This article on Rich's '34 coupe was originally published issue 11 of Street Machine's Hot Rod magazine, 2013
HAVE you ever met someone who makes it all look so damn easy? Someone with the vision and talent to turn figments of their wild imagination into reality? If not, then I recommend Googling the work of Ed Umland, master fabricator and proprietor of Eddie’s Chop Shop, a metalworking funhouse in Orangevale, California.
The deep roof chop is a carry over from the 70s and angles plenty of attention towards the business end
Cast your eyes over these images of Ed’s ’34 Ford coupe and spend some time to take it all in. Look closely at the attention to detail paid to every facet; the fact that each individual component has been built for a purpose, then finished off like an individual work of art which, when bolted altogether, screams, “HOT ROD!”
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When it comes to thinking outside the box, nobody does it quite like 40-year-old Ed. His previous builds have earned him the acclaim of fans worldwide; cars like the supercar-styled, mid-engined, twin-turboed ’37 Ford coupe that’s a veritable ‘man for all seasons’ when it comes to usability. Some may find his designs too extreme, not traditional hot rodding, whatever. But it’s important to remember that it was this type of dare-to-be-different attitude of pre-war hot rodders that led us to where we are today.
“I build cars to my own style,” says Ed. “I don’t give a shit what traditional is or what people should or shouldn’t do. My two loves are modern supercar performance and hot rods – they work together better than most people think.”
First impressions of this grille-less ’34 border on evil – it’s like HR Giger has been commissioned to design a monster for an Alien-meets-Mad Max flick. But it’s all Ed’s handiwork, and proudly so.
Yes, it is street-driven and it is fast too, 8.30@162mph. God bless America!
The original steel coupe body had been a hot rod for years and was brought to Ed’s shop by a customer keen to build a So-Cal Coupe replica. “I’d started some fab work on the floor and firewall before the owner had a change of heart,” Ed explains. “He sold it to another of my customers, Rich Feichter. Rich is a good buddy of mine, so we’ve been able to work closely on building the car and also sharing the driving duties.”
The drool-worthy chop was performed back in the 70s and works out to be approximately 4.5 inches, but the shell itself still needed a heap of work to bring it up to scratch. “It needed major reconstructive surgery,” Ed says. “I began by cutting out all of my initial work to make it more drag-specific, and fabricated plenty of additional sheet metal and ducting for the trunk-mounted radiators.”
The twin turbo donk is a Dart-based 598-cube big-block Chev running Callies internals and Big Chief heads. Turbos are 88mm Comp T6’s, while the intake manifold, turbo plumbing and headers are more examples of Ed’s handiwork
Underneath the body sits an intricate chrome-moly rollcage and back-half chassis, while original style rails were retained up front to keep the exposed areas looking the part. The front end is a mix of old and new, with a four-inch dropped and drilled I-beam axle running a suicide transverse leaf spring set-up and split radius rods.
Horizontally mounted adjustable shocks are hidden at the frame and operate via an Ed-made bell-crank system. “I wanted the turbos, plumbing and Moon tank to be the focal feature of the front of the car, so having ugly shocks pointing skywards wasn’t an option,” he says. “Of course, all the so-called experts knock it, but this set-up works extremely well.”
Running sans front radiator and grille sees the cooling system occupy the former boot space, which aids in getting extra weight shifted where it’s needed
Those whopping turbos and slicks aren’t just for show. And with both an 8.30@162mph and a number of street miles under its belt, a seven-second registered and driven hot rod is only a matter of time. Don Zemina of Motor Machine in Fair Oaks, CA handled the build of the EFI Dart-based 598-cube big-block Chev, slotting in a bulletproof Callies Dragonslayer crank and rods topped with JE pistons. Dart Big Chief heads run Jezel shaft-mount rockers, while a Jezel belt drive sorts the timing duties. The bucket-sized turbos are twin Comp T6 88mm jobs, while the intake manifold, turbo plumbing and headers were all built in-house at Ed’s place.
The diff is a quick-change Winters unit, which will soon be swapped out for a fully fabricated number as the boys aim for seven-second timeslips
A custom EFI set-up, tentacle-like front mount MSD distributor and Mallory ignition add fuel to the fire. The heavy breather is backed by a full manual Turbo 400 running a transbrake and 3800 stall, screwed together by ATO Performance Transmissions in Sacramento, CA. A computer-controlled Precision Performance air shift takes care of the gear selection duties.
Turbo plumbing is Ed's handiwork, and, believe it or not, the guys are looking at fitting even bigger turbos
Inside is like jungle gym-meets-WWII bomber, with the aforementioned chrome-moly ’cage looping its way around scratch-built race buckets, pedals and dash. Your eyes are drawn to the detail work etched into the pseudo trans tunnel and dash trim, while the lightweight hand-built window regulators are absolute mindblowers. “A pull lever operates a four-link bell system that closes the window then over-centres via a cam to lock it in place – simple, but lightweight and effective,” says Ed.
The interior mixes form and safety with pure sculpture and beauty – check out the pseudo diamond 'stiching' on the dash and tunnel and lever-action window winders
The 12-month build time seems amazingly short for what Ed and Rich have achieved. With the majority of in-house testing and tuning work now complete, the ’34 will be stripped down for paint. “A colour hasn’t been decided on, and I really don’t know which way it will go – maybe more clear will get the nod,” Ed says with a laugh. “Headlights are on the cards too, which we really need to get sorted for the street use factor. It’s just difficult to find something that doesn’t detract from the frontal styling.
“This is one car that I’ll be sad to see leave the shop.”
Thrust among the customer cars and bikes is a stretched ’27 T roadster salt car. “My ’37 coupe doesn’t meet class rules for the salt,” explains Ed. “I really needed a new class-specific platform for the 37’s running gear so all passes are officially recorded.”
To that end, the twin turbo LS drivetrain will switch between the ’37 and ’27, giving Ed the best of both worlds. “At the end of the day, I’m just a normal car guy who loves hot rods. My customers are the same; we aren’t rich, we all bust our asses to earn a living, so it’s all about compromise to achieve what we want within a certain budget. Nearly everything we build is done in-house. I look forward to the day that someone comes in with a huge pile of cash and lets me loose. Then you’ll see what I can really do.”
1934 FORD THREE-WINDOW COUPE
Make: Chevrolet 598ci, Dart block
Heads: Dart Big Chief
Crank: Callies Dragonslayer
Camshaft: Custom grind
Rockers: Jezel shaft mount
Turbos: Twin Comp T6 88mm
Intake: Eddie’s Chop Shop fabricated
Ignition: MSD front-mounted distributor, Mallory ignition
Cooling: Boot-mounted radiators
Exhaust: Eddie’s Chop Shop
Box: GM T400 Automatic
Converter: 3800 stall
Diff: Winters quick-change, 4.1 gears
Front: 4in dropped I-beam, transverse leaf
Rear: Alston’s Chassisworks 4-link
Shocks: Adjustable horizontal mount (f), adjustable coilover (r)
Brakes: Wilwood discs
Rims: Weld Racing 15x3.5 (f), 15x14 (r)
Rubber: Goodyear 26x4.5 (f), Goodyear 32x14.5 (r)