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High Murrell Standards
6.7.05. Keith and Sharon Murrell have been in a state of hot rodding utopia for over 20 years. Having built a couple of customs in the eighties and more recently a reworked ‘34 Ford Coupe finished in purple with yellow flames, clearly their hobby isn’t a passing fad – it’s more a way of life.
So it was perhaps inevitable then, that when the time came for change, the Coupe’s replacement would be something just a little more special. Just exactly what was only recently revealed at the NSRA Billing Fun Run in June, where the full impact of their three and a half year in the making, contemporary-styled, Wild Rods-bodied ’37 Ford Cabriolet was clear to see.
While hot rodding is still gripped with new wave nostalgia, and we’re not knocking the trend, it is however, refreshing to see something a little, well, a lot different on the scene. Wild Rods products have been on the market now for a good few years, but this is the first time one of their products has appeared in Europe.
The most striking aspect of the car, the lowered, channelled, raked body, with angled and chopped screen/top, bears a striking resemblance to the Minotti 37 Ford launched in 2003, though at that point Wild Rods were already offering two body styles – Roadster and Pick-up, so it seems that they were ahead of the game. While the body style has all of the styling cues you’d expect of a West Coast, California creation, it is in fact moulded and pieced together by Wild Rods in Quebec, Canada.
Keith and Sharon started their project over three and a half years ago, and while the original Roadster and Pick-up body styles were the first out of the moulds, Coupe, Sedan and Sedan Delivery versions have followed (check out the Wild Rods web site at www.wildrodfactory.com for the full range – which will shortly include a 1940 Ford-bodied roadster).
By all accounts, the fibreglass body the Murrells purchased required a fair bit of massaging to bring it up to their obvious high standards. The body preparation and indeed virtually the whole build of the car is credited to Keith’s ingenuity and skill. However he did bring in good friend Tony Hackworth to handle the Ferrari Rosso Corsa paintwork and the talented Neil Tadman to stitch up the interior.
Although very much a roadster, the one-piece hardtop effectively converts the car to coupe status within seconds. Theoretically it’s weatherproof too, with custom front and rear screens and curved side glass panels to help keep out the elements.
Completing the dramatic external look is a set of 18-inch diameter front and 20 inch diameter rear, Billet Speciality SLX wheels shod with rubber band profile Pirelli P Zero tyres. Combined with the slammed appearance courtesy of air suspension, the roaster cum coupe delivers sledgehammer looks from every angle.
It’s not just the exterior that exudes ‘cool’, as Keith completely fabricated the clean and simple dashboard with equal eye-popping appeal. Twin circular recesses house the state of the art instrumentation provided by Dakota Digital, leaving the rest of the dashboard clutter free. A colour-matched steering column, topped with a Billet Specialities steering wheel, and trimmed to complement the overall interior colour scheme, has been utilised to great effect.
And what an interior it is too. The Murrell’s can’t speak too highly of Neil Tadman’s undoubted skills in shaping the beautifully executed tan leather upholstery, which adorns the bench seat, and matching door panels, plus the colour-matched carpet which is carried through to the boot compartment.
The attention to detail isn’t limited to the living quarters either, as underneath that beautifully formed body is an equally well-finished TCI chassis, equipped with Mustang II front suspension/steering and a Ford 9 inch rear axle. The braking system is a further eye-catching combination with Willwood 4-pot callipers and discs on all four corners – it should stop like a race car! According to Sharon, the chassis required only minor modifications to accept the body and is an excellent match. Out on the road the aforementioned air suspension can be raised three inches to provide adequate clearance for normal driving.
As for motivation, there’s a beautifully detailed 1994 LT1 Corvette motor and matching transmission under the hood, devoid of clutter and painted to match the body – it’s a real work of art.
Prior to the Billing event the car had been driven just 30 miles. “We checked it over and then drove up to Northampton and the car ran like clockwork – it didn’t miss a beat,” says Sharon. “We are really pleased with the end result and it’s testament to Keith’s engineering. The weekend was capped off perfectly when we were awarded the Participants’ Choice trophy at the event – it was a great thrill for us both."
Story & photos: Andy Kirk