Concept Corner: swoop coupe

Posted in Cars, Opinion

You’ve seen what Ben Gainfort can do with his ’57 Chev, on the cover of the August 2016 issue of NZV8. So, what if he turned his attention to another project that is brewing away in his mind?

Ben Gainfort loves to mix new and old styling tricks to create a vehicle that stands out from the rest. When we asked him what else he’d like to build, he came through with more of the same — a combo that sees old-school styling tricks mixed with some later model componentry, as well as a few age-old techniques to really change the look created. 

“I’ve always liked the look of a chopped ’46 Ford coupe,” he says, “but it looks even better when it’s been sectioned. I’d say that around three inches off the roof and four inches out of the body would be about right. 

“To make the section work, you’d really need to cut it on an angle, from just below the moulding on the rear guard to above the wheel arch on the front, then take two inches out below the bonnet moulding and two inches from just above the front wheel arch.” 

With Ben already having Jaguar front and rear ends at his disposal, as well as a set of C6 Corvette Grand Sport wheels left over from the build of his ’57 Chev, you can see where his idea of integrating them into such a project comes from. Mind you, he’s aware that the front guards might need a bit of work to allow the fitting of such large wheels, especially at a low ride height. Despite the massive changes to the body, Ben would retain all the original trim work on the car, maybe removing the door handles for a slightly cleaner look. The colour of choice? A dark royal blue.

While Ben’s clearly not afraid to mix and match components from different brands, when asked what he’d power such a car with, the answer was a 351 Windsor and late-model AODE automatic transmission. The finishing touch would be to add an interior done in a similar style to the Bel Air — front bucket seats, rear bench, and acres of plush, cream leather. That sounds like a great custom cruiser to us!

LVVTA’s view
Justin from LVVTA says: “Lowering the roofline and sectioning the body are both popular mods, which, when done by a competent panel guy to time-proven methods, are as strong structurally as — if not stronger than— the original vehicle shell. That means you shouldn’t have too many problems installing seat-belt anchorages to the pillars and floor structure. Although a standard pre-55 car can run with no seat belts, one that has had significant performance improvements, to the extent that it will perform more like a modern vehicle, needs to have web-clamp lap and diagonal seat belts fitted to front outer seating positions.

“For more details on this requirement, check out the ‘Seatbelts in old vehicles and scratch-built vehicles’ section in chapter 14 of the NZ Hobby Car Technical Manual (HCTM). With a roof chop and section, there would be a reduction in the available headroom, so you’d need to make sure that your seats, steering column, pedals, and controls were all correctly positioned for safe and comfortable use, whilst still allowing good visibility through the screen — see the ‘Ergonomics’ section in chapter 18 of the HCTM for details. 

“The Jag suspension is another relatively straightforward mod that, when installed properly, is well suited to this style of car and gives a big improvement in drivability over the original Henry Ford I-beam axle set-up. The beauty of this set-up is that all of the steering and suspension geometry is done for you, providing you retain the complete Jag cross member. There’s an LVV information sheet (Info 08-2011) dedicated to the installation of a Jag IRS. Available free from the Documents>Infosheets section on, this info sheet gives you all of the information you would need to get the rear end installed and set up so that it’d stand the test of time and give you the best possible results. 

“The rest of the mods you’ve described sound pretty straightforward. The HCTM contains all the info you’d need to get the engine and drivetrain, wheels and tyres, brakes, and all other aspects of the build legal and safe. All that’d be left then would be to drive the wheels off it!”

Grab a print copy or a digital copy of the August 2016 issue of NZV8 below to learn more about Ben Gainfort's cover car!