My love affair with louvers started about nineteen years ago.
My good friend Bryan Barts found a front clip on eBay that was louvered for $400. It was "pickup only" and located in Kearny Nebraska. I messaged the the seller and asked if he would work with me on pickup... its about 1300 miles round trip from Northern Minnesota.
I wound up driving down in my Uncle Bean's old 77 Ford F-150. I used it as an excuse to visit my pal Rocky who lived in Omaha. On the way down I got a call from a guy I've done Kustom painting for named Art. He had another bike he wanted me to paint and he was actually in Omaha...
I got to Omaha and told Rocky I was gonna swing over and look at this motorcycle. He was like... ummmm... that's a bad part of town. I'm not sure you should go. I insisted... having done business with Art I felt I was in good hands. He made me drive his "Rocky good time van" which was basically an Astro Van with a V8 in it.
So I pulled up with this van... it had a lumpy cam and loud exhaust right outside of the Bar Art wanted to meet me at. The bar was private, owned by a biker gang called the Dirty Dozen. Once inside Art gave me a card that basically said I was his friend and anytime I wanted to come to the bar I could. It was kinda crazy... once inside every guy there was asking me about a paint job.
I had painted Arts first bike and it ended up in a Magazine, this second bike I looked at did too... Long story short we made a deal and I ended up flaming it in some tribal flames which were popular at the time.
On to get the lovers... I headed to Kearny and picked them up with my pickup. I have a picture somewhere from the ebay ad I'll post. The fenders were mint... the hood was mint... NO RUST. They had been sitting in a barn since 1961 when they were punched. They never made it back on the car. Not sure why... maybe they never paid their louver bill... or maybe they were louvered and just never sold?
These fenders had a strip of 9" down the side of each fender. I had never seen that before. The hood had four rows of 18 or so louvers. They looked great. I couldnt wait to get them on my shoebox ford at home. I have a picture of them mocked up on my chopped shoebox but I ran these on my business coupe for years... the best part was those fender louvers really worked. They vented a lot of extra heat.
Fast forward a few years and we had a devastating shop fire. The front clip burned... along with everything else.
I've always wanted to reproduce the whole front clip. So slow but sure I bought back tools. This summer I started to collect the stuff to make my own press. Around the same time, my buddy had one for sale and we ended up striking up a deal.
The problem was nobody made any dies that looked like the louvers I had in this old hood. So with the help of Sam Nelson from Cambridge, we went to work on designing a die that matched them.
This lead to our prototype Die...
These are the louvers it punches...
Then we decided to put some into production...
Three styles, the 3" dome, the Windfield style that's sort of like a clamshell and then the crescent moon.
So now I'm not only punching louvers but also creating dies to sell you guys. The first batch of dies are in heat treat right now and should be done the middle of February. Really excited to see how they turn out.
Now to reproduce that hood and fenders and re-create my old shoebox. I think business coupes are my all-time favorite. :-) I picked this up this winter. It was in long term storage and is really a nice solid 50 coupe.