Stitching together over 30 cars, Mark Apap’s 1947 Ford Coupe Custom has been chopped, bagged, frenched, stretched, blown, curved, refabbed and brought to life.
With half a ton of horsepower the ’47 is a picturesque zombie, with embellished lines exposed under clear coat. The rumble and whine of the customs supercharged V8 is enough to make anyone grab the pomade, crank up some rockabilly and make a drink in a Tiki mug.
One of four cars, each with its own feature worthy story and style, Mark’s garage is hot rodder paradise; A love letter to the style and the culture.
Son of a politician, his childhood did not feature the steel and octane adventures you might expect for such a prolific builder. He came to cars himself. His passion started with movies. The scraping, high attitude hot rods featured in American Graffiti and the California Kid were the hook. All of a sudden a pre-teen Mark found himself stopping, rewinding and staring.
“Seeing those cars gave me a bug,” says Mark.
For Mark, 50’s and 60’s era hot rods and street rods are as good as it gets. The sun-bleached streets of California is where he feels he belongs. He counts multiple meetings with legends like Gene Winfield, George Barris and Chip Foose as part of his trips to the Golden State.
Working a paper route and washing cars, earning $10 a week, Mark saved for his first car like it was a Sydney terrace. It was his sole focus.
With his hard earned in a princely pile, Mark made his first move – a 1933 Ford five-window coupe. Building the five-window with an American 60’s drag racing look, the raked and ready rod has remained in his garage. The garage tells part of Mark’s life story. It is where he has dreamed up and built cars and friendships and found a get away from daily stresses. It’s what keeps him motivated.
“I kept on building more cars, more cars,” says Mark.
“It’s an escape. I try to forget about everything, work and that type of stuff… I love the build. I enjoy it… Dreaming of it. “
His garage is a junior hot-rodder’s or custom fiend’s fever dream.
The sentimental five-window is joined by an orange ’32 Ford Roadster show car from Sydney, a black ’33 three window coupe street rod and the ’47 Coupe.
The start of Coupenstein’s story will be familiar to any reader who has ever purchased a car without a chance to inspect it. Advertised as a finished project, Mark imported the ‘47 sight unseen from the US. An article on the car by CarsGuide summed up the condition of the ’47 on arrival
“Unfortunately it was built dodgier than a 3am back street kebab”
“Ripping up the carpet, the floor was shot, the roof chop was terrible. It needed to be redone,” says Mark.
For most people that’s a kick in the guts. For Mark, it meant an opportunity to go one step beyond.
“It was probably a good thing, if I bought a stock 47 Ford, I wouldn’t have taken it this far.”
Little remains of the original Ford chassis. The work done is not as justified by a list of modifications as it is by the utter presence of the coupe. Handmade fabrication augments every inch of the cars clear-coated exterior. From the grille he designed himself in CAD to the rear ‘WY2LOW’ license plate. The roof is chopped nine inches front and 10 rear, finished with an EK Holden roof skin. The rear windows have been made pillarless. A new floor and firewall underpin the wok, with a frenching kit and all radiuses curved. Seeing the widened head lights racing up in your rear view is equivalent to having Frankenstein knock on your door.
Under the hood, a 350 cube V8 is kept on toes by an Edelbrock supercharger, breathing into a Da Vane 750 carburetor. It spins 500 horses into a Turbo 700 gearbox, shifted from the divinely air-conditioned and luxuriously trimmed interior. A triangular four bar suspension set up rear and a Jaguar front end with air bag and shock suspension keep the car super low, and stable.
The ’47 Coupe will tote Mark, drama free, from Melbourne to Sydney to meet with his car club, the Outkasts CC.
The best part of the build? Waking Coupenstein. Flattening the throttle with the supercharger wailing and the tyres spitting dust and bellowing smoke, that’s Mark’s happy place.
He now turns his attention to black ‘33 three-window coupe. Building it a cross between two hot rod icons California Kid and the Cop Shop Coupe. Hit Google images with those two terms, you won’t be disappointed.
For the aspiring custom or rod builder, Mark offered up a few tips.
“You need function. Function is very important. If you’re ever going to do anything, it has to be considered from an engineering perspective as well. Brakes, motor, gearbox, steering. How it’s all positioned. You can’t just slap things on there so it looks good, it could kill you,” he says.
“Research. Read magazines and talk to people. Learn what’s involved. Then keep trying to improve. I am constantly trying to better the ride, the comfort, as well as my own skills.”
Get involved. You may just find yourself with a garage of drool makers like Mark one day.