There is no hot rod out there without a story, but finding one with a custom history nearly as old as the car itself can prove a bit more difficult. Which is the case with this very unique ‘36 Ford three-window coupe that will be crossing the auction block at the Mecum Anaheim, California auction next month. Originally commissioned by Jack Calori as a tow vehicle for his Clay Smith-prepped ‘29 Model A racer in the 1940s, this fine piece of custom artwork has all the makings of one of the most exquisitely built hot rods in the country. But it’s class and charm don’t stop there.
Purchased from the original owner in 1947, the 1936 three-window was originally intended to tow Calori’s hot rod race car. But it wasn’t long before local handyman and Calori’s friend Herb Reneau convinced the avid racer to give his new “tow vehicle” the custom treatment. What resulted was known as the Jack Calori Coupe, a custom hot rod with a Z’d frame in the rear, drop front axle, 3-inch chop, 1939 LaSalle front grill, Buick teardrop fender skirts and 1940 molded Chevy headlights.
The car also featured louvered side panels, 1941 Hudson taillights, clamshell hood, which was lengthened three inches, and 1941 Ford bumpers with Lincoln overriders. The car was then finished with a sleek coat of black paint.
To power this custom machine, Calori opted to use the 1946 race-prepared Mercury 56AB flathead engine from his Model A. This gave the coupe enough power to run an impressive 114.5mph at the 1948 Russetta Timing Association event.
Unfortunately, the combination of the Mercury engine, limited engine space (too small for a fan) and small openings in the LaSalle grill resulted in overheating issues on the race track.
This led to Calori’s decision to trade in the coupe for a $1,600 credit toward a new 1950 Mercury, but not before his car appeared on the front cover of the November 1949 issue of Hot Rod.
Following Calori’s trade-in, the coupe got lost among a string of different owners before it was rediscovered by collector Don Orsoco (or Roger Domini-this information is unclear) in Washington in the 1990s. After switching hands once more in 2002, the current owner, Jorge Zaragoza, commissioned Roy Brizio to completely restore the car to its original glory, complete with red leatherette interior with ivory trim and chrome fittings, as well as the original chromed and polished Mercury 59AB engine with Weiand intake and twin downdraft carburetors, Clay Smith camshaft, Potvin Ignition and Eddie Myer aluminum heads from Calori’s race-prepped Model A.
Upon completion, the car went on to win Best of Class in the first ever Early Custom Cars 1935-1948 Class, as well as the Dean Bachelor Award at the 2005 Concours d’Elegance. Brizio and Calori were both on hand to personally accept the awards.
The coupe has also been on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum and in Issue 31 of the Rodder’s Journal.
As a living piece of hot rod and customization history, the Calori Coupe would add something very unique to any collection. Lucky for you, this awesome hot rod could be yours come November 17th as it crosses the auction block at the Mecum Anaheim Auction at 2:25p.m.