The owner and builder is referring to the excessive amount of cutting, chopping, sectioning, welding and molding that went into modifying factory (or “original”) parts to create a one-of-a-kind piece — what the Webster’s New World Dictionary defines as an original.
Of the 85,111 six-passenger Club Coupes Ford produced in 1950, not one of them bears any resemblance to the low-slung vehicle Wortman will be driving to the Food Lion AutoFair. Wortman chopped the top four inches in order to give the car’s profile a more streamlined, athletic look. The body was “sectioned” four inches, which means the fenders, doors and trunk lid had that much metal removed from their midsections before being re-installed on the chassis. To achieve that “speeding while sitting still” illusion, Wortman stretched the rear quarter panels, effectively adding two inches to the car’s overall length.
Once he had the basic profile complete, Wortman got busy addressing each detail of the Ford’s exterior. The headlights were “frenched” — an age-old customizing technique that recesses certain accessories and features while removing chrome bezels and fittings — as were the antenna, parking lights, taillamps and license plate. The ’50 Ford’s chrome-heavy front end was stripped of the shiny stuff and trimmed for a more modern look. Like everything else on the car, the “hockey stick” chrome trim running down the side, the fender skirts and the simple grille bar were built from scratch and imagination. The bright red paint seems to further exaggerate the coupe’s length.
Power comes from a Ford V-8 that feeds into a late-model Thunderbird automatic transmission for smooth shifts. The engine compartment was smoothed and painted, with tasteful touches of polished aluminum and chrome applied conservatively throughout. A reworked suspension cut a few inches out of the car’s ground clearance.
The interior offers more creature comfort and luxury than Henry Ford ever intended, with thickly padded bucket seats wrapped in a beautiful white vinyl. Sound-deadening materials and wall-to-wall carpeting make for a quiet ride. The project took three years to complete, and Wortman is the first to point out that he didn’t do it all by himself.
“Bill Cassidy, from Belmont, did most of the body welding,” the owner said. “He’s as good as any of the California crowd. Randy Leonard, from Bessemer City, painted the flames. Dean Hance, also out of Bessemer, did the interior work.”
Wortman’s final act of turning his once-original Ford into a true original was done through the Department of Motor Vehicles, where he applied for the license plate that he felt would explain everything: CUTUP-50.
Food Lion AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $8 for adults; children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5. For more information on the four-day event, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit the website at www.gospeedway.com.