1934 Chevrolet Master Coupe featuring Ford grille and Hemi engine

For 25 years, it just sat in a field.

The 1934 Chevrolet Master Coupe took a beating from the elements. It even got shot—maybe by hunters, maybe in a mob shooting, or maybe by some Chevy-hating Ford fanatic.

But there were bullet holes.

Enter John T. Francis, a car enthusiast from Portage Lakes, OH who has been dreaming up his perfect car since he was a model-building 8-year-old.

“I found it on eBay,” Francis said. “It was cheap, looked just like a Ford, and it was steel.”

Take a good look at this thing and it won’t take long to realize you’ve never seen anything like it before.

Funny thing about that hypothetical gun-toting Ford fanatic—this car gets mistaken for a Ford all the time. In addition to Ford and Chevy having similar body styles in 1934, this car actually sports a Ford grille.

And you don’t have to be a Ford or Chevy expert to recognize the roar of his bored and stroked 392 Hemi circa 1957.

Basically, Francis built the Edward Scissorhands of automobiles, only with fewer scratches and a lot more muscle.

Perhaps the vehicle’s most unique feature is the Lenco supercharger—one of only 10 ever made, and one of only three known to still exist, according to Francis, who said the car makes right around 1,000 horsepower.

“I haven’t been on the dyno, but no one’s doubting that I’m making it,” he said.

A few bullet holes would actually fit right in on this ’34—one of the toughest, meanest machines we’ve ever seen. Francis is anything but a conformist. We’ve met a lot of Chevy, Ford, and Mopar enthusiasts. While some build their cars under an honor code loyal to their preferred make, Francis isn’t like that.

He lives by a code, too. Only it involves doing whatever he wants.

“When it came time to put anything on it, I used whatever I thought looked the coolest,” he said. “It’s definitely neat. Anywhere I go, people go crazy. Especially that I drive it on the street.

“My neighbors absolutely hate me. And I’m very good friends with all the Summit County sheriffs at this point.”

The truth is, Francis only takes the car out a couple times a year, cruising around the lakes peppered throughout his community.

“The car’s really useless,” he said. “It’s not a drag car. I’m not going to stomp and pound on it. I can’t really hop in and go on a Sunday cruise.”

Sometimes, the best things in life aren’t necessarily useful, or practical, or something you need.

“I started when I was young—7 or 8 years old—thinking about the car I want,” he said. “I’ve built a ton of cars. But this is my keeper. This is my baby.”

Sometimes, the best things in life are simply something you want.


Vehicle Specifications

Year: 1934

Make: Chevrolet

Model: Master Coupe

Owner: John T. Francis

Hometown: Portage Lakes, OH

Engine: 1957 392 Hemi, bored and stroked to 472 cubic inches

Reciprocating Assembly: Billet Velasco crankshaft, Wiseco pistons, Eagle rods

Owner note: “This has a 4 ½-inch stroke, which is monstrous for that motor.”

Cylinder Heads: 1954 331 Hemi

Cam and Valvetrain: COMP Cams solid roller camshaft, Hot Heads Billet rockers, Manley valves, Crane roller lifters

Induction: Hot Heads intake, Lenco-built supercharger

Owner note: “This is a custom-made intake with three Rochester 2Gs that has been reworked to flow enough air to feed the engine. We built this car piece by piece.”

Power Adders: Owner note: “Just that Lenco blower. It makes about 18 pounds of boost.”

Ignition Components: Old-style Joe Hunt Magneto

Cooling Components: Griffin radiator

Tranmission: Lenco transmission, Hays clutch

Oiling Components: Melling pump

Engine Work By: Anton Lanesky

Front Suspension Type: Spring-behind straight axle

Rear Suspension Type: Winters nine-inch housing with four-link

Brakes: Front – Total Performance; Rear – Wilwood

Rear Axle and Gears: Strange rear axle; Richmond 4:30 gears

Wheel/Tire: Front wheels – Radir 18×3, Rear wheels – Halibrand, Rear tires – Goodyear Eagle 33×12

Owner note: “I have no idea what tires are on the front.”

Editor’s note: The front tires appear to be Bridgestone Accolades motorcycle tires. Which only adds to the madness. And by madness, we really mean awesomeness.

Body Modifications: Owner note: “We chopped the top 3 ¾ inches. Mat Thrasher and I did it in two weekends. Two long weekends, of course. Al Morgan set the chassis up and did the cage.”

Paint: Summit Racing black

Gauges: Old Stewart Warner gauges

Shifter: Lenco shifter

Owner note: “The shifter is relatively rare, especially on a street car. You usually see them in a pro mod or top alcohol funny car.”

Upholstery: Owner note: “Rick the Upholsterer—that’s what people call him—did the headliner in the car. And it was difficult because there’s a lot of roll cage. He did a really good job.”

Other Modifications: Red plexiglass windows

Owner note: “Just something different. Kind of the 1960’s look. Was the thing to do back then. I tried not to use any part that was newly manufactured. I tried to keep everything old school.”

Horsepower: 1,000 horsepower

Torque: 600-700 foot-pounds

Quarter-mile performance: Incomplete

Owner note: “Last time I had it out, we were at 112 miles per hour at 1/8 of a mile. We pushed out the head gasket and water got on the rear tires. The car made a turn for the wall. That’s the last time I had it out.”

Awards: 1st place, Street Rod, 2010 Cleveland Autorama

Years to Build: Six years

Owner note: “That was six years of non-stop work and gathering parts.”

Any Other Vehicles Built: Owner note: “We don’t have the time.”

Next Project: Adding a jet engine to the Pocket Rocket—a rocket-powered funny car driven by Larry Nagel that was famous in the early 1980s until hydrogen peroxide was outlawed as a racing fuel.

Owner note: “The original chassis is on display in the Don Garlits museum.”

Special Thanks: Minute Men Staffing Services, Anton Lanesky, Rick the Upholsterer, Al Morgan, Mat Thrasher, wife Lindsey Francis, daughter Mia Francis

Owner note: “In addition to all the help she provides around here, Lindsey backs up funny cars in her spare time. Mia is 8 years old. So she’s like at the perfect age to start molding.”

Author: Matt Griswold

After a 10-year newspaper journalism career, Matt Griswold spent another decade writing about the automotive aftermarket and motorsports. He was part of the original OnAllCylinders editorial team when it launched in 2012.