Vern Luce was the owner of a lollipop factory and long time hot rodder. Vern’s Newport Beach garage was full of hot rods including a Model T and a hi-boy ’32 Ford roadster when he crossed paths with Boyd Coddington, John Buttera and a young hot rod illustrator, Thom Taylor and commissioned the Vern Luce Coupe.
To identify the Vern Luce Coupe as a 1933 Ford is to give Henry undue credit, because this rod is entirely scratch-built. Any parts remaining of factory origin passed through a number of capable hot rodders for modification.
Boyd began with an original body and frame, but the original parts ended with that beginning. The rear rails were kicked upward two inches and the section forward of the cowl was completely fabricated extending the Model 40’s wheelbase to 115 inches. New cross members from front to back support the tubular suspension fabricated by Boyd and John Buttera. At the front, a combination of 1974 Fiat rack-and-pinion, Strange Engineering spindles, Corvair balljoints, and Kelsey-Hayes brakes mount 14×7-inch Center Line wheels and Firestone radial tires. A Halibrand quick-change center section separates the K-H inboard rear brakes, Jaguar half shafts, Coddington-constructed tubular suspension arms, knock-off hubs, and 15×9 Centerlines. Koni coil-over-shocks suspend both ends of the flawless coupe. For the proposed Vern Luce Coupe body mods, Boyd turned to Steve Davis and Dan Fink. Following the Thom Taylor sketches, Steve and Dan filled and chopped the roof with slight rake-three-inches at the front and a quarter-inch less at the rear-extensively modifying the cowl and windshield posts in the process. Davis and Fink also constructed the rolled rear pan, the firewall and the entire shapely sheet metal forward, including the unbelievably perfect, three-piece hood.
When the body was totally complete and primed, the coupe was as smooth as a new Ferrari. Boyd brought in Terry Hegman to perform the paint. Several hand-rubbed coats of ”Juniors Ferrari Red” and the body gleamed as much as the soon-to-be-added chrome plating.
Boyd-built mounts and linkages connect the ’71 Ford 289 and C-4 trans to the remainder of the running gear. The latter is a product of Nick Metranga’s complete B&M 2500 rpm-stall-speed convertor, and Boyd’s home built billet shifter.
Art Chrisman applied BRC-modified TRW pistons, Mallory ignition, Crane components, those wooly Weslake heads, and four 48 IDA Weber carbs to the mini-Dearborn, then capped it with hand crafted valve covers from John Buttera, and headers by Ken Moore. Jack Chisenhall was consulted when it came time to keep it cool, and the Vintage Air system was installed in the Boyd Coddington Garage/Vic Kitchens-stitched interior. A pair of Recaro seats, a Nardi steering wheel, Concord stereo, and three power-operated pieces of tinted glass top out the interior. VDO linear instruments reside in a Coddington hand-carved 2024 aluminum panel which matches the other of the very first billet parts ever milled by Boyd including the accelerator, billet brake pedals, billet door handles, billet mirrors, billet steering column and billet decklid. The Buick front, and Volkswagen rear lights received multiple modifications to match the smooth lines of the coupe.
It took about 2 years time to build-not counting the two years previous, when Thom Taylor, Boyd Coddington, and Vern Luce were working out design problems.
The Vern Luce Coupe set the new standard for which all hot rods were to be built, even to this day. It was the hot rod that launched my dad’s hot rod career and where the “Boyd Look” origins come.
I get asked a lot, “how did your dad do it”? The answer was one of the fundamental lessons taught in the Coddington house. Standards. The standards that helped build the Vern Luce Coupe laid down the path to my dad’s success.
When you set high standards for yourself you instantly have a higher belief of what you can accomplish. You now expect more from yourself, and you expect more from others. With a higher set of expectations you are willing to go farther and reach higher to get the results you’re looking for, which consequently raises your performance levels.
As a result you invite more opportunities and extraordinary people into your life simply because there is more assurance in everything you do. As a result of this confidence, you feel more poised about reaching your goals and about the opportunities that come into your life. Additionally, your confidence attracts extraordinary people into your life that helps to reach your goals quicker and more efficiently.