Exiting the FastLane With Mike Snyder’s Bright Orange Deuce Coupe
The success of having a hot rod built by a pro shop almost always depends on the relationship between the customer and builder. The project will likely turn out well if the two parties share a similar vision.
A shared objective was critical in the creation of this Hugger Orange Deuce five-window from FastLane Rod Shop. As it turns out, the common vision between the customer and builder Dave Lane dates back more than a dozen years, before the two men had even met.
“The story actually starts back in 2006,” Dave says. “I received a box of ZZ Top CDs with a small note that said ‘I read that you like to listen to ZZ Top while you’re building hot rods – thought you’d enjoy these! Maybe someday you can build me a hot rod.’
“That was the complete message,” Dave continues. “The return address on the box said, ‘just an old farmhouse down the road.’”
The package remained a mystery for three years, until the summer of 2009. “I get a call from a guy who would like me to come look at a project he’s considering doing,” Dave says. “When I arrived, he introduced himself and as we talked, I figured out he was the guy who sent the package with the CDs years ago. Crazy!”
That guy was Mike Snyder, who had been watching Lane’s car-building career progress through articles in street rod magazines. “I just kept watching his builds and was really impressed with his work,” Mike says.
The project Mike had was a little too far gone, but he and Dave found a direction on which they could agree. “Mike wanted a badass hot rod,” Dave says. “We decided a five-window with a 392c.i. Hemi would be the ticket!”
It’s always good to start with a clean slate, so Mike and Dave decided that a new United Pacific reproduction steel body would be a good foundation. Mike bought the body in 2013. The only catch was Dave’s waiting list – as a one-man shop, his pace has historically been one car per year. “He waited patiently until 2019 to officially start on the car,” Dave says.
It’s worth noting that Dave – an acclaimed builder with multiple Goodguys Street Rod of the Year, Hot Rod of the Year, and other accolades to his credit – was also looking at winding down his car-building career. As it turns out, Mike’s Deuce would be the last car to come out of Dave’s Iowa-based FastLane Rod Shop.
A killer stance was part of the plan, so Dave and Mike got a head start by bringing in an outside expert. “We asked Henry Richards of Steadfast Manufacturing to build us a chassis,” Dave says. “We let him run wild with it, incorporating many one-off and first-run pieces. Using his chassis really sped up the process – that just left me with building the headers and exhaust, brake lines, and some other small stuff.”
Key components of the chassis included a 4-inch dropped front axle with hairpins and a Winters quick-change located by one-off curved ladder bars and a Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop sway bar. The 15×4-inch spindle-mount wheels came from American Rebel, while the 16×10-inch rears are ET IIIs with Towel City pie-crust slicks.
Of course, that vintage injected Hemi makes quite a centerpiece. Built by Dave Bruns, the 392c.i. mill uses aluminum heads from Hot Heads, a Joe Hunt-style magneto, and Hilborn stack injection converted to EFI using Holley electronics. Jeff Bertrand machined the water pump spacers and all the bolts on the engine, while Atomic Machine made the lower pulley. The Donovan valve covers were expertly polished by Rich Granlund from rough castings. Bowler Transmissions built the Tremec five-speed, which was hooked up using a Wilcap adapter. The T-handle topping the Hurst shifter actually came from Mike’s high school car.
Using a new United Pacific body gave Dave a great starting point on the metalwork. He chopped the top 3½-inches and filled it using an insert from Bobby Walden, in addition to making a few other signature tweaks that help set his builds apart from the pack. Dave also took care of the initial bodywork and priming. “We then had Adam and Tyler Krause of The Refinery, two incredibly talented guys, finish out the bodywork and painting while I finished the frame and small pieces,” Dave says. The bright color is Hugger Orange, mixed using Axalta single-stage materials. All the brightwork on the car was done by Jon Wright’s Custom Chrome.
Once the paint and assembly work were done, the coupe was sent to Dave Schober Custom Interiors for some of his first-rate stitch work. Dave used black leather to cover the narrowed ’65 Impala bucket seats and matching door and side panels in a clean, classic style. Other inside elements are equally classic-looking, including the Classic Instruments Mooneyes-series gauges with curved glass in a GMC truck panel, and the Covico steering wheel atop the Limeworks column. An American Autowire harness and simple lap belts with aircraft-style latches rounded things out.
The completed coupe has a strong, well-defined style, which is something we’ve come to expect from Dave Lane. It was exactly what Mike was looking for, even if it did require a bit of waiting. “That didn’t bother me at all,” Mike says. “I’m not going to poke the artist. Let him do his thing. I wanted him to take his time and do it right. He’s such a perfectionist.”
“Once things get back to normal, Mike plans to drive the wheels off it,” Dave says. No doubt Mike will be listening to ZZ Top as he cruises, just as Dave did during the build.
Photos by John Jackson