1937 Ford custom convertible


ARLINGTON, TX — Having your car or truck displayed on the turntables at a Summit Racing retail store is a unique opportunity. Having your vehicle chosen for a coveted turntable spot at the grand opening of Summit Racing’s newest, largest store?

Well—for Don Silaff, it was a dream come true.

“It’s not just an honor, it’s a pleasure,” said Silaff of his 1937 Ford convertible’s place on the turntable at Summit Racing’s Arlington store. “Just to be invited to be on the turntable—if you had a bucket list item, that would be on the top of the list. And with the grand opening, it’s even bigger!”

Take one look at Silaff’s “new-stalgia” ’37 Ford street rod, and you know the honor was well earned.

It features a Gibbons fiberglass main body and fenders, along with an original steel hood, grille, side panels, inner fenders and very rare locking hood ornament that Ford produced.

The body sits atop a fully custom and braced Chubby Chassis with triangulated four-bar rear chassis with Aldan American coil-overs front and rear. Wilwood polished brakes provide the stopping power with a unique dual-caliper setup on the rear brakes.

“One caliper is a hydraulic emergency brake because I didn’t want cables and I didn’t want the internal brake system on the back,” Silaff said. “So I ended up using the original ’37 Ford pull handle and then mounted a reservoir under the dash and use a bell crank system to operate it. And I just use a hard line like you would for normal brakes.”

Silaff had the body sprayed in an understated green hue.

“I wanted to have something that wasn’t really a street rod color,” Silaff said. “You see the bright colors in street rods mostly—reds and yellows—and they’re beautiful. But I tried to do it in more of a classic color. I went through about four or five colors before I came up with this 2002 Volkswagen color called Fresco Green. I think (it works with) the dark green top and the green paint.

Silaff tried to maintain the original look as much as possible, but added a few of his own touches to earn it that “new-stalgia” moniker.

“I have the covered running boards,” he said. “I still have the bumpers, which most people take off, and I still have the taillights. The only thing that’s different on the outside that you’d notice from afar is the top is chopped 2 inches. I have the oval window on the back instead of the rectangular, and the wheels and the mirrors are the only other things that are not original looking about the car.”

Silaff also converted the original Cabriolet-style rumble seat into a trunk and upholstered the interior with custom-dyed leather. Under the hood, he went with a 355-horsepower Chevy 350 ZZ4 crate engine. A GM 700-R4 transmission sends power back to a Ford 9-inch rear-end with 3.70 gears.

“It drives really nice,” he said. “I have it set up so its a fairly stiff ride, which I like It does drive on the road really well—in fact, it’s probably more comfortable than my daily car.

Silaff said he drives his ’37 Ford up to 2 1/2 hours away for shows around the Dallas area, and it’s received two Builder’s Choice Awards at the Texas Goodguys Show.

“It’s a pleasure to have something for people to look at, and most people seem to like it,” he said.

Silaff’s ’37 Ford convertible will be on display at Summit Racing throughout October.

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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.