These days, when you can build an entire car from a catalog, you need to separate your rod from the pack. The very best rods are those that are built around a theme, with a unifying design that makes them seem unique, and not just a collection of aftermarket parts assembled in someone's garage. This pro-built 1933 Ford 3-window coupes unifying theme is high-tech, from the super-sanitary Mercedes-Benz silver paint, to the restrained use of chrome, to the Ultralight gauges used inside, it's the exact opposite of the current "retro" fad sweeping through the hobby and it's downright awesome.

The first thing you notice is the color; what a refreshing change to not see another black or red '33 Ford. Don't get me wrong, traditional colors work just fine, but sometimes when you want to stand out in a crowd, subtlety is the best way to do it. The Outlaw 3-window body is one of the best ones in the industry, with excellent panel fit and beefy construction that lets you put it on the road with confidence. But it wasn't used as it came out of the box the body was extensively modified first. The rear fenders were shortened 5.5 inches; a custom rear pan was installed with a flip-up license plate holder, and was molded to specifically show off the trick independent suspension underneath. 4-inch wheel tubs were installed out back to leave a little extra room for those beefy rear tires. Up front, a Rootlieb hood was installed using a Hagan double hood latch assembly. Then it was all beautifully prepped and finished by experts before a drop of that PPG Mercedes silver urethane was sprayed. Once it cured, the entire car, top and bottom, was color-sanded and buffed to an incredible shine wish the exterior of my car looked as good as the bottom of this Outlaw!

Of course, subtle doesn't mean you have to skip the eye candy and details. Dressing up the front is a Jim Rench custom grille insert, and Jesse Greening supplied the headlights and taillights. An exceptional detail you might not notice ordinarily is that the trim rings on the headlights and taillights are billet, and are threaded to screw into place, leaving a clean surface with no clips or fasteners visible the true essence of hot-rodding. Look closer and you'll also find that all the nuts and bolts are polished stainless steel 12-points for a highly-detailed appearance.

For motivation, this car continued with the high-tech theme, using a 2009 LS376 Corvette crate engine that's rated at 515 horsepower. Using individual ignition coils on each cylinder, just like the new cars do, it starts, idles, and runs like a factory-built piece (which, of course, it is). Instead of hiding the ignition coils under some kind of fiberglass cover, the builders instead went the other direction and highlighted the feature with trick custom-built screens that clean up the engine bay without obscuring the mechanicals. Again, too cool and completely modern. Innovation is not dead! Look around the highly detailed engine bay and you'll also find a Billet Specialties serpentine belt system, a custom air breather box by Jesse Greening, a polished oil pan, and a lot more of that PPG Mercedes Silver. Exhaust is handled by a set of gorgeous Sanderson headers dumping into a polished stainless steel exhaust system with MagnaFlow mufflers. Everything is either polished or painted silver, leaving an engine bay that has already won a ton of awards.

The chassis is just as spectacular. I already mentioned that the bottom of the car has been wet-sanded and polished like the top, and that the exhaust system is 100% polished stainless steel with cool NASCAR-style tips dumping in front of the rear wheels, but there's so much more to see. The transmission is a 700 R4 4-speed automatic, which cruises easily but snaps off race-quality shifts when your foot is buried in the carburetor. Up front, there's a Kugel independent front suspension featuring coil-over shocks and polished tubular stainless A-arms. Out back, the frame was narrowed 4 inches on each side to house a matching Kugel independent setup that includes inboard disc brakes no wonder they modified the rear pan to show it off! All the brake lines, drive shaft and half shafts, 3rd member, coil-overs and suspension components have been highly polished to glitter like jewelry under there. There are 3.73 gears in the pumpkin, which are an excellent choice when you have an overdrive transmission to cruise the highways. Wheels are Billet Specialty Legacy II measuring 17x6 up front and a massive 20x12 out back. Tires are BFGoodrich performance radials, 195/60/17 in front and 295/40/20 in back to create a traditional "big-n-little" combination with a 21st century spin.

Inside you'll find one of the most gorgeous interiors I've ever seen in any car, not just a street rod not even Rolls-Royce is crafting passenger spaces like this. Chuck Hanna Interiors of Mooresville, NC is credited with the work, and it's a deep saddle colored leather on all surfaces, with different textures and finishes to create highlights and interest. The door panels have been embossed and feature three polished pieces designed to mimic those on the screens in the engine bay. The seats are incredibly comfortable buckets that show zero wear, and the console was custom fabricated to be unobtrusive, yet functional. Matching the high-tech look is a brushed aluminum finish to the dash and console. Gauges are AutoMeter Ultralights arrayed in front of the driver, while Vintage Air supplied the A/C system, vents and controls. Of course, power windows, power locks, and remote door openers are standard equipment in a car of this caliber. There's a Lokar shifter, a tilt steering column and a billet steering wheel wrapped in matching dark saddle leather. Overhead, the custom-made headliner integrates a consolette that mounts the Alpine CD stereo system, and again, the three metal trim pieces are you sensing a theme yet? Good, because it continues in the fully upholstered trunk, which features several storage compartments and more of that metal trim, as well as a subtle Ford badge.

Documentation, as you might imagine, is extensive, including all the books, manuals, and instructions that came with the components. There are detailed receipts for the parts and labor, and a thick stack of build photos so you can see this car coming together every step of the way. A new owner will know this car inside and out every bit as well as the guy who built it. And, in case I haven't mentioned it before, this car has won a lot of awards, including a 2010 Shades of the Past Top 25 winner.

I'm flat-out blown away by this '33 Ford. There are so many tricks in it that I've never seen before that it should be used as a "how-to" guide for the new rod builder on how to do things nobody else has done before. From the subtle exterior to the mind-blowing interior to the powerful and streetable engine, there aren't many rods out there nicer than this one. The amount of hand-fabrication that went into its construction is astounding, and it is most certainly NOT one of those cookie-cutter rods that guys are building in their home garages. I don't know what it cost to build, but if someone said it was a quarter million bucks, I wouldn't be a bit surprised it sure looks like a million bucks. Fully sorted, tested, and ready to cruise and win awards, I can guarantee you'll be the only kid on your block with one of these. Take this subtle and high-tech to the next show, and watch it stand out from among all the retro-rods and red and black 3-window coupes. Call now!

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1933 Ford 3-Window

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