Jim Smart
January 19, 2011

Steve Whitlock's '51 Ford 2-Door Coupe Steve Whitlock tells us he's a Blue Oval fanatic through and through, and it shows in his rather large collection. He has more than 30 Falcons, 15 Fairlanes, and 10 Galaxies at last count. There's always room for more, by the way. He's passionate about the classic Fords us old timers grew up with and remember; those lovable Fords and Mercs' of the 1960s that stir the emotions. "These cars are not all for restoring," Steve comments, "but there are a few I have plans for." He sells parts to feed his addiction to old Fords. And it's a huge addiction because he just can't seem to quit adding to his collection. This '51 Ford two-door coupe is one good example.

Steve didn't set out to buy this aero smoothy, a product of Henry Ford II's whiz kids who marched in to get Ford out of trouble right after World War II. Ford was facing bankruptcy and needed an all-new design with the latest technology-something fresh and exciting to get showrooms humming-since the '46-'48 Ford was little more than a warmed up carryover of the pre-war '41-'42 Ford. Although the buying public needed new automobiles badly after a long dry spell during the war, they weren't buying those first post-war Fords. Ford enlisted the George Walker design agency to pencil out and clay up what would be the all-new '49 Ford. And this would be the car that would save Ford. The '49 Ford had a futuristic demeanor with welded steel quarter-panels, abundant chrome, a jet engine intake mid-grille, slippery aero design, and it offered a smoother ride than its predecessors. Underhood were the dated pre-war flathead V-8 and inline-six engines that had been around since the 1930s. Better stuff sporting overhead valve technology was on the way, but wouldn't be here until 1954. This is why Ford had to make the most of what people saw versus what they heard underhood-a good-looking aerodynamic body that excited the senses and got people into showrooms.

Steve's '51 Ford coupe was a continuing evolution of the redesigned '49 Ford. He discovered this old shoebox in the classified ads of his local newspaper. It got his curiosity going, and he just had to see it. The '51 Ford is a standalone in that its grille sports twin jet intakes flanked by chrome you can see coming from any direction. When Steve answered the classified ad, he learned the car had already been sold. It turned out a friend had purchased it, and with a little bit of arm-twisting and gentle persuasion, Steve's buddy gave in and sold him the car. The '51 had been in storage for 30 years and was in outstanding condition for a car of its age. Steve stripped it down to a bare steel body and frame and went to work.

"I just knew this Ford shoebox had to be Pro Streeted," Steve tells us, "I got in touch with local race car builders and my good friend, Jim Norman, who did the frame work." Jim added that most of the work was performed in his shop. "What a fun car to build and show," Steve says with intense enthusiasm.

Because Steve is an automotive collision specialist, building this car came second nature to him. He did all of the body prep work himself, then, handed painting duties over to Troy Williams who laid down the two-stage Dupont in Candy Purple Pearl, which is a custom finish Steve came up with himself. There's no other combination out there like it. The ghost flames are a special Vermillion Dupont mix. Bumpers are '50 Ford-Steve's choice-because he wanted smooth bumpers void of curves and impressions like we find for '51.

Steve will tell you this wasn't an easy project. It took four years from disassembly to com-pletion. A lot of careful thought and planning went into its execution. Once the body was finished, Steve got his mind around the rest of his Ford. He wanted a rocket ship that handled the 347 stroker's power well. Under-neath is a Fatman Fabrications Mustang II front suspension with Heidt's spindles and disc brakes set up for Pro Street cruising. A Flaming River rack-and-pinion steering system helps Steve navigate. In back is a Ford 9-inch rearend from a '78 Lincoln with 4.11 locking cogs and Moser axles. Steve had to cut those huge Lincoln rotors down to a size that fit inside his 15-inch Cragars. The rear suspension is a cool four-link setup with coilover Carrera shocks. Those are Cragar Dragstar five-spoke wheels fore and aft wrapped in Mickey Thompson skins.

Underhood, Steve wanted the maximum amount of displacement you could shoehorn into a Boss 302 Ford block-machined by Tom Howell at Clegg Machine. Scat Enterprises provided the 347ci stroker package that includes a 4340 steel crank and rods as well as Trick Flow 8.0:1 pistons decked out with Childs & Albert zero-gap rings. An aggressive Crane roller camshaft with 578/560-inch lift and 322/312 degrees of duration was used for abundant power once this guy comes off idle. On top are Trick Flow aluminum cylinder heads motivated by a Pete Jackson gear drive timing set. Twin 650-cfm Holleys feed a hungry Silver Wing-prepped 6-71 blower. Those are custom stainless steel headers fabricated with great care by Richard Speaker huffing into Warlock mufflers. A Mallory ignition lights the mixture.

Behind the 347 is a small-block C6 with a 3,000-rpm-stall converter designed to hook up when this engine gets into its powerband. Steve had his builder go with a manual valvebody for solid street/strip control.

Inside, are '90 Mustang high-back bucket seats upholstered in white and purple leather by Rod Jones. Control happens via a Grant steering wheel. Safety comes from a five-point shoulder harness. That's a custom instrument panel decked out with Ford Racing instrumentation flanking a Billet Specialties steering column.

Sometimes, it takes a guy like Steve Whitlock to get our attention with a hot Pro Street ride like this. If the car seems dated, that's because its message is. Pro Street is an older theme known for its shock value. It rocks drive-ins everywhere. Crack the forced induction Holley butterflies and watch those Mickey Thompsons break loose in short order. That's the message in supercharged power. And Steve's message to all really is about fun. And when there's fun, more of it can only be better, right? If you'd like to know more about Steve's collection, go to prostreet-steve.blogspot.com.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

The Details

Steve Whitlock's '51 Ford 2-door Coupe

Engine

  • 347ci stroked small-block
  • '70 Boss 302 block
  • 4.030-inch bore
  • 3.400-inch stroke
  • Scat 4340 steel crank
  • Scat forged I-beam connecting rods
  • Forged 8.0:1 pistons
  • Trickflow cylinder heads
  • DDS induction system
  • 6-71 Silver Wing supercharger
  • 14 pounds of boost

Transmission

  • Paul Workman C6 automatic
  • 3,000-rpm-stall converter
  • Manual valvebody

Rearend

  • '78 Lincoln Mark V 9-inch
  • Moser axles
  • Traction-Lok
  • 4.11 gears

Exhaust

  • Stainless Headers fabricated by Richard Speaker
  • Warlock mufflers

Suspension

  • Front: Fatman Fabrications Mustang II with Heidt's spindles, Flaming River steering rack, Carrera coilover shocks
  • Rear: Four-link, Carrera coilover shocks

Brakes

  • Front: Fatman/Heidt's disc, 11-inch rotor, single-piston caliper
  • Rear: '78 Lincoln disc, turned down for wheel fitment

Wheels

  • Front: Crager Drag Stars, 15x5
  • Rear: Crager Drag Stars, 15x15

Tires

  • Front: Mickey Thompson, 7.50x15
  • Rear: Mickey Thompson, 31x18.50x15

Interior

  • Rod Jones custom interior with purple and white leather, '90 Mustang bucket seats, SVO instrumentation, EZ Wiring

Exterior

  • Candy Purple Pearl Dupont two-stage with Vermillion, Ghosted flames