There’s just something about classic beauty that is well, classic. John Cowell of Temecula, California is a huge proponent of classic and it’s not just because he has had a passion for clean customs for more than four decades now. John actually fell in love with the aesthetics and beauty of classic cars when he was a kid. He began building model cars at age 11 and not to give away his age, but that was back in 1965. By the time he was 20 he picked up his first project – a 1953 Chevy Pickup and began to tinker more and more.

Fast forward a few decades and John has had his fair share of cars over the years, including a few customs. One of his favorite past builds was a 1957 Bel Air that he fixed up a bit and cruised to shows all over the Southwest, some of his fondest memories before he took on his “dream build” and began hunting for the perfect canvas. For years and years John had been envisioning building his dream car, a 1935 Ford Five Window Coupe covered in deep black and slammed to the ground. So, when the time came he knew exactly how he wanted the car to look since he had already been day-dreaming about it for so long.

Image-Ford-07Image-Ford-03Image-Ford-05 Photos & Words: Mike Alexander

The fateful day had come and the hunt for John’s dream build began. It didn’t take long for him to track down a decent canvas and since he already knew who would handle his project build it was easy for him to rest assured that it would be in good hands. Long time friends Keith and Misty Vander Meulen owned a local custom shop in Santa Maria, California – Image Street Rods & Customs, and they had helped John out on some of his past builds. Although, this time around they would be going a bit further, John still knew that Keith and the Image crew were the perfect shop to tackle his dream build.

Putting pen to paper, they began to collaborate on the overall vision and theme for the 1935 Ford. Wanting to keep it classic ’50s and ’60s looks with some modern equipped conveniences, a plan was hatched and the project was soon underway. John was careful to avoid not throwing too many random ideas at a single build, opting for the clean and classy overall look that he was after from the very beginning. This blended perfectly with Keith and the Image crew’s style of builds so things began to come together quite nicely. First up was to get the stance a little closer to the pavement utilizing a bit of that modern convenience. A Scott’s Hot Rod‘s Super Slam IFS was utilized up front while an Image-built 4-bar was fitted to the Currie 9-inch out back.


Once the altitude was properly adjusted it was time for the Image Street Rods crew to get down to business and do what they do best – IMAGE STYLE! The body was bolted to the chassis and the details began to take shape as the body was prepped for a super deep House of Kolor black paint job. While the body was being prepped, the rest of the team dialed in the simple, yet reliable 350/350 combo under the hood and finalized the rest of the exterior details, sending parts out to be chrome-plated. One mod that really sets John’s Smokn’ 35 apart from others are the custom suicide doors where Image moved the exterior door handles forward and kept everything fully functional. Just one of the many subtle details that help keep this ’35 a bit different from the rest.

With the body prepped and smoothed the Image crew spent countless hours laying down the black and the clear for that perfect mirror finish. With the paint cut and cured the assembly was shortly underway. The final exterior details included the freshly triple-chrome front bumper and accessories, along with the addition of an amazing Alumicraft hand-made grille. Class from every angle, Smokn’ 35 certainly has it! An interior revamp was needed and just like the rest of the build, simple and clean was the theme. Some hidden Secret Audio components, along with black leather does the trick quite nicely. The Image Street Rods crew took John’s vision and brought his dream to life with flawless execution and John tells us he couldn’t be happier. “This build has meant so much to me, and some of my very best memories are showing this car all over with friends and family,” and that right there is what it’s all about! Exactly the reason why John Cowell’s Smokn’ 35 has received the Slam’d Mag seal of approval and landed the cover spot of Issue 02 along with being our special “Encore” feature. Check out the specs below for more build details.


Slam’d Specs

Image-Ford-04Owner: John Cowell
Vehicle: 1935 Ford 5W Coupe
Hometown: Temecula, CA

Front: Wheel Vintiques 16×6 Chrome with Baby Moons
Rear: Wheel Vintiques 16×8 Chrome with Baby Moons
Tires Front: Steel-belted whitewall radials 215/60/16
Tires Rear: Steel-belted whitewall radials 235/60/16
Brakes: Wilwood 4-wheel disc

Front: IFS Scott’s Hot Rods Super Slam
Rear: Custom Image Street Rods 4-link setup
Currie Ford 9-inch Posi with 3.0 gears
RideTech airbags and controls
Viair 400C Air Compressor
Suspension installed by Image Street Rods

Roof filled, cowl air vent filled
Suicide doors
Alumicraft custom grille
Louvered hood sides changed to smooth sides
Added 5-inch recessed custom firewall
Painted HOK Black with deep clear finish
Body mods and paint performed by Image Street Rods

Original seat with reworked leather upholstery
Original dash with custom 4-inch extensions for A/C controls and vents
Dolphin Gauges
Leather door panels, trunk, seats, and headliner
Tilt Wheel
Secret Audio headunit
Four Secret Audio 6×9s
Two 10-Inch subwoofers
Secret Audio amplifiers

1978 Chevy 350
Turbo 350 trans with Lokar shifter
Chet Herbert Cam
Edelbrock performer intake
Sanderson Headers
Full custom Image Street Rods 2-inch exhaust with race-ready cut outs

Special Thanks From Owner:
John would like to give a special thanks Keith and Misty Vander Meulen from Image Street Rods for turning his dream into a reality, as well as everyone that helped lend a hand along the way. Also a very special shout out to John’s family for their constant support throughout the build and sharing his dream.

Check Out The Full Slam’d Gallery Here: