DriveShare member stories: On the hunt for a hot rod

Editor’s note: DriveShare’s member-submitted stories are the second-best way ­(number one is to list your car)­ for the car enthusiast community to share the passion for the vehicles they love and keep automotive history alive. Allow us to introduce Matthew Bange, a hot rod hunter and handyman with four years of professional hot rod shop experience under his belt. He loves anything with a motor but has a special place in his heart for prewar or post-1948 cars.

Half the fun of being a hot rod owner, or an owner of any classic vehicle for that matter, is the hunt.  I always wanted a mid-‘30s Ford hot rod. I built two other hot rods, which were both late ’20s Ford Model As, but I’ve always had a fascination with the 1930s due to the more prominent sweeping fenders, curvier body lines, and the flathead V-8. After spending just two weeks in my new role at Hagerty as a licensed sales agent and talking about classic vehicles with owners all around the country, I was hooked and needed to get into another project. 

I searched for what felt like an eternity and finally stumbled upon a short but sweet ad for an old pickup truck on Craigslist that gave me hope. It was time. I called the phone number listed on the ad, and an older gentleman answered. The good news was the 1935 Ford Model 50 was still available, but my heart sunk when he told me it was first come, first serve, and people from other states were coming to see the truck soon.  He wouldn’t accept a downpayment to hold it. I urgently rounded up my buddy, Josh, and within three days, we headed down to Muskegon from Traverse City in what I would describe as one of the wildest thunderstorms I’ve ever seen while living in Michigan.

We left after work, so it was already 5 p.m. when we finally hit the road. We drove wide-eyed and white-knuckled for two hours through heavy rain and sky-splitting lightning, fighting shoves from high winds the entire way. By the time we arrived at the gentleman’s house, the storm had lightened up. The old Ford was tucked away in his garage. As we approached it, he admitted his emotional attachment to the truck and decided it was best to let it go because he couldn’t find the time to get it back on the road. After a quick money exchange, it took all three of us and some huffing and puffing to push the truck up and onto the trailer in the rain.  

By 1 a.m., we were heading north back to Traverse City. A heavy fog replaced the rain, and it was slow-going along the backroads. Slow and steady won the race, and we successfully off-loaded the truck around 3 a.m. into my garage. Home sweet home.

I spent the next two years tearing the truck down to its bare frame and building it back up in a much more modified manner. I kept the original Virginia barn find patina, so at first glance, it looks mostly stock. It sports a  Chevy 350 small-block engine from a ‘72 El Camino SS. The Turbo Hydramatic 350 transmission sends power to a 9-inch Currie Enterprises rear end with 3.50 gears. Skinny old-school bias ply Firestone Deluxe Champion tires complete the look. I furnished the interior with a custom-made bench seat and real walnut details. It is an absolute blast to drive and a real head-turner! I already can’t wait to start the next project.

Did Matthew’s story inspire you to hit the road? Check out cool cars for rent on DriveShare.com or tell us your automotive story.


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