Dale-Dragger | 1936 Ford Coupe Custom

Words Luke Ray & Dale French Photography Luke Ray

Location Melbourne, Australia


LR: Dale French is a regular, friendly face around the Victorian hot rod and custom car shows. We featured Dale’s stunning ‘54 Chev in an old issue of Fuel Magazine and he’s always got another interesting project on the go.


I’ve been watching his ‘36 project come together for a while now, so when I bumped into him at the Boogaloo Invitational earlier this year, it was finally time to grab some shots. Dale and I took an hour out of the show, found a quiet spot on the outskirts of Castlemaine and popped off a few photos. Here’s Dale to give the brief rundown of where he’s at with this stunning custom build...

DF: My names Dale French from Melbourne and I’ve been a glazier for 23 years. My dad had a lot of different cars whilst I was growing up which sparked the interest. It wasn’t until I was 23 that I purchased my first older car; an HG Holden Kingswood wagon.


After that came a 1950 ford F150 whilst I was building a ‘32 Ford coupe. But, it was when I purchased my ‘54 Chev that the interest in custom cars was truly sparked. I’ve had a couple different cars in between; a ‘48 Chevrolet Fleetline and a ‘55 Chevy wagon. I sold the ‘32 to purchase that one. 

So, the 1936 Ford 3-window coupe… I had full intentions when I purchased this car. I wanted a tail dragger-style ‘36. I’ve been looking at pictures and dreaming for a few years now and knew I had to make it happen, so the ‘32 hot rod coupe went on the market.

I found the ‘36 on the Ford Barn forum, it came from Idaho, USA. The car was in excellent restored condition. It’s a full steel body with mechanical brakes and an all-original driveline. I’ve owned the car for almost two years now and in that time it spent almost a year on the hoist at home.

During that time I notched the chassis by 5”, set up a four-bar rear with an 8” diff. It has the original 1936 21-stud Flathead V8 with an S10 5-speed. I’ve converted it to 12 volt and re-wired the whole car. I’m running chrome wheels all round with Lyons caps up front and Coker 560–15 tyres.

The rear is airbagged using Firestone bags and an Accuair e-Level from Air Ride Suspension Supplies in Melbourne. The interior has the original seat and door trims. I’ve had new carpet and hood lining installed after setting the original lining on fire! It has a Crestliner steering wheel and a few extra gauges.  


I enjoyed doing all the chassis and driveline work myself with advice and help from friends. I’ve had custom flush mount skirts made for the rear. That metalwork was done by Andy Scicluna and then fine-tuned and painted by Troy Palmer. Troy also patched up the spare wheel holes and blended in the paint.


I have another Flathead to replace the original and would like to finish trimming the boot and a few minor things. I’m currently undecided whether or not I should chop the roof, I’m just enjoying driving it for the time being.


I’m currently also working on a ‘59 Chevrolet wagon. I’m adding a few custom touches to that one including some nice paint detailing by Matt Eagan that he just finished.

Follow Dale: @frenchyruby54