. The long lineup of ’35s includes three past Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance winners, including Kevin and Karen Alstott’s ’35 roadster, which won the Ridler Award and America’s Most Beautiful Roadster honor in addition to its Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance crown. Needless to say, Roger knows his way around these cars and knows exactly where to slice, stretch, trim, tuck, and alter them to transform the 85-year-old design into a sleek, modern street rod.
Roger and his lead builder, Bobby Hofbauer, began Dave’s project by building a low- and smooth-riding chassis using a Pete & Jakes frame with a 3-inch stretched wheelbase, TCI independent front suspension, RideTech coil-over shocks, and a four-link rear suspension locating the 3.70-geared 9-inch rearend. The chassis was painted and well-detailed before it got rolling on a set of 18×7- and 20×12-inch Billet Specialties Reaper wheels wrapped in Michelin 225/35/18 and 335/25/20 rubber.
Seeking smooth power to back up the sleek new lines the car was getting, Roger and Dave selected a 6.2-liter LS3 crate engine cranking out 425 horsepower. It was dressed up and detailed with body-color paint, Billet Specialties valve covers, a Billet Specialties TruTrac accessory drive system, and a custom engine cover. A PRC radiator was employed to keep things cool, while Billet Specialties headers were used to direct spent gasses to a custom aluminized exhaust system with Flowmaster Hushpower mufflers. The engine was backed up with a 4L60E overdrive automatic transmission controlled with a C6 Corvette shifter.
The extensive slicing and sheet metal massaging we referenced earlier included stretching the wheelbase 3-inches by reworking the front fenders and wedge-sectioning the body, removing 2-inches of material in front tapering back to no material removed at the back. This gives the coupe a more streamlined and angular profile. Couple that with the filled and chopped top – with 2½-inches removed from the A-pillars, and 2-inches from the rear – and you’ve got a slippery new shape.
A custom Rootlieb hood and hood sides were used to refine the car’s nose, leading to a laid-back and reshaped grille with a custom Alumicraft insert. The custom hood side vents were built by Lakeside and surrounded with custom side trim by Atomic Machine. King Bee headlight housings were filled with late-model Jeep LED lights and ’37 Ford taillights were mounted to the rear fenders, while custom bumpers were fitted both front and rear. Chrome plating duties were shared between Advanced Plating and Sherm’s Custom Plating. Roger said he found the color on a late-model Buick SUV near his shop. It’s a rich metallic bronze called Subterranean, expertly applied by the Lakeside team using Axalta materials.
Roger turned to Weber Custom Interiors in Alexandria, Minnesota, for help finishing off the coupe’s cabin. The custom-made dash was wrapped in tan and black leather and fitted with a simple oval gauge cluster housing Dakota Digital instruments. The reshaped Dodge Intrepid bucket seats and custom door panels were trimmed to match, with a center console dropping down from the dash featuring a back-up camera and custom stainless trim. A Vintage Air system was added to keep temperatures comfortable, while Billet Specialties took care of finishing touches like the pedals and steering wheel atop the Flaming River tilt column.
The end result is sleek, contemporary coupe that showcases smooth street rod styling with elegant details and enhancements. In short, its’s the sort of stylish creation that the Street Rod d’Elegance award is designed to honor.
The two-year build was completed just prior to the Goodguys 2020 Speedway Motors Heartland Nationals, where it was a Top Five finalist for Street Rod of the Year and where Dave laid eyes on the finished project for the first time. “When my brother-in-law and I arrived at the show, Roger took us to the building where a photo shoot was being taken,” Dave says. “I saw the coupe and circled it about 200 times – the most beautiful hot rod I have ever seen! Each time I circled the coupe, I found subtle modifications that added to the beauty. It’s a dream come true. Great job, Roger!”
Photos by Damon Lee & John Jackson