Ragan Brown's 1933 Ford Hiboy Coupe
(from Volume 21, Issue 262)

story by owner Ragan Brown • photos by Michael B. Kelly


I was a Navy Brat and we moved around a lot, as my dad was an Officer. Once he retired and the family moved to Florida, I got involved with horseback riding competitively, and I had a mini bike with a Briggs & Stratton motor that I tore up the back roads with. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with hot rods and muscle cars. I used to sit in my driveway and listen to the cars with the loud mufflers or with open exhaust cruise by. I got pretty good at identifying what type of car was about to cruise by the house. However, at the time I was too young to drive.

When I got a bit older, I sold my horse, and traded in my “horse power” for a different kind. I found helping my brother wrench on his Chevelles (a 1965 and 1966, both with 396 cubic inch motors) and his 1969 Camaro Z/28 was a lot more fun. He taught me what to look for when he went looking for his next purchase. That included what to listen for in the engine, and where to check for rust; along the windows, quarter panels, floor pans, etc. We would time them, adjust the clutch, even paint the engine bays - whatever was needed for it to look great and to get the utmost performance. But most importantly, it had to be “loud!”. Since he never got a brother, I had to do, as my little sister had no interest.

My brother dated my best friend, so when they would go to the track for racing or just spectating, I would rig a rope in the trunk of his Chevelle and hide inside while “hitching” a ride. She never told him - it was our secret. I would stay in the trunk until the coast was clear. Then I’d pop out and go watch the races. I’d always tell him my friends took off without me, so he’d begrudgingly bring me back home. Surprising, to this day, he never found out.

My Dad wouldn’t allow me to buy a muscle car, but he OK’d a 1962 Volkswagen. I paid $150 for it, raised by mowing lawns and washing cars. I was only 16 at the time, but I was the only girl at my age that had her own car. It was a real beater, but she was mine! About the same time the movie American Graffiti hit the theatres. I was hooked! I knew someday, I would have a hot rod like John Milner.

When I went off to college, someone backed into my Gremlin’s bumper and instead of fixing it, I went out and bought a motorcycle to tool around the college with. I used to park it inside my efficiency apartment, bought a manual for it, and started replacing the brake lines, clutch, etc. I really enjoyed that little bike, and I loved “tinkering” with it. It had a dent in the tank and needed to be painted. So I called a friend that owned a body shop and he taught me how to use Bondo. I fixed it up, and being a Fine Arts major, I decided to paint it myself. I masked it and painted it black with flames. We used lacquer back then, first try, it came out beautiful. I put about 7 layers of clear coat on it and cleaned up the chrome and it was a real beauty!

After finishing college and starting a career in teaching art, my boyfriend of many years died suddenly. I decided life was too short; it was time to pursue my dream. Unfortunately, with a teacher’s salary, I couldn’t quite afford a custom built hot rod at that time. Then a couple of years back some of my friends were going to the Mecum Auction in Kissimmee, so just for fun I looked at their website. And there it was, 5 pages in on the website, I spotted my “dream car”....a 1933 Ford Hiboy Coupe. I knew it HAD to be mine! I took a loan out against my 401K and quickly called Mecum and registered as a bidder. Some of my “car buddies” came with me, and we really looked the car over and decided this was the one. I was NOT leaving her behind, so a deal was struck and we brought her home.

It has a ZZ454 Chevrolet Performance big block crate motor with a hydraulic roller camshaft that was dynoed at 477 horsepower. The ZZ454 is matched with higher-flow, oval port aluminum cylinder heads for an additional 15 horses, creating 500 lb.-ft. of torque, and a Holley 750 double pumper carb atop an aluminum intake manifold. Sanderson Headers and MagnaFlow exhaust route the spent gasses, while the power is passed back thru a Turbo 400 Transmission and Strange 9-inch posi rear end.

The car utilizes a Pete & Jake’s frame with a Super Bell chrome dropped front axle, polished chrome upper and lower control arms, polished coilover shocks, and a stainless steel fuel tank. The underside is finished to show condition, and atop the frame sits a Gibbon fiberglass body with suicide doors, and the eye-catching paint color is GM Corvette Atomic Orange Metallic. To that was added commercial Ford stainless headlights with turn signals, custom polished aluminum E-T mag wheels from Team III (17-inch front, 20-inch rear). Inside you’ll find a custom leather interior that features a polished aluminum tilt steering column capped off with a billet wheel, white faced gauges in a billet bezel, power windows, power door locks, Vintage Air, and a Pioneer custom stereo. Upon opening the trunk, you’ll find it is done up in matching leather, completing the package.

It’s a fun car to tool around in and I must say, “I love my little hot rod!”. It’s been 43 years in the making, but I finally got her! My dream hot rod! Now I’m searching for my next beauty, a 1963 split window Corvette. It could happen, after all dreams do come true! -Ragan Brown