Jon Grinager's 1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe
1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe owned and built by Jon Grinager of Farmington, Michigan. Jon was a sophomore at Farmington High School near Detroit when he bought the coupe in 1956. He brought the car to his school shop class, where he and his teenage friends, over the next few years, transformed the beaten old coupe into a hot rod. During the build, a 1948 Mercury Flathead engine found its way between the boxed frame rails. They used what he had available when they built the coupe, and the inner part of the firewall was made out of an aluminum baking sheet. The tunnel over the driveshaft was a piece of chimney tubing. The vehicle's eye-catching, low silhouette was achieved through a 7-inch channel, Z'd frame rails, and a 4 1/2-inch chop. Rumors persist that the chop might have been the handiwork of Detroit legends Mike and Larry Alexander of Alexander Brothers Custom Shop. According to Jon's nephew and later caretaker of the coupe, Tanner Kucharek, Jon wasn't a member of a club, but he did have a lot of interactions with The Roman's club out of the Detroit-area.
After graduating, Jon went to Vietnam in 1966, often writing home about his beloved boat and hot rod. Upon his return, the car became his sanctuary, aiding him as he battled PTSD. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Grinager modified the vehicle, boring out the 239 Flathead engine to 286 and also upgrading its front suspension to a four-link setup and contemporizing its appearance with a fresh coat of orange paint and lots of chrome.
Abandonment and Rediscovery
Unfortunately, it didn't take long before the new paint began to flake from the metal. Disheartened by the unsuccessful paint job and grappling with PTSD, Grinager ceased work on his hot rod. For 30 years, the car languished at the back of his garage until his passing in 2015. Jon left the old hot rod for his nephews, Tanner and Logan Kucharek, knowing of their great interest in it. "We have since restored it at Brother's Custom Automotive," Tanner told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2022.
The Restoration: An Ode to the Past
Under the guidance of Bill Jagenow at Brothers Custom Automotive, the Kucharek brothers' vision for the car began to take shape. They re-engineered and refreshed the 286 Flathead and introduced new components, including custom Offenhauser cylinder heads, a Kiwi L100 cam and new Stromberg carburetors. One unique feature they introduced was using 1941 (Jon's birth year) wheat pennies in the intake manifold exhaust crossover tube to alter the car's exhaust tone. In terms of aesthetics, the brothers opted for Volvo Saffron Metallic paint, a nod to the car's previous bold red/orange hue that it had worn in the 1950s. Jagenow did only spray the basecoat, without a clear or polishing, in order to give it the look of a 1950s driveway paint job. During the restoration, they also integrated contemporary updates, including a 12-volt electrical system, an electric fan, and a new Stromberg E-Fire ignition. Some of the 1980s elements were also scrapped, such as the four-link suspension, which was switched back to split wishbones. It was dressed up with skinny bias-ply Firestone tires that rolled on painted 16-inch steel wheels with 1947 - 1948 Mercury hubcaps.
A Detroit Legend Returns
The response was overwhelmingly positive when the Shop Class Coupe debuted at the Detroit Autorama in 2022. The Kucharek brothers had not only resurrected an iconic vehicle but also continued their uncle's legacy.
A Fitting Tribute
While the car's appearance at the Detroit Autorama was its first public outing since the late 1970s, the brothers' efforts ensure that the legacy of their uncle and the golden age of Detroit hot rodding live on. Tanner and Logan's thoughtful restoration process, balancing historical homage with personal touches, has ensured the Shop Class Coupe's status as an enduring symbol of Detroit's storied automotive past.
The Alexander Brothers Connection
During the restoration, Tanner spoke with the remaining connections to his uncle and his hot rod and learned that it was allegedly chopped at the legendary Alexander Brothers shop in Detroit. "That would have been 1957; the best years of the A Brother's business. The man that told me this worked alongside my uncle in high school on this coupe. He swears by it. The only problem is there is no way to prove that they did the chop. There's no paperwork or mark to authenticate it. The timeline works."
Can You Help Authenticate the Alexander Brothers Chop?
Tanner and Logan have been following every lead they can to authenticate the chop, "however, the brothers have both passed, and we aren't sure where to go from there. We have talked with a few weathered gearheads who agree it looks like an A Brother chop, but no way to confirm." Please get in touch with Kustomrama at email@example.com if you have any leads that could help solve this mystery.
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