Hank Griffith's 1942 Ford

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Hank's coupe as it appeared when it was featured in Custom Cars Trend Book No. 101.
A colorized photo of Hank's coupe was featured on the cover of Trend Book 101 Custom Cars. The car was never red while Hank owned it.
A colorized version of Hank's coupe can be seen on the cover of Motor Trend October 1951, down in the lower right corner. Hank is leaning against the car.
A photo of Hank's coupe as it appeared after it had been painted white in 1951. Photo courtesy of Hank and Janet Griffith.
This photo of the white version of Hank's coupe drag racing at Saugus Drag Strip was featured in Hop Up October 1951.

1942 Ford Sedan Coupe owned by Auto Butchers of East Los Angeles member Hank Griffith of Pasadena, California. Hank found the coupe advertised for sale in the local newspaper in 1948. The asking price was 200 USD. Hank began to restyle the car in 1949, and he started out by lowering it. According to Custom Cars Trend Book No. 101 and Motor Trend October 1951, the top on Hank's coupe was chopped by Al Ayala of Gil's Auto Body Works. This was not the case, as the top was actually chopped by Hank's friend Ray Saconi. Ray chopped the top 4 inches up front, and 4 1/2 inches in the rear. After Ray had chopped the top, Hank drove his custom over to the Ayala Brothers for further restyling in 1950. He brought a pair of 1950 Cadillac quarter panels, doors, a rear bumper and a grille so the Ayala's could make him a unique and modern looking kustom. Some publications have written that these parts were off a 1951 Cadillac, but according to Hank's wife Janet Giffith, they came from a 1950 Cadillac. After the quarter panels had been molded onto the coupe, the car was fit with full fadeaway fenders that flowed smoothly from the front fenders to the front of the Cadillac quarter panels.The fender parts were cut, pieced together and welded in place using little or no lead. The doors were modified using the Cadillac door skins. The body was shaved for trim and door handles, and the deck lid and doors were operated using pushbutton activated solenoids. The deck lid corners were rounded. The front end received the Cadillac grille and a 1947 Ford front bumper. The headlights were frenched. After the car had been modified, Ayala covered the body in a dark grey primer. This was how the car looked when it was featured on the cover of Custom Cars Trend Book No. 101 and Motor Trend October 1951, even though those magazines colorized it red and blue. Later on, the car received a white paint job. This version was featured in Hop Up October 1951.[1]

Hank wanted his coupe to go fast, so he had the flathead engine hopped up by a guy that worked at a gas station in San Fernando. A new camshaft was installed along with Navarro heads and an intake that featured a 4bbl carburetor. Dual exhaust was installed as well. Hank used to race the coupe at the 6-S Airfield in Saugus, and he more then often won the races he attended. In 1951 he received a top speed of 84 mph at the quarter mile. Hank remember beating Barney Navarro in his hopped up 1951 Ford one time as well.[1]

In 1952, Ray Saconi gave the car a root beer metallic paint job. The same year, the car received a matching gold leather interior. Hank can't remember who did the upholstery, but he remember that the upholsterer modified the backseat into what was called a love-seat. After the car had been upholstered, the upholsterer asked Hank if he could take the car to a show in Los Angeles. He offered the job for free if Hank would agree to show the car at the show. Hank accepted the offer.[1]

Hank started dating his future wife Janet while he owned the Ford, and she remember that she got to drive it once. Hank used to tease her and say that she could drive it if she washed it. Hank married Janet in 1953. Shortly thereafter he sold the coupe as he felt it was not a suitable family car. He sold the coupe for 2 500 USD to the owner of the Hertz Rent-a-car in Hollywood. The guy who bought it, bought it as a gift for his grandson. According to The Rodder's Journal 40, Hank bought a 1952 Ford after he had sold the coupe, that he brought back to the Ayalas for a mild customization. In 2013 Hank told Kustomrama that this was not the case.[2]

Magazine Features

Custom Cars Trend Book No. 101
Motor Trend October 1951
Hop Up October 1951
Car Craft April 1956
Gasoline Magazine 5/2013



Custom Cars Trend Book No. 101
Rik Hoving Custom Car Photo Archive


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