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1933 Ford Coupe - Employee Rides: Jess Gasper

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It’s always on the tip of my tongue, but it’s hard to put into words. What does this car mean to me? It’s a question I can never quite answer on the spot. I know how this little ’33 5-window coupe makes me feel. I know how it makes a long day melt away. I know I’m proud of it and all the hard work that went into it.

This coupe build means hours and hours of shop time with my dad. And shop time has qualities all its own. It’s planning and making lists, laughing, yelling, and sometimes learning a new cuss word. It’s mockups, little successes, measuring twice, screwing up, it’s looking for that stupid wrench I just had in my hand a minute ago! It’s working together to problem-solve, learning how to take direction and listening to the ’60s on 6 with the Big Bopper and Roy Orbison. It’s hearing car stories from friends that stop by to check on progress and end up lending a hand.

I have a different understanding of it all now. I wasn’t a kid then, not really. We dropped the calico-colored body from the attic the year I turned 21. And the build went on until I was 28 or 29. So not a kid at all, only in the way that you feel like a kid in comparison to your parents.

I marvel at his energy. His drive and passion. Life was hectic then. He juggled a full-time job, a Bonneville land speed streamliner and team, multiple house projects for his kids, the coupe build and maintenance of the daily drivers and acreage. It was as if he moved effortlessly through the world, steady and strong. However slow or minimal the progress on the coupe, it was still progress. And over the years, life propelled us forward and gave us momentum. Little reminders that we only control so much, so dang it, get this hot rod on the road already.

He had a vision for this hot rod. Something simple and everlasting. Ever the dutiful hot rodder, he had collected parts and pieces over the years. Headlights, splined brake drums, backing plates, spindles, axle and radius rods, were all stowed always in the barn or shop attic. We found other parts at swap meets or at Speedway, thankful we could just walk into the parts counter and pick up what was needed for that night’s project.

And one day, the car was at riding height on its own wheels and tires. Then it had primer. And soon after that, it had glass. The mood in the shop changed somehow. I could feel the excitement in the air. We were close. This was a real car. Not just a plan on paper, not just a project on blocks. Then we fired it up for the first time and after that was the maiden voyage down the driveway, then to the corner, then around the section.

From there it was road trips to the Goodguys show in DesMoines, Iowa, the KKOA Leadsled Show in Salina, Kansas, and then to the HAMB Drags in Joplin, Missouri. It’s been to countless Vintage Torquefest shows in Dubuque, Iowa, and nearly all of the Hot Rod Hill Climbs in Colorado. I’ve met all of my ‘friends for life’ friends because of this little coupe - because the car community thrives in Nebraska. And the friends that aren’t so close, well, we know we’ll see each other at a car show real soon.

And every so often, my dad will drive the coupe and I’ll sit shotgun. A reverse role for me so it feels odd, but right somehow. Some memories are embedded in the tangible. And they are things I’ll always carry with me. Sooooo what does this car mean to me? It means the world to me. Just like my dad.

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