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Hot Rod History

1936 Ford Jack Calori Coupe

1936 Ford Jack Calori Coupe


Long Beach native and WWII veteran Jack Calori was searching for a tow car for his famous Clay Smith-prepared 1929 Ford Model A racer when he discovered a 1936 Ford three-window coupe for sale by its original owner in 1947. It was not long before Calori’s friend, local body man Herb Reneau, convinced Calori that the Ford needed the custom treatment, and one of history’s most stunning custom 1936 Fords was born. Reneau installed a drop front axle and Z’d the frame at the rear to lower the car; chopped the top three inches, massaged the front end to accept a 1939 LaSalle front grille and 1941 Chevrolet headlights; added fender skirts, 1941 Hudson taillights and 1941 Ford bumpers with Lincoln overriders, and finished it off with lustrous Black paint.

Just prior to the car’s completion, Calori installed the race-prepped 1946 Mercury flathead from his 1929 Model A, giving it the power to run 114.50 MPH at a 1948 Russetta Timing Association meet. Racing revealed the flathead engine’s tendency to overheat, a problem caused by the La Salle grille’s smaller opening and the fact that there was no room for a fan in the engine compartment. Calori and his coupe made history the following year, appearing on the front cover of the November issue of Hot Rod magazine. Soon afterward Calori gave up on the car’s overheating problems and traded it for a $1,600 credit toward the purchase of a new 1950 Mercury. As so often happens, the car passed from one new owner to another until it was discovered in Spokane, Washington in the early 1990s and purchased by collector Don Orosco. In 2002, Orosco sold the coupe to its current owner, who commissioned hot rodding legend Roy Brizio to restore it in time to win the first-ever Early Custom Cars 1935-1948 Class and the Dean Bachelor Award at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where Brizio and Calori himself accepted the prizes.

The restored Calori Coupe serves as a window to the past, preserving all the details that make it a landmark machine in the hotrodding-customizing culture. It’s all there, including the Red “leatherette” interior and the thoroughly polished and chromed 1946 Mercury 59AB flathead engine complete with Clay Smith cam, Myer aluminum heads, Weiand intake and twin downdraft carburetors. It has been displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum as a living piece of hot rod history and was featured on the front cover of the prestigious Rodders Journal, Issue 31.

- November 1949 Hot Rod Magazine Cover Car
- Built by Jack Calori and Herb Reneau
- Restored by Roy Brizio
- 2005 Best in Class at Pebble Beach
- Bored and stroked 1946 Mercury 59AB engine
- Clay Smith cam, Eddie Meyer heads
- Lincoln distributor, Weiand intake
- Nearly every engine accessory was polished or chromed
- 3" chopped top, dropped front axle
- Clamshell hood, Buick teardrop skirts
- 1939 LaSalle grille, 1940 Chevy headlights
- 1941 Ford bumpers, 1941 Hudson tail lights
- Dark Red Leatherette interior with Ivory trim
- Featured on the cover of Rodders Journal Number 31

This car was auctioned in November 2012 by Mecum Auctions and sold for $300,000!

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