Trying to find a particular flawless diamond in a sea of flawless diamonds is the best way to describe the selection process for the 12 openings in the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) category at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. In that sea of beauty, a 1929 Ford painted Crossroad Customs‘ Black stood out amongst the vibrantly hued entries filling the halls at the Pomona Fairplex.
Although black can be used to make a human appear sleeker, it does little hide any flaws in a vintage roadster. Under the florescent lights, there was no place to hide, and this ’29 Ford dubbed Probiscus was utterly flawless. Sikkens was selected to provide the inky color used to highlight all of the custom touches.
Johnson came up with the concept for the Roadster when was just 16-years-old, and in 1998, he finally found the starting point for his dream. It is hard to imagine that this spectacular roadster was once just a shell and some ’32 frame rails.
After 18-years of evolution, Probiscus shed its cocoon and emerged as the work of art and AMBR contender during its debut at the 2017 Grand National Roadster Show. Johnson was involved throughout the entire design process, and took care of the parts purchases during the build.
As a teenager, Wayne Johnson spent time hanging out on Van Nuys Boulevard, where he was exposed the roadsters of Tommy Ivo, Don Prudhomme, Skip Torgerson, and Kate Trap. Drag racing fans may recognize a few of those names, but hot rod legends were not Johnson’s only influence.
Just as horsepower junkies influenced the concept for Probiscus as a teenager, the influence of his brothers and their friends played an equal role in his vision. At their family home, the brothers (Les, Alvin, and Richard) along with their friends, Gil Ayala, George Gilhoover, Rudy Heiling, and others, spent time dreaming about hot rods.
Starting the dream of a 16-year-old boy with a shell and ’32 frame rails, this build went through extensive modifications to arrive at its current level of completion. The body and frame work were handled by A&M Deluxe Customs. In regards to the body, the cabin was stretched five inches, which required the doors to receive an additional four inches of length to compliment the enhanced aesthetics.
According to Crossroads Customs, the ’29 features hand-formed parts like the nose panel, hood and inner braces and hood sides, as well as the inner braces to accompany it. Both the headlight and fog lamp mounts were also customized to accommodate Johnson’s vision. That vision required a set of original Appleton fog lamps that were repurposed from Johnson’s father’s Hudson.
Touches like the Hudson fog lamps give Johnson’s roadster sentimental value as well as aesthetic appeal that allows the subtlety to stand out. During the body modification process, the foundations for the interior were laid out thanks to the custom dash panel and gauge pod.
Keeping in line with the family ties on the exterior, the interior serves as a memorial to Johnson’s brothers. Wayne is the youngest and only surviving brother. As part of his design plan, he included the names of all four brothers on the Classic Instruments Big Ol’ Gauge as a memorial. Jim at V34 Custom Interiors handled all of the details of the interior on Probiscus.
Just in case the Johnson’s opt to cruise Proboscis on a chilly day or night, they will stay warm thanks to seat warmers from Con2r Concept to Reality. Along with the seat warmers, Con2r was responsible for the custom steering wheel.
Attention to detail and the subtle touches create a striking look that earned Probiscus a shot at AMBR designation. Not to say that this sleek roadster is all show and no go, because that would be a tremendous oversight. Finding a Ford within a vintage Ford is almost like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but Johnson stayed true to the blue oval moniker.
Johnson stayed true to Henry Ford’s vision by painting the ’29 black. Ford is quoted as saying, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black.” It also made sense for this machine to be fitted with a 420ci small-block Ford engine. All of the engine work was handled by Gray’s Racing Engines. Upon completion, this little blue oval powerplant resulted in 537 horsepower and 567 lb/ft of torque.
A siren’s song may play at a moderate volume once the engine is fired, but just in case Johnson wants to capture an audience, a set of Quick Time electric cut outs provide a quick crescendo. Starting in the engine compartment, Crossroads Customs installed a set of custom headers leading to a polished stainless steel exhaust system.
Along with polished exhaust that was shown off to attendees via mirrors at the Grand National Roadster Show, the engine was subjected to same level of polish. Under the hood, the intake manifold and Ford Motorsport valve covers feature a show-worthy polish. Feeding the melodious engine is the responsibility of an Edelbrock carburetor and the Aeromotive electric fuel pump located in a Crossroads Customs-built fuel tank. To sum it up, Probiscus is a blend of power, beauty, and elegance.