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Wayne Frankhauser's 1946 Ford Convertible
(from Volume 14, Issue 160)

In talking with Wayne Frankhauser, he told us he could be the poster boy for “One weird car guy”. He started doing custom mods in high school, and continued into college. Learning by trial and error, and achieving modest results. The subjects included a ‘47 Chevy truck, a new ‘57 Chevy, ‘58 Chevy, and a basket case Austin Healy 100. Then Wayne went through decades of “Volkswagen Fever”, rebuilding wrecks, building dune buggies, then building something called a Sterling - a wild kit car that looked like something from outer space. Wayne built a strong, hopped up VW engine for the Sterling, kept it for 5 years, then sold it to a buddy who drove it for another 20 years. He guessed his building skills were improving....then he built a mid-engined VW with a custom frame and a 455 cubic inch Olds Toronado engine and transmission. He told us results were mixed, at best.

Then sanity began creeping in (his words, not ours). He discovered Street Rods in the late 1980’s, and bought a half finished ‘40 Ford 2-Door Sedan. It had a beautiful chopped top and sorted out running gear, so he finished the bodywork with frenched headlights and nice paint. Once completed he drove it for 20,000 miles, then got the bug to build the ‘46 Ford convertible you see here.

Wayne bought the car in Georgia, where it had spent all of its life. The floors, firewall and rockers had been replaced, and the ‘94 Corvette LT1 engine installed - though mated to an old TH350 automatic at the time, which was later replaced by a 4L60E with a shift kit.

The body was already painted, but after trucking it back to Illinois (where he lived at the time) the bodywork began to crack before it was even on the road....so everything was stripped and he started from scratch. Then came all the mods, which is a lengthy list. They include a 2-inch top chop, molding the rear fenders to the body, and shaving the doors, hood and trunk. Up front you’ll find a custom grill, stylish scoops in the side to match, and a set of frenched in and cut down Taurus headlights. The rear bumper was shortened and reshaped, with ‘50 Chevy bumper guards used for the license plate area. Wayne sprayed the Dupont Mulberry Magenta Pearl paint himself, which certainly catches your eye, along with a low stance thanks to air bags. Up front now resides Mustang II suspension, out back is a 9-inch Lincoln Versaille rear end with 3.70:1 gears, and disc brakes are at all four corners.

Inside you’ll find a custom dash, custom console, Camaro power seats, power windows, and Vintage Air. The interior and top were constructed by Rolff Upholstery, and Wayne wanted to be sure and extend a special thanks to Kirk Stang of Kirks Hot Rod Shop in Aroma Park, Illinois for his frame construction, wiring, and many other contributions during the construction.

Upon buying the car, Wayne thought he would be finished with it in a year. Instead completion came six years later. Part of the problem was that he was still gainfully employed, fooling with the mid-engined VW, trading the VW for a ‘42 Ford pickup, and learning to weld.

Of course Wayne finally did finish the ‘46 Ford convertible in 2001, and has driven it for over 11,000 miles. Since then Wayne and his buddy also built a ‘32 Ford Roadster they thought was beyond nice, with some great mods and an absolute killer air cleaner. They could barely sell it for what they had in parts....and even heard it came to Florida.

Wayne moved to Florida three years ago and drove his ‘46 Ford convertible down, but everything else stayed in Illinois. One thing he was proud of recently was buying a shell of a ‘73 GMC pickup and teaching his grandson bodywork. They chopped the top, shaved everything, and installed a late model bed, among other things.....so the beat goes on.CN