The Copper Coupe

Project Description

Vivian Johnson’s Copper Coupe was done over a 3 year period while Jeff also worked to complete several other build projects. The build was completed on June 5th 2015, she had 0.6miles on the odomenter, we took off on June 6th for our shake down run to “Back to the 50’s” Car show in Minneapolis. She ran without a flaw without break downs or problems along the way. She currently has about 13k on her odometer. Were there moments of disagreements?  Well heck yeah! I fought hard for things like the color and of course the side pipes. I wanted the car to introduce herself first by the sound and then seal the deal by the color and stance.

Project Owners

Owner/Builders  Jeff Johnson & Vivian Tad Johnson
Car Designer  Vivian Tad Johnson
Date  Date of Completion
Social Links  Facebook:  Jeff Johnson  /  Vivian Tad Johnson

Car Specs

Year/Model  1932 Ford 3 window
Body Type  Bear Fiberglass body
Chassis  Total Cost Involved and modified by Jeff Johnson
Engine Specs  383 stroker GM crate motor
Brakes  Front: Wildwood disc / Rear: 9″ Ford Drums
Wheels  Vintiques Steel Wheels
Tires  WW from Coker
Paint  Copper Firemist by Jeff Johnson
Interior  Vivian Johnson and Jeff Johnson
Body / Metal Work  Jeff Johnson

About the Build

What led you to build this specific car?
This is what my wife wanted!

Are you a professional car builder?
Retired now and have my hobby back.

How long did the build take? (from zero to riding the car)
We built the car in a year.

Other than yourself, whom else did you find invaluable as a relationship to make the car a reality?
My wife.

How often do you use the car?
The car was done Father’s Day, 2014. Since then we have driven over 13,000 miles.


When showing the car what do you tend to point out the most?
The car has a lot of small details.

What part of the build results surprised you the most?
Just how much fun it is to build a car now that it is as hobby again.

What part of the build turned out to be so hard you’d avoid it in the future?
Doing the interior.

What wisdom gained from your build experience would you offer to someone considering building a car like yours.
Make sure, as you do the work, that you are very happy with the way things look. It’s not worth rushing to finish and in the end not being really happy with the results.

Car Prep

Frame in primer.

Body work took about 40 hours and it’s been blocked and re-primed 5 times. The process took about a 100 hours total to get the desired finish.

Doing it backwards and adjusting the body to the frame for door gaps and hood alignment after the frame has been painted! Should have done this before but decided to change body from roadster to coupe instead.


Before: Making of taillights and taillight stands | After: Fully assembled and painted taillights.

Paint & Body

Also the pinstriping was done by Mr. Rodney Early of South Carolina. One amazing guy who took my ideas and put them on the Copper Coupe. I wanted subtle colors to allow the color of the car to carry the weight of its beauty.

Steel wheels painted tan.

Transmission was ground smooth and painted. Approximately 40 hours of labor.

Raw copper paint on the coupe.

Painted underside of body the same contrasting tan color as wheels.

Engine & Drivetrain

1: Motor before in the chassis | 2: Plumbing started on installed motor. | 3: Rear view of chassis. | 4: Transmission cooler installed. | 5: Gas line run with in-line filter.


We did the interior together but I collaborated with a friend of mine in Austin Texas, Phillip Cato of Cato Upholstery. He provided a sounding board for me when I hit the wall or was just frustrated. You could say that he talked me through some difficult things.

Aluminum inside panels being constructed that my wife, Vivian, will cover later.

Making sill plates that will end up coved with the same material as the inside of the car.

In order not to get glue overspray on the carpet we covered the carpet with paper.

Setting the gauges in the dash.

Nothing is better then the surprises you get when looking at the details.
Jeff fabricated the headlight stands for the commercial headlights making this front end really shine!


1: Getting the body ready to put on the frame since this is a one guy and girl shop. | 2: Vivian, the designer, starting to put the parts on the painted frame. | 3: Motor in the chassis | 4: Body on chassis | 5: Plumbing the A/C and other lines | 6: Started mounting taillights and other parts.

Share Your 32 Ride

If you own a 1926-1932 fenderless, highboy/vintage styled car and would like to share your build experience with the Fuel32 tribe, send us an email with a short description and a few car pics for review. We're always looking to celebrate the success of the vintage car craftsmen.

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