<< Check Out All the Latest Stuff from Hot Rods

New Old Tricks

Custom tail-feathers for an early ‘bird


By Rotten Rodney


Back in simpler times before ‘lectronics and the Interweb, kids were content with coloring books, while junkyard kids had access to—Hollander interchange manuals! Granted, these cost a little more than coloring books, but they did contain more useful information as I recall. Of course, like other printed publications we’ve known and loved, Hollander has gone ‘lectronic now too, but as the years roll by these older versions are steadily increasing in value.   



So, here in section 9B (the body identification section), what do this Dodge and T-bird have in common? Give up?



Even upon closer inspection, it’s odd to think these two could share anything in common at all. For the answer to our question du jour, let’s pay a visit to Hot Rods & Custom Stuff’s brand new body ‘n’ paint department.  


Y’all may recall seein’ this early ‘bird here on the ‘site before. I’d been followin’ its progress without really knowin’ much about the plan. At first it looked like a pretty straightforward restoration job to me. Bet you can’t tell from here, but it’ll roll out as a mild custom.


HR&CS body man, Ricardo has done some hand-modelin’ on this ‘site before. His fast-movin’ hands are usually pretty blurry, so we’ll have to include this rare shot—of, wait, a 1960 Dodge taillamp assembly?


Back to section 9B (the body identification section), old Hollander interchange manuals don’t show illustrations of the tail-ends of cars. Could this be what the Dodge and the T-bird have in common?


Come to find out; this bit of restyling is a Chick Koszis plan, but he’s quick to confess that it’s actually an old custom treatment that he remembers from Rod & Custom magazine’s ‘little pages’ days. The old ‘bird has other, subtle custom surprises in-store, but let’s focus on this one for now.   


Notice how the taillamps and headlamps now flow with similar lines?


At this stage with the taillamp bezels again removed, the entire car is guide-coated as paint preparation continues. Those who’re familiar with the earliest of ‘birds would know that the ’55-56-models had abruptly clipped wings. Unfortunately yours truly missed the part where sheet steel extensions were custom fabricated to fill the factory voids.  


Block-sanding (AKA fairing) such a shapely body requires an understanding of specific-purpose tools, and there’s no substitute for experience. Ricardo possesses all the above and here he’s gaining ground toward final primer. Notice the absence of dry-sanding dust? That’s one big vacuum in the background.  


It seems like more of us should remember this modification. Back when ’60 Dodges were plentiful scrap iron, I could have, and would have stockpiled their taillamp assemblies for the future—if I’d known about this.


Isn’t it funny how time goin’ by can make an old idea seem new? From the ‘little pages’ of Rod & Custom, an old custom taillamp treatment could be print-worthy again. If I had my way, you’d see this as tech in the later ‘big pages’ of Rod & Custom. Sadly, however, I, well, uh—I missed too many shots.