Mike & Kathy Sydney's 1936 Ford Roadster
(from Volume 21, Issue 261)

story and photos by Michael B. Kelly


Mike Sydney started out like many hot rodders, being influenced by his older brother. In Mike’s case his brother was a founding member, along with Don Schumacher (who later went on to fame in NHRA drag racing), of the Gass Hoppers Car Club of Morton Grove, Illinois....where they sponsored the Chicago World of Wheels Auto Shows in the early 1960’s. Mike tagged along to car shows, drag races, go cart races, and anything that had to do with cool cars. He remembers at about 12 years old, spray painting flames on his dads ’52 Dodge.

In high school Mike teamed with two other buddies to build a 1936 Chevy Coupe, which they purchased for $200. Lucky for him, Mike was the only one that knew how to drive a stick shift. In the 70’s, with his growing passion, and now living in Florida, Mike became the co-owner with his also still passionate brother of the Tampa and Atlanta World of Wheels Auto Shows.

After college and now being married, Mike surprised his wife with a ‘34 Plymouth Sedan for her 21st birthday. Since then, they have never been without a hot rod or three. There was a 1918 T Coupe, 1937 Ford Coupe, 1966 Vette, 1989 Vette, 1999 Vette, 1929 A Roadster, 1933 Ford Cabriolet, 1940 Ford Tudor, 1951 Ford Vickey, 1957 Buick (which graced the cover of Mike Kelly’s Cruise News about 15 years ago), and now the ‘36 Ford Roadster.

Mike told us he is fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet some of the great car builders in the world such as George Barris, Gene Winfield, Chip Foose, and many of today’s Young Guns, which afforded him the opportunity to strive to build a better ride as he matured. Mike does enjoy the build, and looks for comfort along with style, dependability, and uniqueness when choosing his projects. Since his cars are built for the long haul, he wants the ride to be soft with plenty of leg room, and a drive train that will carry him anywhere there are paved roads….since he doesn’t own a trailer. Many days of research went into coming up with the best choices to try and match the pictures in his head.

Powering his 1936 Ford Roadster is a blueprinted 350 cubic inch Chevy with an Edelbrock 600cfm carb, MSD electronic ignition, polished stainless exhaust and mufflers by Stainless Specialties, and a Turbo 350 automatic. Underneath you’ll find a chassis by Fat Cat Rods, which utilizes Fat Man tubular front A-Arms, rack and pinion steering, a narrowed 9-inch Ford rear end with 3.00:1 gears, and Air Ride Technologies ShockWave air shocks all around.

The chassis and body work was completed in Mike’s home garage before sending it to Jim Tully at Jim’s Quality Auto Body. There it received a smooth Jet Black base coat / clear coat paint job, accented by traditional style steel wheels painted tan with chrome dog dish style hub caps and beauty rings, and wrapped with Coker whitewall tires. Upon its return, Mike installed a Ron Francis wiring harness before sending it to Street Seats. They treated it to buckskin leather upholstery with stainless accents, Mercedes close weave carpet, Infinity power seats, a black Hartz cloth convertible top, and a 1,000 watt Memphis Audio system with an MP3 player. Other items of note inside the cabin include a 1949 Ford dash with instruments by Willie Hartshorn, a small floor console that houses the air ride gauges and controls, banjo style steering wheel on a tilt column, billet accents, plus Vintage air and heat.

We could go on and on listing every detail about Mike’s ride, but when it comes down to it Mike assured us that he thinks the best part of having a hot rod is being able to drive it and enjoy it along with your buddies. That includes many days spent “Bench Racing”, road tours to distant rod runs, broken knuckles, searching for a rare barn find, the good deals....and the bad ones. It’s all that combined that makes the blood flow in our veins, and the fires stoked to keep up the hot rodding tradition! CN