Big Kid Toy
Kris Goodrich has been modifying cars for as long as he’s been able to drive.
At 16, he swapped the engine in his first car, a ’36 Pontiac. From there, he’s customized more vehicles than he can remember. At age 57, the owner of Goodrich Auto Works in Bath, N.Y., says he generally builds a new street machine every other year. He’ll find a new challenge, tackle it head-on, enjoy the vehicle for a bit, sell it and move on to the next one.
He’s pieced together some wild rides during the last several decades, including one that combined two 1985 Dodge Charger front ends, retaining both engines so it could drive “forward” from either end. So, when one of his staffers showed him a 1:64 scale twin-V8 street rod a couple of years ago, Goodrich’s reaction wasn’t surprising.
“I looked at it and thought, ‘I could do that,’” Goodrich says.
A shop owner since 1977, Goodrich has developed a crew of employees, family and friends who help him on his builds. His 30,000-square-foot, 22-employee shop is a full-service mechanical and collision repair facility, so he has everything needed for even the most challenging projects at his disposal.
Though the toy car was a ’30s sedan, Goodrich, with input from son Aaron, decided to go with a ’37 Ford pickup for the project. He found one in Kentucky through a Craigslist ad that was mostly original, with some suspension upgrades and fiberglass rear fenders.
Before getting started, Goodrich utilized his side business, Goody’s Graphics and Signs, to create a complete electronic rendering of his vision for the street rod. Much of the staff had input on the design and a printout was made to ensure everyone was on the same page.
“That way I didn’t have to describe what I wanted to anyone,” Goodrich says.
Goodrich assigned a couple of his technicians to the pickup and the rest of the crew chipped in during downtime and on nights and weekends. The modifications were extensive: the top was chopped six inches in front and five in back to give it a rake, and the bed was shortened 18 inches. With the help of former employee Doug Kennedy and chassis company Pete and Jake’s, a custom frame was built from 2 inch by 4 inch rectangular steel tubing, after a mock-up was first built with wood.
Goodrich has a thing for bowties, so he had local shop Kirkum’s Automotive build identical 350ci Chevys each topped with a 6-71 blower and dual 750 cfm Holleys. The zoomie headers look raucous, but they are only functional on the front engine. The rear engine is equipped with block-hugger headers and a more traditional exhaust system—the zoomies were welded on to complete the look.
The engines are connected with a heavy-duty spline that can be disconnected, so Goodrich can drive with one engine or two. Each engine has its own battery, gas tank, radiator (the rear engine’s is under the bed) and other accessories.
TCI customized a torque converter that can handle the huge power differences between one and two engines and the company also built a special TH400 automatic transmission for the pickup. Rounding out the drivetrain is a Ford nine-inch rear with a limited slip differential and 3:73:1 gears. A coil over suspension system keeps the ride smooth.
The body was sprayed in a classic hot rod style—black with yellow and orange flames. Just in front of the doors is a V8 squared logo that Goodrich and his team came up with for the project. The logo is repeated in the headliner, part of a custom interior that includes five hides of maroon leather and a finished wood floor that replicated the pickup’s bed. Goodrich’s team spent about 1,000 hours on the build before completing it last June, just in time for show season. Goodrich says he drives it on the rear engine and is cautious about when he fires up the front one because of how violent it sounds.
“It’s the loudest car at the car show,” he says. “Kids are crying, dogs are running and people are grabbing their chests.”
He’s having fun with it, but he’s already thinking about what’s next.
“Maybe a turbine car,” he says. “I think that’d be cool.”