Classy Custom: Manuel Reyes’ 1936 Ford Coupe

When it comes to early style customs, Manuel Reyes’ 1936 Ford is in a league of its own. Chopped, shaved, and lowered to perfection, the Emerald Green coupe is a tribute to the elegant customs of the 1940s. “We wanted it to look like it was a nice 1936 Ford done in 1947-1948,” he says. “That’s exactly what we wanted. Clean. Clean.” Despite its traditional exterior, Manuel built this car to drive.

“We’ve had the car since 1977, but it wasn’t until around 2000 that we actually got serious about it,” he says. Starting with a bone-stock coupe, the original plan was to build it into a hot rod. Then, around 1980, he started gravitating towards the streamlined look.

It’s important to note that Manuel is a lifelong hot rodder and custom painter. He started painting cars as a teenager back in the 1950s. “Since I got out of high school!” he says. “The following Monday I went to go work at my uncle’s body shop to learn how to paint, and the first week they showed me how to sand.

Since then, he’s had a hand in a long list of memorable machines ranging from drag cars like the “15oz. Coupe” to the world-famous “California Kid.” He has an affinity for hot rods, but he knew his ’36 needed to be something different.

Reyes painted the flames on the late Pete Chapouris’ “California Kid” in the early 1970s.

Inspired by customs of yesteryear, Manuel worked with Pete Chapouris of SoCal Speed Shop, Pete Eastwood and Geoff Mitford-Taylor to bring his vision to life.

For the chassis, Reyes opted for Mustang II suspension up front and parallel leaf springs in the rear. Power comes from a smallblock Chevy. “We set it all up so it was low, but the we couldn’t get it out of our driveway,” he says, “and that’s where Ridetech came in.”

Manuel teamed up with Jimmy White of Circle City Hot Rods to install Ridetech air bags on the rear. How’s it work? “Perfect, perfect, perfect!” Manuel says. “You have to take it slow, but it works. It was a clean installation.”

The more you look at the car, the more tasteful changes you’ll notice. There’s the narrowed grille, sunken-in headlights, chopped top, and the frenched license plate. Every customization was carefully planned and expertly executed.

When it was time for paint, Manuel worked his magic. “My wife named it, but it’s an Emerald Green metallic,” he says. “We made it semi translucent, and then we sprayed it over a black base so that when the light falls away from the highlights, it gets very dark.” It comes as no surprise that he painted the car himself.

Now that the coupe is finished, Manuel and his wife Sylvia are enjoying cruising around Southern California and beyond. “It’s a joy to drive,” he says. “It’s a joy to be out with it. We enjoy the people enjoying the car.”

For the full story, make sure to check out the video below.

2 thoughts on “Classy Custom: Manuel Reyes’ 1936 Ford Coupe

  1. Pingback: An Interview with Manuel Reyes | The Jalopy Journal The Jalopy Journal

  2. Manuel Reyes says:

    Thanks for the great article on our ‘36 Ford Coupe by talented journalist Joey Ukrop. Mentioned to him of our experience with your fantastic tech guy. He put us on the right path on setting our car up properly with your great product. Very satisfied with our choice eon going with RideTech.

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