Building Street Rods & Customs is a uniquely individual experience. Whether one starts with a rough all metal original or one of the new formed custom glass bodies, each custom build has to begin with a design in mind. The success of the ultimate look will be attributed to, or in some cases limited by the "vision” of the builder.
Even the cookie cutter - jelly bean “factory” rods made by Street Beasts and Coast to Coast have the potential during the build to gain a “signature” that makes them particularly distinctive.

This 39 was built by Terry Taylor of DeQuicy Louisiana, an experienced and talented craft master that knows just how to incorporate design, functionality and styling to serve up a consistent “Best Hot Rod” winner. Terry used elements of the extreme build-up that have all been done before, but not to this extent, and certainly not with the combined effectiveness of this “look.” His approach was very creative in its execution, and it all works well.

Terry’s approach underscores the considerable thought that has gone into this combined effort, as well as the combination of the simplicity and the aggressive look of the one-off  modifications to this glass body, such as, the conventional hood conversion, the sanitized  LT1 engine box, and completely hand crafted interior. Altogether quite a breathtaking presentation.

The Design for the DuPont Hot Hues buildup
On the surface, the 39 Custom Studebaker Coupe Express begins at a place where most glass concepts have to radically modify to achieve. When taken to the next level, a well planned build-up of an otherwise “standard” modified body achieves a distinction that can easily become the standard mark for the body style. In the modified pickup truck world, specifically the MSR 39 Coupe Express, this version of the idea easily achieves the distinction as the standard bearer.   

Simply stated, the design for this build-up exists in a few carefully selected “theory to practice” custom build ideas… Long, Low, Smooth, & Simple.  It could also be called “elegant and sleek and smooth”

To expand on those ideas, Long & Low in this case means a nice long clean & uninterrupted line, achieved by the elimination of anything that could be interpreted as clutter: bumpers, door handles, side mirrors, hinges, drip rails, hood trim, minimal use of chrome and any other un-necessary visual distractions. The balance however is to avoid a sanitized look. This is accomplished with using simple paint adjustments that compliments what's already there. To the extent that paint can be a distraction, Taylor was careful to avoid the seduction of flames, graphics, accent lines or any other similar “add on” color hype that could misdirect the overall design. The radical interpretation of the original 39 Coupe express does not really require a statement to be made in paint. With all buildups, care must be taken to avoid overstatement of any basic quality design lest the stylization of the modified body be lost on unnecessary  add on’s. 

This is the very essence of what smooth & simple is all about. A radical interpretation to be sure, the 39 Custom Coupe Express is a careful blending the classic elements of Street Rod design with obvious adherence to the original style lines. The original 39 Coupe Express  had a  rather Slippery profile straight out of the factory. It possessed a rather custom look at manufacture  which made refinement & updating less of a challenge. Even so, any Rod build-up has to start with careful consideration of the three most important elements of a successful look. These are, the wheel & tire combo, the paint, and the stance. This is particularly true of any rod which borrows elements from and pays homage to it’s original counterpart. The 39 Custom Coupe Express is reminiscent of the 60’s one off customizations produced by the likes of the Barris Brothers, Bill Cushenberry, Ed Roth, Darryl Starbird, and a myriad of others who pioneered the Custom Rodding experience we enjoy today. I am of the opinion that building a retro ride almost demands a certain obvious acknowledgement of the period from which the custom was birthed. Recognition of details like this at the outset results in doing the little things that add up to result in a truly distinctive build-up.
Complete one-off interior;  which in it’s completed state, actually looks rather period due to the over-simplification of the interior space. It was important to not overstate the interior in any way. When you look inside, it had to look clean and tasteful - elegant but with pure hot rod attitude. Were our goal a pro street version, this would dictate the use of radical geometric upholstery, wild colors, racing style seats, lots of chrome, a mach something style steering wheel and maybe a digital display, a plasma screen or two, and some electronics gadgetry. In the case of the 39 retro rod, the dictate was limited to a simple modernization of that which is antique. This led to the flat vintage style dash, simplified retro-style autometer gauges, traditional interior deer skin upholstery, and hidden controls - topped off by a Lecarra vintage style banjo wheel.  See the Interior page for additional details.   

The most important design variable was that this build had to be streetable from day one. Personally speaking, I am well past the days of the trailer queen – I know well what it is to own a primo custom that cannot be allowed to see the road… been there & done that. This time it’s different.  There was no doubt that this truck was destined to be well acquainted with the pavement.
The Stance... was a critical consideration. ( see the Stance page for details)
On a standard 39 Custom Coupe Express build-up, the ride would be level, as dictated by the use of the standard unaltered GM sub frame. In modern custom-think, the use of  air bags and larger diameter rear to front wheel ratio with thin rubber is the key to a nice stance. While I like this look, it is not a suitable combination for a retro rod. The theme of this Studebaker had to maintain the design idea and be expressed with a wheel & tire combination that more closely matches the objective of simple & subtle. The emphasis was placed on the rake being achieved with the tires rather than with the wheels, like it was in early street rodding; the goal being to assure the body be as close as possible to the wheel lip at ride height. The significance of the difference in this approach cannot be overstated. It is a direct acknowledgement of the 60’s way of getting the stance. While not necessarily a better approach, by design it is certainly counter to the modern prevailing sense of style. This is yet another exclusive design & style dictate of this exceptional build-up.

The result  is a nice low slung sleekness that rides smooth at top speed and handles well in all circumstances… The radius is 100% range functional. There are no problems from the rear setup, no bounce, and no clearance issues. Second only to the overall body design, I believe the rake achievement serves up the single most appealing aspect of the “Stude with Tude”, adding immeasurably to the overall design goal... Long, low, smooth, and simple.
The trick was to blend the “best of show” looks with  “daily driver” mechanicals. This objective is achieved with the use of the mostly stock, predictable, factory built original GM sub-frame and mildly altered suspension components. The engine is a simply built and mostly original Corvette LT-1. In keeping with the overall design, it’s dressed up nicely but with minimal use of chrome for visual simplicity and tucked neatly into the completely filled engine compartment. Additionally, the creature comforts such as leather and vintage air assure a pleasurable driving experience.

Additional Design Details
One for the road… There is nothing wrong with the trailer queen approach to Hot Rod ownership. I've done it  and had a good time with it.  Eventually however even the most special creations need their time on the road. That said, when Taylor finished the 39, it made the long trailer trip from Louisiana to Georgia and has not seen a trailer since! With my very first real “show car” my dad & I spent three years on the ISCA Southeastern Division circuit in the early 80’s competing at the top levels with a 79 Datsun Pickup. We won the SE Division Class Champion and finished second as National class champion with numerous awards in between. 
While I enjoyed the show experience I never got to enjoy the post show-time experience on the road. The truck was totally destroyed in a house fire as it sat in storage between seasons. Fast forward 25 years or so and It’s a different season. Fresh off the build-up, the Stude made it’s show debut at the 03 “Horsepower in the Park”  two day event at the Olympic Horse park in Georgia where it took a top five pre 1949 award and “Best Hot Rod”. Since then it has earned more awards at local events. From 1980 to 2003, and with the car show thing well satisfied and the priorities realigned it’s time to enjoy Hot Rodding as it was meant to be. The allure of the occasional car show is a possibility, the cruise nights are a certainty, all else in between is pure driving enjoyment.

Happy Rodding,  Jeff Nix
See other Glass truck designs here
Studebaker Coupe Express
Get it out of the garage and on the street!