What do you do when you find the remains of a 1937 Dodge sedan? If you’re EJ and Amy Fitzgerald of Cool Hand Customs in Middleton, WI, you drag it home and transform it into a custom sedan delivery.
To say the Dodge was rough would be an understatement. “I got the car in the shop and started to remove all of the rust,” EJ said. “When I was done and saw how little metal was left, I just dropped the tools and went home. It was bad!”
Bad perhaps, but nothing the Fitzgeralds couldn’t handle. EJ and Amy have been into hot rods and custom motorcycles from a young age, and tinkered with old iron when not running a construction business. When the economy tanked in 2008, so did the construction business. EJ and Amy decided to roll the dice and open a custom bike shop. Up came lucky sevens—the shop quickly expanded to include custom car builds and Cool Hand was on the map.
Once EJ recovered from his shock, the decision was made to turn the four-door Dodge into a custom two-door sedan delivery. Untold hours of fabrication included these mods:
- Welded rear door
- Fabricated trunk lid and floor, firewall, rear skirting, and other body panels
- Body channeled 8 inches
- Eliminated vent windows
- Custom side windows
Once the bodywork was finished, the Dodge was sprayed two-tone cream and tan with a gold separation along the belt line. The paint was custom-mixed by Specialist Paints.
The Dodge’s frame was reused as issued by the factory. Cool Hand Customs took the whole thing apart and gave the frame and chassis components a makeover with KBS products—Klean Surface Cleaner, Rust Blast, Frame Coater, Rust Seal, and TopKoat paint. The front and rear leaf spring suspension was retained, supplemented by Monroe shocks. Cool Hand even kept the stock drum brakes and manual steering.
The chassis is painted a classy copper flake over black (call it root beer), also custom-mixed by Specialist Paints. The whole shebang rides on 15 x 4.5-inch factory front and 15 x 8.5 slotted aluminum rims shod with Coker Classic bias-ply whitewall tires.
The Dodge came with a rebuilt 318 cubic inch small block backed by a four-speed transmission. Cool Hand left the engine’s insides alone, but added some go-fast parts including an Edelbrock Performer intake and 500 cfm carburetor, a Pertronix Ignitor electronic distributor conversion, Taylor ignition wires, Tuff Stuff 100-amp alternator, Powermaster Mastertorque gear reduction starter, and a Be Cool aluminum radiator.
EJ wanted to run T-bucket style headers on the Dodge, so he fabricated a set using a Summit Racing Sprint Car Header Kit and a pair of Patriot Performance header flanges. He then covered the headers with Thermo-Tech header wrap to keep the heat in the pipes and away from his tender skin.
The interior was Amy Fitzgerald’s domain. She built the front seats from “some import seats we had in the attic” and upholstery foam, then covered them with microfiber material in two-tone brown. The rear seats are wood-framed with foam. Most of the floor is custom oak planking with a splash of caramel-color carpet on the transmission tunnel and the toe board. The gauge insert is also custom oak, filled with a set of New Vintage USA Woodward Series gauges. A Grant wood steering wheel tops the stock steering column.
If you dig this Dodge—and why wouldn’t you—Summit Racing has created Cool Hand Customs 1937 Dodge Parts Combos that have the major upgrade parts used in the build. You don’t have to go all-out like EJ and Amy did, but you can get creative and use combos for most any mid- to late-1930s Dodge or Plymouth hot rod project.
So what’s next for Cool Hand Customs? Let’s just say it’s about 20 years newer and will sit very, very low. We’ll spill all the details as soon as we get them.