Speed 33 Cabrio Into A Hardtop Coupe


Well-known member
Mar 25, 2008
Chip Foose and Marcel DeLay Converted This Speed 33 Cabrio Into A Hardtop Coupe
Ron Brown and Chip Foose were sitting in a restaurant a few years ago. They were talking about street rods, in particular Speed 33s. Ron had owned one of these stylized 1933 Ford–inspired cars—a dark red fenderless version designed by Foose and built by Marcel DeLay at Marcel’s Custom Metal. Mark Trostle at American Speed Company had created the Speed 33 body as a topless car—a cabriolet with the flavor of a roadster—but Ron and Foose were talking about doing something different. What if you took one of ASC’s steel cabrio bodies and converted it into a coupe? And what if you gave that coupe a pair of Deuce-style fenders? It wasn’t long before Foose had pulled out a pen and paper and was translating their words into drawn lines. One look at Foose’s sketch and Ron knew they had to take it further by translating those drawn lines into a genuine car.

When Ron bought the car, he got a Speed 33 topless body and the majority of the present chassis. The frame was built from American Stamping ’rails, pinched in the front. Kugel Komponents’ independent suspension components had been added in the front and rear, including coilovers up front and double coilovers in back. When the car got to Foose Design, Foose and his team, notably Dennis McNeil, went over the chassis, fine-tuning and making a variety of modifications, such as replacing the suspension and engine mounts, adding 3/16-inch plating with louvers, and extending the front 6 inches. Foose also modified the looks of the Kugel rearend; a custom housing for the 3.7:1 differential is flanked by inboard disc brakes. The brakes use Wilwood components and are operated by a Kugel pedal assembly and underdash master cylinder.

The five-spoke wheels are unique, designed by Foose back at that restaurant, and built by Foose Design specifically for Ron’s car. Measuring 18×9 and 16×7, they roll on 275/45R18 and 195/45R16 Pirelli radials—providing a classic big ’n’ little combination and the perfect sidewall-to-wheel ratio.

Ron told us that Foose’s initial sketch, and subsequent drawings, served as an accurate pattern for exterior modifications made to the Speed33. The body structure, firewall, doorframes, rear quarters, and decklid are just the way the body is built by ASC, but the rest is all fabricated to match Ron and Foose’s vision.

Foose has collaborated frequently with sheetmetal shapers Marcel and Luc DeLay from Marcel’s Custom Metal. Marcel worked on Ron’s Speed 33 roadster and was commissioned to make some of the body mods on this car as well. The father and son team handformed the custom running boards and fenders, fabricated a brand-new hood and doors, and created a new grille shell and rear apron, all consistent with Foose’s design. Chrome trim pieces were built to accent the hood top and sides, and hand-fabbed Nerf bars were added as front and rear bumpers. Greg Cox at Artistic Silver Plating ensured that all the chrome was flawless. The side mirrors are mounted on hand-shaped stems. The King Bee headlights are housed in custom-built reduced 1935 Ford-style buckets.

The top is probably the most distinctive element of Ron’s rod, transforming the car from cabrio to coupe. The perfectly proportioned roofline is Foose’s design with Marcel and Luc’s handiwork. When the electric windows are up, the opera window–style rear glass is apparent. With all windows down the hardtop look is achieved.

Jean Brown, Ron’s wife, selected the tone of blue that extends from the grille shell, continues above the beltline, and down the decklid. The contrasting silver was Foose’s idea and a tiny bit of silver was added to the blue to wake it up a little. The colors are separated by a subtle pumpkin-colored stripe. Custom painter Steve DeMan sprayed the coupe, using BASF’S Glasurit 90 Line waterborne paint.

Ron’s roadster had been powered by a Chevy LS3 and he opted for the same engine in the coupe, providing the Street & Performance motor that now fills the engine bay. Andy Wallin at Foose Design rebuilt the engine, which is cooled by an aluminum radiator from Mattson’s Custom Radiator and a SPAL electric fan from The-Fan-Man. Foose fabricated the headers, which draw exhaust to a custom MagnaFlow exhaust system. The valve covers are another custom Foose detail. Marcel’s Custom Metal built the beautiful carbon-fiber engine cover, which started as a clay model and is finished with chrome trim details. Behind the LS3 is a floor-shifted GM 4L60E transmission.

The interior was styled simply, with a lot of work to make it look that way. The Speed 33 dash houses a single gauge pod—a 1951 Ford speedometer and quad gauges (fuel, oil, temperature, battery) restyled and rebuilt by Redline Gauge Works. Vents for the Vintage Air system are mounted below. Peter Morell at Foose Design made sure everything is wired right. The 1956 Chevy two-spoke wheel was reworked and flipped when mounted on the ididit column. At 714 Motorsports in Huntington Beach, California, the high-back Glide Engineering buckets and the rest of the interior were upholstered in three tones of Katzkin leather. High-quality aircraft carpeting covers the floor.

The coupe was finished in time for the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas where Glasurit gave Ron’s Speed 33 a spot in their booth to show off that paint. Ron said it’s been an exciting ride watching this unique street rod evolve from a restaurant conversation into a car he can drive on the street—especially one built by Chip Foose and Marcel DeLay. Who wouldn’t like to have a car like that?


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Phantom of the Opera
Mar 24, 2008
NE Florida
One modern looking hotrod, times have changed a bit, but the spirit lives on....