Surprisingly, one overlooked challenge of owning a hot rod shop is getting pigeonholed for a particular build type. That is acceptable for some, but others like to continue stretching their boundaries. Portland, Tennessee’s Jason Graham, of Jason Graham Hot Rods, is the type who likes to expand his horizons. After doing several traditional, albeit high-end builds, he worried people might be overlooking him for other styles and longed to do a Pro-Touring car. Without a customer for that kind of build, he decided to create one for himself.
It’s no doubt that Graham is accomplished; Jason Graham Hot Rods has many accolades with past builds. In 2015, his 1930 Model A sedan garnered a Goodguys Top 5, competing for Hot Rod of the Year. He backed it up in 2016 with a unibody 1961 Ford F100, winning Goodguys Truck of the Year. He won it again in 2018 with a 1934 Ford pickup that was also awarded a Great 8 at the Detroit Autorama. With that kind of caliber, you know his personal car wouldn’t be ordinary.
A Start Like None Other
Graham has always loved the 1963 ½ Ford Galaxie with its sloping roofline. He found a stripped-down hull of one in a barn, discarded for being “too rough to build.” In fact, it was so rough that the owner gave it to him, along with a parts car, just to take it off his hands. He wasted no time loading them up and taking them back to his shop. His next move was to spill out his ideas to Eric Brockmeyer for a rendering. The build started on Thanksgiving weekend of 2018 in shop off-hours.
Pro-Touring And Restomod Vibes
The Pro-Touring and Restomod vibe was essential, but there are challenges when building a big-body full-size project like this. Graham knew the foundation would be paramount in getting the stance and rigidity he needed to support the modern engine plans. Looking at how low it sits, you would swear it was on air ride, but it’s not. A Roadster Shop Revo chassis complete with upgraded Penske double-adjustable coilover shocks make it ride lower and handle like a modern-day hot rod. Baer Brakes hang on all four corners with six-piston calipers clamping on 14-inch rotors up front and 12-inch rotors with four-pistons on the rear.
Surprisingly, the underside is one of Graham’s proudest parts, even though no one gets to see it. He spent tons of time crafting the panels underneath for a super-clean look. One thing he didn’t like on pretty much any original body was the pinch welds at the rockers. They’re a necessary evil, but they’re unattractive. Graham lowered the rockers and boxed them into the frame to clean up the side view, essentially turning them into belly pans. Continuing the Pro-Touring theme, he built full belly pans to cover the area between the frame rails from front to rear with screen mesh outlets for the muffler heat.
Simplifying The Body
Working his way upwards, Graham didn’t want to change the body, but felt the factory trim was a little overkill and wanted to simplify the lines. He removed the upper body trim and the quarter panel accents. The front bumper received an air dam and lost its license plate indent, while the rear got exhaust exits. The grille is a really trick piece; he borrowed an original grille from George Poteet and had it 3D scanned, so that One Ten Machining in Gallatin, Tennessee, could fabricate a one-off billet grille. Once prepped, Graham sent the trim to the experts at Advanced Plating in Nashville to be brushed and nickel-plated.
Color Theory 101
While they were waiting for the trim to return, Madison Alexander came in to spray the BASF Glasurit Inferno Orange Pearl paint all over the well-massaged body. Graham saw the color on the new Toyota trucks and thought it made a great hot rod color. It really pops against the brushed nickel trim. The 19×9.5-inch front and 20×12.5-inch rear wheels are one-off, three-piece works of art from One Ten Machining. They are finished in brushed nickel hoops and knock-offs with satin charcoal centers. Tires are from Federal and are sized 265/35R19 front and 345/30R20 rear.
The engine bay received a nicely packaged 2016 5.0-liter Ford Racing Coyote featuring a VMP 2.65-liter TVS supercharger, 73mm throttle body, and 1,000cc injectors. Fabricated inner fender wells finished in Satin Charcoal to match the wheels are tight to the powerplant and contrast perfectly with the orange valve covers and exterior. RingBrothers hinges for a 1966-’67 Chevelle were retrofitted to work on the Ford. The V8’s power transfers to a 6R80 six-speed automatic transmission through a Driveshaft Shop 4-inch aluminum driveshaft to a Currie 9-inch rearend.
Inside is as high-end as you would expect. Stepping past the custom “Galaxie” door sills, you smell nothing but Moore and Giles rust brown leather. Graham fabricated the custom door panels and center console fitted with a Lokar shifter. John Miller handled the foam work, stitching, and installation on the Snowden bucket seats. Once again, One Ten Machining’s skills were tested by fabricating the one-off steering wheel designed by Graham and Brockmeyer. A custom-built, one-off Dakota Digital dash with a white faceplate monitors the vitals while Vintage Air keeps the occupants comfortable.
A Rolling Calling Card
It’s hard to believe that this vehicle started its show-car life as a throw-away hull in a barn. It’s also astounding to think you could find this level of quality in just 18 months and 3,000 man-hours during shop off-hours. Graham and his wife, Tasha, have enjoyed traveling the country this year, racking up awards while using the car as a calling card. It won Best of Show at Holley’s Ford Fest in Bowling Green and was just crowned the 2021 Goodguys “Custom Rod of the Year.” The final stop is in Scottsdale, Arizona, where it will contend for the Barrett-Jackson Cup in January. This 1963 ½ Ford Galaxie is a testament to the passion, skill, and attention to detail with which Jason Graham Hot Rods executes every build. Good luck in the Barrett Jackson Cup, Jason!