John Martin’s Drag-Inspired 1934 Ford Coupe
John Martin made 10-second quarter-mile passes in the early days of Pro Stock drag racing, so he knows a thing or two about fast hot rods. But his current ride could put those vintage Pro Stockers to shame. His 1934 Ford coupe is NHRA-certified for 8.5-second runs, if he wants to push the 693ci, 850-horsepower BBC beast to the extreme.
John found the steel five-window body on eBay. That’s when the fun started. In true competition fashion, the body was tweaked to be both more streamlined and sinister looking. The top was lowered 4-inches, and in the process the windshield was laid back and the rear window tilted forward. The wheel wells were moved forward. John fabricated the custom firewall to make room for the monster engine. The body was coated in red Axalta paint – a Ford pickup hue – by Rick Dean.
The chassis was constructed with aftermarket frame rails that were modified to fit the reconfigured body, with a roll cage tied in for safety and strength. A Vega cross-steer system handles the turning chores, while a chrome Super Bell axle and four-bar radius rods support the front American Rebel wheels. A four-bar rear suspension setup connects the Strange 9-inch rear axle to the frame, complete with American Rebel wheels and Mickey Thompson ET Street rubber.
The New Century Performance-built big block Chevy engine features Brodix Big Duke heads and is topped by three-inch Kinsler stacks that were made streetable. Lucky Bodenbach built the plenum chamber and he also designed the progressive throttle linkage. Only four of the eight stacks operate below full throttle. John fabricated the clever headers himself – the zoomie pipes mask turndown outlets that steer the exhaust under the car. JW Performance built the Powerglide transmission. The front-mounted Moon tank functions as an air/oil separator for the vacuum pump, while the radiator is located in the trunk to help the car resemble one a late-’60s A/Altered pavement pounder.
The interior is a creative mix of beautiful form and hardcore function. Seventies-era Stewart Warner Stage III gauges reside in a milled aluminum insert in a stock dash. A Superior 500 three-spoke steering wheel sits on a collapsible column that’s secured by a column drop harvested from the Havoc Top Fueler. Modified Speedway bomber seats are covered with leather. A Hurst pistol grip shift handles the gear-changing chores.
In addition to his time behind the wheel of drag cars, John spent 25 years as an automotive engineer, during which time he acquired 25 patents. It’s safe to say he was able to apply many of the lessons learned during his career to build this rowdy, high-impact 1934 Ford coupe.
Photos by John Jackson & Steven Bunker