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Putting on a pretty face

By John Gunnell

Postwar Packard grille looks great on the prewar Ford coupe.

Postwar Packard grille looks great on the prewar Ford coupe.

As soon as we got to the Cheaterama—a traditional hot rod show in Milwaukee—a burgundy car parked near the entrance caught our eyes. It had the lines of a Ford, but it had put on a pretty face to get a little extra attention from enthusiasts who know a cool hot rod when they see one.

Whoever built the handsome five-window coupe had a keen eye for good design. He grafted an early postwar Packard grille shell into the nose of the Ford. The tall, thin, delicate grille looked right at home in the modified sheet metal panel under the tip of the Ford’s hood.

The car was also a bit cleaned up from stock appearance with a front end treatment that lacked factory bumper guards. Also missing was the regular hood ornament and some other bright work. Full wheel covers and wide whitewalls finished the car’s clean and classy theme.

Cool-looking rods like this one are pretty common at Cheaterama which takes place in the later part of August each year. The name comes from The Cheaters—a local hot rod club—and the show attracts an amazing amount of really outstanding “old school” hot rods.

The “pretty face” on this Ford reminded us of the early days of customizing when southern California shops such as Barris Kustoms were turning out some pretty nice looking cars by swapping parts like grilles and bumpers to help people personalize their rides at affordable cost. It takes some talent to do such swaps and the owner of this pretty face Ford has a lot to be proud of. It’s a honey!

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