For Tom Krause, of Central City, his first vehicles were go-karts – driving them, then building them - even building a dyno for testing them. Then it was motorcycles, eventually joining a Harley Road Glide club. His wife, Dawn, would ride along, but eventually tired of the open air of motorcycles. Tom researched various options of buying or building something with 4 wheels and she was given a choice in the matter, opting for something with a roof.
Tom then contacted Spirit Cars of Flippin, Arkansas, a manufacturer of 1923 to 1934 fiberglass hot rod replica bodies and parts for 25 years. One can purchase individual parts for a project or buy a completed “turn-key” car, ready to hit the road. A company like this may not sit well with the purists who have knowledge, tools, facilities and money to build the “real deal trailer queens”, but it’s a viable option for a guy like Krause with a basic knowledge and desire to “learn by doing”.
Tom and Dawn chose the 3-door 1931 Sedan Delivery. The third one is steel-reinforced at the rear, very handy for hauling essentials on long-distance trips. Their order included the chassis with brakes, fuel system, a/c, etc., but minus wheels, tires, engine, transmission, and exhaust. The body includes a recessed firewall, flush-mounted latched doors with power windows, a 3 1/2” chopped roof, along with seats and carpeting. It is delivered in black feather primer with Nida-Cor matting to strengthen the roof and floor. Krause received his order in April of 2016, and wisely decided to first have the chassis powdercoated at The Powder Shop, then mounted wheels and tires. 17” ET 4.5” wide “Gasser” wheels are up front with 275/60 15” Rocket Racing “Injectors” for the rear. The drivetrain came from a Mercury Grand Marquis with a 302 V8 and an 4-speed AOD tranny. The 9” Ford rearend has 3.55 gears. Krause built his own Lakester-style exhaust system, did all the “plumbing” and electrical, along with many of his own touches. The prep work on the steel reinforced fiberglass body took more time and effort than expected. The UreKem Paint color Copperhead was a great choice along with Gun Metal Gray for the accenting scallops. Tom and Dawn spent 40 hours over a weekend spraying 3 base coats and 5 coats of clear. Krause took 8-10 hours just to mask off the scallops. But it all came out very nice, especially considering it was the first full paint job he ever attempted. The entire experience was relatively pleasant. Krause was working the second shift at Collins and had most of the day to labor on the car.
With less than 100 miles on the odometer, Tom felt very confident in driving the copper beauty to the 2017 GoodGuys Show in Des Moines and did so again in ‘18 and ‘19. Apparently, the ‘31 garnered plenty of attention in its first year on the road, as it received an invitation to appear at the annual Rod & Custom Show in February, 2018, at Monticello’s Berndes Center, where it trophied. Later the year, Tom and Dawn took it to Fort Dodge for the “Cruise to the Woods” show where it received a Top 15 award over 1,200 cars. Last year, it was selected as one of a dozen cars to be “featured” at Waterloo’s 4th Street Cruise and may be chosen to receive major recognition on this year’s posters and t-shirts. The Krauses attend many smaller local shows, some as far away as Tom’s hometown of Britt, IA, for Hobo Days, or Savanna, IL. The car turns a lot of heads wherever it goes and has collected a lot of hardware in 3 short years. Not bad for a “mail-order” project, eh?
There is no trailer to save it from rock chips and scratches, but as Krause says, “It’s a car, meant to be driven”. As for future plans... possibly a trip to St. Paul for the “Back to the ‘50s” show with 12,000 cars, where it will still turn a few heads. And as for selling the ‘31...”Everything is for sale and another project may be down the road”. Well said.