Tom Medley once joked he would have liked a flamed '40 Coupe. But this isn't what he had in mind. Hot rodder, vintage go-karter, angler, cartoonist and creator of Stroker McGurk, Tom Medley recently suffered a hot rodder's most feared nightmare – a garage fire. A blaze in his Burbank shop torched nearly all its contents – tools, welders, sewing machines, memorabilia, etc.
Fortunately, Tom escaped injury but his beloved 1940 Ford Deluxe coupe wasn't as lucky. It was heavily damaged, interior vaporized, paint seared into oblivion, body panels warped into a wavy wasteland. In response, a collection of Tom's friends and family have joined together to rebuild the car and get the 91-year-old hot rod legend behind the wheel again.
Medley's history is well known, chronicled most recently by Dick Martin in the January 2011 issue of Rod & Custom.
A Pat Ganahl' photo-essay in The Rodder's Journal, Issue 7, also detailed Tom's career with Hot Rod and Rod &
Tom's coupe epitomized the home-build hot rod. He acquired the car in the early 1980s, and built it in the same garage that is now a charred ruin. Medley has a self-taught, eclectic skillset: he did the upholstery, body and paint work all solo in the cramped 19x17 structure. Under the louvered hood, he installed a ZZ1 crate-motor Chevy 350 hooked to a 700R4 automatic transmission. The original Ford I-beam front axle was upgraded with a Mustang II front suspension that was, literally, taken out of a Mustang II. The '40 Ford rear axle and transverse leaf spring gaveway to an IRS Jaguar rear end. The car was a true driver, and Tom drove it on many cross-country jaunts.
All was immolated in the ensuing blaze. After the fire, friends rallied and put together a team to fix the '40. Randy Clark of Hot Rods & Custom Stuff was asked to help out on the restoration project. He kindly accepted the challenge. Randy, and wife, Peaches, retrieved the car from Burbank and hauled it back to their shop in Escondido, Calif.
With its vast experience in restoring and building rods and customs from the ground up, Hot Rods & Custom Stuff is the ideal shop to do the job. And nothing is more “ground up” than a burned up car. Moreover, every one involved with the project wanted it to go quickly – a key reason for choosing Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, and its “all under one roof” capability.
Once the coupe arrived in Escondido, clean up began, digging through the blackened debris to determine the true condition of his once very hot rod. The car was disassembled, the parts tagged and bagged. The trunk yielded one unique treasure: an original cast aluminum SCTA Roadrunners club plaque. How it survived the heat is anyone's guess.
First, the body was removed, then blasted with garnet media to remove what was left of the paint and fire-induced oxidation. This was followed up by a thorough massage with metal prep. Next, the Hot Rods & Custom Stuff metal craftsmen whirled into action. Thin gauge sheet metal, such as that used in automobiles, undergoes severe changes when subjected to heat. And garage fires are hot. Very hot. The '40's body panels were warped, twisted, stretched, and contorted in all directions. Only metal workers with years of experience understand how overheated, stressed steel will react to more heat, and the friendly persuasion of hammer and dolly.
As of late December, the metal work was nearly complete – a miraculous achievement in light of the task before Hot Rods & Custom Stuff's craftsman. A tip of the welding helmet to each of them!
News of Medley's misfortune quickly swept through the hot rod community, triggering an outpouring of support that has been remarkable. Friends have offered parts and labor. Randy Clark's commitment and generosity have been truly amazing.
In light of the resources required to complete the project, more help is needed. If you would like to help rebuild Stroker's '40, a fund has been established for fans of Tom Medley and Stroker McGurk to donate additional support. Regardless of the amount donated, everyone who pitches in will receive a commemorative item from Stroker himself.
Interested in helping? If so, please click on the DONATE button located below, which leads to PayPal. There, you can use a debit or credit card to pledge support. Being a PayPal member is NOT required.
Checks can also be sent to the The Stroker McGurk 40 Ford Trust, 2710 Vista Crest Road, Orange, CA 92867.
To follow Strokers '40 Rebuild please visit Hot Rods and Custom Stuff!