Lew Thompson's 1932 Ford Coupe

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Lew's newly painted coupe was featured on the cover of Rod & Custom June 1953, along with Al Serpa's 1946 Ford. The photo shoot took place right after the 1953 National Roadster Show.
A photo of Tim Carver Jr. with the coupe. This photo was taken in Canyon Lake, California circa 1990. Photo courtesy of Dyanna Carver.
Lew's old coupe as it appeared in March of 2014, when Eric Arnette bought it from Dyanna Carver. Photo courtesy of Eric Arnette - Atlas Speed and Custom.
Gene Winfield painted the coupe in the summer of 2015. Photo courtesy of Eric Arnette - Atlas Speed and Custom.
The newly restored coupe as it sat in January of 2016. Photo courtesy of Eric Arnette - Atlas Speed and Custom.

1932 Ford 5-window coupe owned by Lew Thompson of Hughson, California. Lew was a founding member of the Modesto Century Toppers car club in 1946. In 1947 Lew got the coupe in a trade. He was 16 years old, and it was his daily driver throughout high school. It was near perfect, full fendered, and mostly original, but it had already been chopped and the quarter windows were filled.[1]

From Street to Strip

From 1947 to 1949 the coupe went trough many stages. It was used as a daily driver to high school, and raced on the weekends. Lew eventually ended up channeling it, and he began drag racing it alongside Gene Winfield and other fellow club members. Night racing on backroads, and then more successfully at Kingdon Dragstrip near Lodi. As Lew became more successful racing, he began to heavily modify the flathead Ford engine. In 1949 Bobby Meeks, the chief engine builder and mechanic to Vic Edelbrock, converted the flathead to run on first Alcohol, then Nitromethane. In 2015 Lew told Eric Arnette that his car was one of the first to run on Nitro in Northern California. At the time he was turning 105 in the quarter mile.[1]

From Strip to Show

In 1952 Lew did a cosmetic overhaul to the car. It was painted metallic green, and lots of chrome was added. That version was shown at the National Roadster Show in January of 1953. At the show Lew won first place in the Competition Coupe Class.[1]

Cover Car

Shortly after the Natiaonal Roadster Show, Lew and Alvin Serpa were approached by a new magazine called Rods and Custom, about a photo shoot. Al had won his class at the show with a 1946 Ford convertible that Gene Winfield had restyled. Al was working on the day of the shoot, so Gene picked up his car. They met at the 76 service station where Lew worked for the shoot. One of the photos taken that day became the cover for Rod & Custom June 1953, the second issue of Rod & Custom magazine.[2] This was the first issue of Rod & Custom to be called "Rod & Custom." The May number was called "Rods and Customs." This was also the first magazine to feature a Gene Winfield creation on the cover, and Lew and Al's cars were the first to ever be billed as "a Rod and a Custom" in the magazine.[1]

Sold and Wrecked

In the summer of 1953, a few months after Rod & Custom June 1953 was released, Lew sold the coupe to a friend, who within weeks wrecked it during a race. After the wreck, the coupe was parked beside Gene Winfield's shop in Modesto. It was eventually sold for scrap, and disappeared for several years.[1]

Sold to Timothy Carver Sr.

Timothy Carver Sr. of Canyon Lake, California bought the remains of the old hot rod around 1990. In 1995 he moved with his family to Fayetteville, Arkansas, bringing the car along. In 2018 Timothy's widow, Dyanna Carver, told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that her husband had plans to restore the car before he passed away from cancer in 2010; "We had too much fun with the old cars. We were also very busy with our son's baseball career, so this project was on hold"[3]

Rediscovered in Arkansas

After Timothy passed away, the coupe remained in Dyanna's chicken coop until she decided to sell it in 2014.[3] At the time it was essentially untouched since 1953. In April of 2014 Eric Arnette of Atlas Speed and Custom in Athens, Texas bought the car from the owner in Arkansas. When Eric bought the old hot rod, he was not aware about the history of the car. In 2016 he told Kustomrama "Random luck and research, due to the odd fact that the quarter windows had been filled in, led me to the magazine cover and Gene Winfield, who then connected me to Lew Thompson." The car was quickly verified, and Eric began a restoration. His goal was to return the car to the Grand National Roadster Show, 63 years later.[1]

The Restoration

The restoration of the old hot rod began at Atlas Speed and Custom in 2014. In the summer of 2015 Eric had completed the bodywork on the car, and he had Gene Winfield paint it. Early January of 2016 the restoration was completed, and the car was ready for it's comeback at the GNRS, 63 years after it won the Competition Coupe Class in 1953.[1]



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