With a number of other rods to his credit, Michael Speranza decided it was high time to build a tough, black-on-black '35 three-window
This article on Mick's coupe was originally published in issue #15 of Street Machine's Hot Rod magazine
IT WAS always was going to be black,” Mick Speranza says of this stunning ’35 three-window. “Every hot rod should be black. Even my wife Kym’s ’36 roadster is black.”
A lot of money went into getting the grille looking this good. It was copper-plated and linished four or five times to get it 100 per cent. “I reckon it probably looks better now than when it rolled off the production line,” Mick says
Casting an eye over the ’35 also reveals another Mick Speranza tenet: hot rods should be plenty tough. “I wanted it to have a real 70s Pro Street look about it.” With its bigs-’n’-littlies tyre combo, purposeful rake, distinctive blower whine and just the right amount of chrome to offset the silky-smooth black sheet metal – PRO 35 nails it!
But PRO 35 is far from Mick’s first hot rod: “I’ve owned quite a few, including a ’35 five-window prior to this. But I really wanted a three-window and I wanted a lot more detail.”
Those genuine Hailbrand wheels have been in Mick's possession for 10 years. He's just been waiting for the right ride - in fact he built this sweet coupe around them
While the car itself may be traditional, the way it came into Mick’s possession was anything but. He bought it off eBay, which is about as high-tech as consumerism can get! “It was in Colorado and still had the original number plates,” Mick says.
Rather than the horror eBay stories you often hear, Mick’s experience was all good.
PRO 35 uses the best parts possible. The rear bar is a good example; it would have cost a fortune to get the original straightened and chromed. This reproduction stainless item is really impressive and looks the biz
“I was rapt when I opened the container,” he says. “You never really know what you’re going to get. It was mint, without a single spot of rust. I even drove it ’round the back paddock for a bit before pulling it down.”
Mick’s older brother got him into cars and he’s been mucking about with them since he was 13. Over the years Mick has taught himself fabrication and bodywork skills and built up a good array of equipment – welders, folders, guillotine, hoist, etc – all of which allowed him to complete the majority of PRO 35’s four-year build at home in the shed. It only left for final paint and trim.
With the body off the chassis, Mick and Greg Jones set about boxing the original rails before fabricating a tubular cross-member for increased rigidity. The engine was set back about seven inches and an extra rear cross-member was incorporated for the new four-bar set-up to hang off.
Topping the fresh chassis is an original Henry Ford all-steel body. Other than the 2¼-inch chop, recessing the firewall and making way for the fat rear meats, the body is mostly standard. Again Mick put his home-taught skills to good use to iron out all the original FoMoCo sheet metal, including the NOS front guards he picked up along the way.
A number of important people helped in this build. Andy Scicluna’s gifted welding expertise was called on a number of times. Good mate Phil Bartolo was always there to lend a hand along the way. So too was Mick’s wife Kym, who is also a passionate hot rodder and was hands-on throughout the build. When it was time to for the mile-deep Glasurit black, it was off to Carmine at CAD Customs who laid on the sumptuous, show-stopping finish.
Those baggy Hoosiers may have been around for decades, but Mick was keen to stick with such an old-school tyre, as he feels the new stuff doesn’t look right. In keeping with the traditional Pro Street theme, he combined the 15x15 rears with Firestone cheese-cutters up the front — all wrapped around genuine Halibrand Sprint wheels.
“It drives really well on them,” declares Mick. “It even surprised me.”
Although the plan is to keep the coupe fresh for a few more shows before being relegated to street duties, PRO 35 did make the 220km return drive to the Queenscliff Rod Run — where it picked up Top 8.
For anchors, a Rod-Tech kit mates Commodore discs to the four-inch dropped I-beam front axle, which is located by a four-bar set-up. Out back, Ford discs are clamped by Nissan Skyline calipers, which feature an inbuilt handbrake set-up. Hopper Stoppers supplied the master cylinder/booster combo that connects to the original brake pedal.
“Stops better than any other hot rod that I’ve had before,” Mick declares.
Mick and chassis man Greg Jones fabricated the four-link (with Z-bar), which plants the rears. Mind you, the 650hp blown small-block is still able to light up those fat 15x15 Hoosiers
“You can’t go past black and chrome,” he continues. Which is why Emmanuel at The Trim Shop, Thomastown continued the theme into the very classy interior. Mick’s even had other trimmers comment on how nice the all-black leather trim is. Highlights include custom-made door trims, with chrome inlays and suede hood lining. Sitting on the customised Glide split-bench seat, Mick keeps tabs on all the vitals via Auto Meter gauges, while occupants are kept toasty warm by an aftermarket heater fitted in behind the factory heater fascia. Much effort and money went into salvaging numerous other original interior garnishes and deluxe trim pieces and combining them with factory-looking custom-made elements.
PRO 35 is Mick’s first hot rod with cruising tunes — other than blower whine. The concealed system includes a head-unit under the seat, with speakers mounted in the back corners playing through perforations in the leather. Getting all the electricals firing was tasked to Kim Wallace, who’s kept it all very neat and tidy.
From the build’s earliest beginnings, Mick began assembling the requisite engine hardware. Screwed together in his shed, the 650-horse, blown 350 features a Chevy block, Eagle crank and rods, Arias blower pistons, solid cam, ICE ignition system, and alloy Dart II heads all topped ith a B&M 250 blower and twin 750 Holleys.
Mick put his old fitting and machinist skills to good use by knocking up a brake pedal to match the Lokar Lakester accelerator pedal
Those vintage finned ’64 Corvette rocker covers are pretty special — they were an awesome score from the Avalon swap meet two years ago. “I like to get there early before all the good stuff goes,” Mick says. “The guy was pulling them out of his trailer. I knew they were pretty rare, as a mate of mine has a set.”
Originally they featured the twin-Corvette chequered flag emblem in the centre, which has now made way for unique PRO 35 stickers, which look very trick. Another trick feature in the engine bay is all Aeroflow lines and fittings.
Mick might claim he wanted to keep the car subtle by keeping the blower under the bonnet, but there’s absolutely nothing understated about the rake and big-’n’-little tyre combo
Adhering to the philosophy of ‘build it once and build it properly’, PRO 35 was equipped with the best of everything behind the stout small-block. This includes a full-manual Powerglide, beefy tailshaft and full-floating Strange nine-inch with billet yoke and 35-spline axles. The whole car was set up for a big-block if Mick ever wants to go a little power crazy.
After a four-year build, there was a big push to get the car finished for MotorEx 2014. “I’m not one for going to shows, but I wanted to make the first Melbourne MotorEx,” Mick says
While Mick hasn’t had the engine dynoed, he says it sounds good and feels just as strong as his last engine. “You never know, probably in a couple of years’ time, you’ll see it down the drag strip,” he says. “As it is, if it pulled a 10 I’d be pretty happy with that.”
I reckon all of us would be pretty happy to run a 10 in a genuinely street-driven hot rod. Especially one that’s blown, black and beautiful. Take a bow Mr Speranza, you’ve outdone yourself.
1935 FORD THREE-WINDOW COUPE
Engine: 350 Chev
Heads: Alloy Dart II
Blower: B&M 250
Carbies: 2 x 750 Holley, vac secondaries
Fuel Pump: Aeromotive
Pistons: Arias blower
Headers: Extractors, 2in primaries
Exhaust: Twin, 3in stainless
Pref Fuel: PULP
Power: Around 650hp
Gearbox: Full manual Powerglide
Diff centre: Currie 9in, billet yoke
Housing: Full-floating 35-spline
Front suspension: 4in drop beam with four-bar
Rear suspension: Four-bar with Z-bar & coil-overs
Front brakes: Commodore
Rear brakes: Nissan Skyline
Trim: Black leather
Seat: Glide split bench
Shifter: B&M Pro Bandit
Gauges: Auto Meter American Muscle Series
RIMS ’N’ RUBBER
Rims: Halibrand Sprint; 15x4 (f), 15x11 (r)
Rubber: Firestone 155 (f), Hoosier 15x15 (r)
Build time: Four years