Rich Vachata's 1936 Ford
1936 Ford convertible owned and restyled by Bearing Busters of Berwyn member Rich Vachata of Berwyn, Illinois. Rich bought the Ford from a fellow club member as a basket case in the 1950s. With help from his best buddy Bob Borvansky the car was stripped for paint before new floor panels were installed. When new floors were in, the rest of the club helped Rich install a complete Chevrolet 265 driveline so he could get the car road worthy again. The body work was done by Wilard Kirshbaum of Cicero, Illinois. Rich always liked the Packard grill, and he found a 1942 Packard Clipper in a local graveyard he could take the grille from. A new top and interior were installed before Rich could take his car to the first few shows in 1959. The upholstery was done by Herb Barenbrook of Temme Top & Trim in Oak Park, Illinois in green and white Naugahyde. The tuck and roll interior in the Beach Comber came out great, and it was photographed by Monogram Models in the late 1950s, who used it as inspiration for the interior in their models during that era.
At the shows, the convertible didn't attract as much attention as Rich had hoped for, and it didn't win any trophies, so his club buddies told him that he had to get it scalloped. He followed their advice, and fellow club member Dave Puhl, of Trend Automotive gave the car a scallop paint job in 1960. This version of the '36 became known as "The Beach Comber".
In 1961 Rich and his best buddy Bob joined the Army, and the Beach Comber was put in storage. In 1963 a letter and a photo from Rich was printed in the "Post Entry" section in Hot Rod Magazine August 1963. By then the car ran a 1957 Chevrolet 283 with a Duntov cam, solids, three deuces, a 1957 Chevrolet transmission and a 3.55 rear end. He ran 8.20 x 15 Royal Masters on the rear, and 6.70 x 15's up front. According to the letter, Rich had spent $3000 on the car to date, and he was planning on rebuilding it in the near future.
Rich's son, Richard Vachata, Jr., remember the '36 as a kid growing up. From the time he was born in 1965 that car was all he knew, and he remembers his dad starting it in on weekends to go for a ride. The windows in the house would shake and rattle, and it was Rich's first taste of V8 power. Nothing was better than cruising around the town with the top down or sitting in the rumble seat. Around 1975, Rich's buddy Bob talked Rich into letting him buy the convertible. Reluctantly, he gave in, figuring he would at least still be connected to the '36. After some updating, new paint, mag wheels, a new steering column and nerf bars, Bob got tired of the car, and offered it back to Rich. The price was too high for Rich, and the '36 went to a new owner. Both Bob and Rich eventually lost track of their favorite ride, regretting that they ever sold it. To the day Bob passed away in 2010 he expressed his regret to Rich about selling the '36.
Where is it Now?
Rich and his family is currently looking for the Beach Comber. If you know what happened to it please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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