Dave Tucci’s 1935 roadster ‘CYPRUS’

Master of hot rods Dave Tucci builds one for himself – this is how he did it

Photographers: David Fetherston

Having built hot rods, customs and trucks for as long as he has, it’s no wonder that when Dave Tucci made a choice to build his own hot rod, he was a little more picky than most. See, Dave is a master at street rod fabrication and his Tucci Engineering shop on the east coast of the US ranks with the best.

First published in the January 2004 issue of Street Machine

His designs have an elegance and stretch to them that lends a raked, already moving-at-speed feel. This feel is certainly built right into the ’35 Cyprus roadster, which started out as a ’37 before a Wall Street investor steered the project in a new direction.

The idea was then to create a one-off, full-fendered ’35 roadster so Dave reconfigured the ’37, morphing the nose and making it sit with a fresh new stance. He tossed the ’37 hood and side panels, adding four ’35 fenders from Wescotts. Then the real work began. He and his crew moulded the rear fenders to the body and then blended in a new rear roll pan that connects the rear fenders into a smooth, rounded flow below the trunk.

Even though the front fenders may look different from stock, the panels feature only a small wedge section that extends them so they flow with the rake of the new body styling. Joining the fenders is a pair of custom fabricated steel running boards made out of cold rolled 14-gauge steel.

To get the grille shape right, they took a stock ’35 Ford grille, removed all the bars, sectioned it eight inches and laid it back 23 degrees. To finish off the nose area, Dave installed a pair of Harley-Davidson V-Rod headlights in custom mounting buckets.

Inside Dave had to make room for the tunnel area of the chassis, so he cut most of the floor right out of the body and moulded a new raised floor, trunk floor and tunnel. This was formed in plywood and drywall mesh filler. It was then finished with six coats of hand-laid fibreglass. The whole underside was redone with multiple layers of glass and then smoothed and primed ready for the paint booth. 

Now Dave called on two of the country’s top body and paint detailers to finish off the work. Rich Thayer and Kevin Hansen for RJ Customs in Seattle, Washington, flew in for two weeks of intensive detail work. Once the body was done to expectations, it was moved to Panella Collision in New York Mills, where Rich and Kevin shot on the innovative coat of PPG Copper Sunburst.

The fabrication of the chassis was done around a set of Vision Street Rods ’37 Ford frame rails. These Dave extensively modified by cutting the rear section off so he could butt-in a new frame section using multi-tube framing to accommodate the new independent Air Ride-equipped rear suspension from Precision Brakes. This IRS uses a ’97 8.8in LSD Lincoln Mark VIII centre section with 2000 C5 Corvette hubs, custom Moser axles, Wilwood calipers and 14in Baer drilled rotors.

The front is also just as complex. Horton Street Rods Parts, from Ontario, Canada, did the whole independent front end. They narrowed the track four inches, detailed the double long A-arm frames incorporating a pair of Air Ride Shock Wave air bags, and a Flaming River steering rack. So now it was set down right with its new Mike Curtis billet one-off wheels. These MC Billet’s are 20×10 for the rear and 17×7 for the front. These Dave capped with low profile Toyo 265/50s on the rear and 215/40s on the front.

Dave opted to use a 360 horsepower 351 Ford crate motor with a five-speed Tremec transmission and a Ford Motorsports clutch. Induction is all from Barry Grant Fuel Systems and uses a single 750cfm Demon carburettor with a set of a modified BBK Jet Hot-coated headers and custom stainless exhaust. To cool this flat-nose roadster, Dave had the Indiana-based Zero To Cool shop build him a custom aluminium radiator with a built-in shroud and fan. Finally the engine and drive train assembly were either polished, painted, plated or power coated before being installed in the chassis.

After months of deliberation Jamie MacFarland from McFarland Custom Upholstery in Buckley, Washington and Dave decided on a combination of perforated and non-perforated black Mercedes vinyl over black wool carpets. Jamie custom built the seat frame into wrap around style with a centre console that uses the flow of the front fender peaks for its form around the Mustang Bullet shifter.

The dash also features a few trick touches including the Auto Meter instrument cluster with an electronic speedo, which can be flipped into an electronic tacho, at just the click of a switch.

“It is a lot more than I ever anticipated when I started building it for myself, but in doing so it became what my shop does best; a high-end street rod,” Dave says. “I kept accurate hours on building this rod and 5550 hours is a close round number. The best part is, I still get to drive it!”

A lot of folks put a lot of sweat into creating this slick dream rod from the ground up. Once again, it proves that when you have good game plan and the team of hardworking craftsman, all sorts of sunshine can come streaming into your life.

’35 Roadster ‘Cyprus’

Colour:PPG Copper Sunburst
Induction:750cfm Demon
Gearbox:Tremec 5-speed
Clutch:Ford Motorsport
Diff:8.8in Lincoln LSD
Base chassis:’37 Ford frame rails
Front suspension:Double A-arm IFS
Rear suspension:Custom IRS
Bags:Air Ride Shock Wave
Brakes:Wilwood four-spot calipers, Baer rotors
Base body:’37 fibreglass replica
Fenders:’35 fibreglass
Grille:Modified ’35
Headlights:Harley-Davidson V-Rod
Rims:MC Billets, 17x7in (f), 20x10in (r)
Rubber:Toyo 215/40 (f), 265/50 (r)