When you grow up peering out of the windows from the back seat of a big Lincoln while your dad pilots the streets of New York, you tend to see the world in a whole different light. For Dean Lombardo of Monterey, Massachusetts, the Lincoln’s view gave him a perfect platform to study the latest and greatest creations from Detroit with every mile the family drove. Trips to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway became legendary with the heavy scent of race fuel and exhaust and sounds of fine-tuned V-8s leaving him with a lifelong impression.
Of course like any youngster growing up in the ’70s he further fueled the fire by being nose-deep in rodding publications and building model kits of his dragstrip heroes at the kitchen table. As the years moved on he graduated to go-karts, being able to push the limits of a low-slung backlot racer. At the same time he and his younger brother happened upon an article about a rocket-powered car breaking a world speed record and decided to try it out on their go-kart with fireworks … the results didn’t fare well, especially for his brother!
Then Dean finally got the chance to step up to the big league when older friend Chris Limoli offered him a chance to drive his mid-’60s Chevy Impala long before earning his license. From that point on he was hooked. Being from a sleepy little town meant regular weekend trips to the Bronx with his high school buddies to watch late-night street racing on the Hutchinson River Parkway after hanging out at the Wedge Inn. Through all the years there have always been a number of classic muscle cars and motorcycles in his home shop to exercise on a regular basis but somehow something was missing.
Thinking back to his teen years nothing spoke louder than a hopped-up Ford Model A with a nasty V-8 nailed to the ’rails. Having studied an endless amount of build styles from the last few decades he felt it was time to finally start the search for a suitable base to begin with. It wasn’t long ’til he located a 1931 Ford Tudor sedan body in nearby Connecticut that was in decent overall shape, making it a perfect canvas. A deal was made and the body was hauled back to his shop to await its fate. They say most projects start with a phone call. Dean had seen a number of builds over the years created by Tucci Hot Rods in Marcy, New York, and was always impressed by the shop’s innovative style. Dave Tucci being well known for infusing plenty of creative vision and design elements into his builds made him the perfect person to discuss the project with. During the meeting the pair shared plenty of the same ideas to bring the sedan to the next level with Dean’s only requirement that it be low and loud with plenty of attitude.
In creating a spine capable of literally laying its ’rails on the ground, Dave rolled up his sleeves and got busy designing a custom frame with considerations of making the business office comfy in a severely chopped and channeled car. Starting with 2×4-inch rectangular steel from the firewall back he added a staggering 19-inch rear kick, accented by custom front framerails showcasing a graceful 8-inch sweep that was drilled and gusseted for added strength. It was then tied together with custom crossmembers while also incorporating a floating driveshaft tunnel as well as stepping the floor around the inner frame. In back, a Ford 9-inch rear was packed with 4.10:1 gears spinning 31-spline axles from Currie Enterprises. It’s hung in place by a custom four-link combined with RideTech RQ shocks and ’bags, antiroll bar from Welder Series and Panhard bar. To nail the frontend to the pavement a Lucky 7, 4-inch dropped beam axle wearing their matching spindles hangs in place by split ’bones combined with a transverse leaf spring matched to one-off Tucci-designed cantilever-mounted Fox Racing Float air shocks to complete the suspension. When the need to cut speed comes a Wilwood dual master moves fluid through NiCopp (nickel/copper) lines to rear Ford drums and 12-inch Wilwood drilled and vented rotors wearing four-piston calipers up front. To complete the stance in a unique way Dave set the chassis rolling on a set of 17-inch front and 20-inch rear Dodge Nitro spare steel wheels wrapped in Coker Excelsior Stahl Sport radials.
To bring plenty of attitude to the party Dean wanted a classic small-block Chevy V-8 between the framerails dressed to impress with enough bark to let everyone know he’s in town. Starting with a fresh Chevrolet Performance 350/290hp Deluxe crate V-8 a cast iron four-bolt main block was packed with a nodular iron crank linked to powdered metal steel connecting rods wearing cast aluminum slugs urged by a hydraulic flat-tappet stick. Iron cylinder heads with 76cc chambers make plenty of power while an Edelbrock three-deuce intake topped with a trio of Edelbrock 94-series carbs capped by custom Tucci air cleaners seals the deal. Other details include Mooneyes finned aluminum valve covers, custom-crafted flat zoomie-style headers, fuel block, and NiCopp lines. To move the goods a modified New Venture NV4500 five-speed trans links to a custom driveshaft by Dan’s Driveline.
Wanting to add plenty of evil to the mix Dave laid out plans for a cauldron of changes to the vintage body, starting with a nasty 5-1/2-inch chop. He followed by flush-fitting the doors by fabricating custom inner doorjambs to get a perfect gap as well as installing a modified track nose and grille from Speedway Motors. Wanting to keep the roof open as part of the design, a set of new roof bows were CNC fashioned from reclaimed walnut, a unique dimpled visor was fabricated and a Crafty B custom gas cap was installed into the rear quarter-panel to feed the Tucci-fabbed stainless fuel tank. The body was then metal finished and sent off to John’s Auto Restoration of Rome to make everything razor sharp and lay down a custom PPG Tiger’s Eye Brown vibe topped with flat clear. The chassis was then shipped to Ultra Coat Powder Coating for a topping of bronze wrinkle finish.
Throughout the build Dave was assisted by his son Dom who also operates Dom Tucci Design. When it came to creating distinctive parts for the car, Dom added a number of elements to separate it from the rest. These included water jetting the three rear window frames held in place by brass hardware, custom seat frames, and rearview mirror mount, to name but a few of the custom updates. Inside the car matches the exterior personality with a Deuce-style dash filled with Dakota Digital gauges while steering moves through a wheel from Driven connected to a box from Flaming River and shifts fly though a modified Lokar unit. The seats were covered in black vinyl and suede by Bux Customs of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, while an American Autowire kit brings it all to life.