Lately, we've been seeing a lot of street rod builders building non-street rods. That isn't to say they're building "off-road" vehicles, rather post-'48 rods...in other words, custom rods! But don't automatically assume that the earlier-iron well is drying up, quite the contrary-the street rod industry has a long way to go. But, it seems many are starting to look "across 49th Street" as it were. Proof positive is this latest offering from Tennessee rod builder extraordinaire, Bobby Alloway.

Even if it is just barely eligible-crossing the line at '49-it's definitely no street rod...or is it? Does the year designation alone classify the Ford convertible as a custom rod? Obviously, it does set the "slab-side" tradition of later cars (absence of four removable, bulbous fenders), but if you were to strip away the entire sheetmetal assembly, well...you'd basically have a street rod! So, things start to get murky here, but they don't have to be. The whole premise of a custom rod's makeup is its street rod-heritage foundation, that being a well-handling suspension and a performance-oriented drivetrain. That, my friends, is what Alloway's Shoebox is all about. It's a custom rod.

If you're familiar with any of Alloway's cars, then you know there are three important and indicative factors with each and every one of them-stance, wheel and tire choice, and powertrain. First off, Bobby likes a good rake, and this is in direct relation to the second factor of tire choice, as he likes a good-sized piece of rubber out back. The final ingredient for the Alloway trilogy is a healthy big-block, in this case a 460 Cobra jet straight from Ford Racing and Performance. All of this is put together in a package that not only performs up to daily-driving standards, but also looks the part of a 100-point show car to boot. Take a look-see for yourself.

Underneath that flawless black wrapper, the crew at Alloway Hot Rods in Louisville, Tennessee, ridded the stock FoMoCo chassis of its pin and upright frontend and tired leaf-sprung suspensions, in their place grafting an Art Morrison tubular control arm IFS with a matching four-link supporting a Currie 9-inch rearend. Both setups use Wilwood six-piston disc brakes mounting Bobby's own five-spoke wheels-milled exclusively for him by Coddington-in 17x7 and 20x10 configurations, respectively, which aid in the Shoebox's mean California rake. In-between the Morrison front stub rails is a stout Blue Oval V-8, the previously mentioned 460 Cobra Jet, which out of the box produces enough power (in the mid-500 range) to scoot the drop-top along the Southern highways and byways quite effortlessly (of course with the added benefit of a 3.00-geared ring and pinion allowing the C-6 to spin at livable rpms). The big-block is outfitted with a Barry Grant 850-cfm carb, electronic ignition, and Sanderson headers feeding Flowmaster mufflers.

Now, back to that flawless wrapper. The sheetmetal received some minor de-chroming, removal of some unneeded protrusions, and even the shaving and filling of the rear-quarter seams, before being blocked and smoothed to absolute perfection. And so it would have to be, because as you know, black reveals all...well, in this case, it reveals all the hard work that went into making the Ford's flat-yet-curvaceous body spot on. With his appropriate use of chrome, stainless, and aluminum (including the headlight rings and basic side trim), Alloway's ragtop looks menacing, especially cradled over his signature wheels. But, at the same time, the Ford is in no way overpowering, of course other than brute power beneath the hood!

Finally, Bobby called upon his exclusive upholstery guy, Paul Atkins, to literally wrap the '49 up in a fitting manner. That entailed yards of precisely cut and stitched black leather stretched over a pair of '64 'Bird buckets, a custom bench rear seat, and smooth door panels that encompass "frenched" Sony speakers and custom-made accent trim. Along with cleverly placed Classic Instruments gauges (of course, emblazoned with the Alloway logo), a Lecarra four-spoke wheel, Lokar shifter and pedals, and polished rectangular vents to flow the Vintage Air system, probably the most painstaking addition to the cockpit is the '56 Ford (car) dash. Fit just perfectly, unless you knew better, you might think it was stock!

Tail-dragger, fuzzy dice toting cruiser, Alloway's little drop-top 'box is not. Flawless execution of fit, finish, and just the right amount of subtle hot rod styling-it's that, and then some! Once again, the '49 is pure custom rod through and through.