Dolores Swank's 1951 Ford Woody (from August 2002)

Dolores and Jim Swank have been married for 49 years now, and it was one of their earlier experiences that actually brought about the latest of their 9 current collector cars to be built, a 1951 Ford Woody. Back in 1956 Jim was in the Army, and stationed in Alaska. Upon discharge Jim took the expenses money the Army offered for them to get back home, and bought a 1951 Ford Woody. Jim, Dolores, and their then 6 month old son made the 5,000 miles trip back to New Jersey in the car, without a single problem. Remember too, that the roads weren’t exactly like driving on I-4, and included many gravel sections to be traversed. So when the idea came up to build Dolores a cool car, a ‘51 Ford Woody was chosen, and Doug Roberts of the Radical Rod Shop in Tavares would do the construction.

Underneath Doug replaced the stock front end with a Fat Man’s Mustang II unit, while out back the parallel leaf springs remain. Power is now supplied by a 350 cubic inch crate motor from GM, which puts out a healthy 330 horses. A 700R4 overdrive automatic was purchased from Fourth Gear in Apopka, and transfers the twist back to a 9 inch Ford rear end with 3.50 posi gears.

On the exterior Doug Roberts did all the body work in preparation for the 2002 Cadillac Polo Green light metallic paint, which included removing all the door handles, hood emblems, and various items for a clean look, plus ensuring that the entire body itself was smooth. As with any woody, the woodwork can make or break the look of the car, so Jim made sure it came out just right. It has contrasting light and dark woods, and is sealed with a smooth-as-glass durable finish, much to the chagrin of would be termites. A set of American 200S mags and great looking chrome items round out the exterior.

On the inside the original seats and trim were kept for a bit of a resto rod feel, with soft dark green Ultra Leather covering them. All the original gauges were rebuilt, a banjo style steering wheel sits atop an Ididt tilt column, entry is gained via electric door solenoids, and power windows add more modern convenience. On days where the cabin climate needs to be controlled, there is an air conditioning system, with custom outlets built into the bottom of the dash for a “factory” style look.

It took about 13 months to complete the project, and it came out beautiful. Though certainly more luxurious and powerful than their previous ‘51 Ford Woody, I’m sure it helps bring back a lot of fond memories. It also goes over well with everyone that sees it! CN