Andy Kassa 3-window coupe

TS3X65MPH

  • Hero Member
  • THANKS TO MY DAD & MOM,WIFE GLYNIS & SON STEVEN
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2016, 06:31:36 PM »
Andy Kassa Coupe.
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.

TS3X65MPH

  • Hero Member
  • THANKS TO MY DAD & MOM,WIFE GLYNIS & SON STEVEN
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2016, 06:32:14 PM »
Restoration
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.

TS3X65MPH

  • Hero Member
  • THANKS TO MY DAD & MOM,WIFE GLYNIS & SON STEVEN
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2016, 06:34:19 PM »
After the restoration
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.

TS3X65MPH

  • Hero Member
  • THANKS TO MY DAD & MOM,WIFE GLYNIS & SON STEVEN
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2016, 06:35:06 PM »
After the restoration
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.

TS3X65MPH

  • Hero Member
  • THANKS TO MY DAD & MOM,WIFE GLYNIS & SON STEVEN
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2016, 01:08:51 AM »
The 1932 Ford Kassa Coupe
Written by Scotty Lachenauer on November 12, 2014.
It made a lasting impression on Gary Mekita; and as fate would have it, the car would one day become a big part of his life.

Change. Gary Mekita was a highly impressionable pre-teen when he first spotted the outlandish ’32 Ford known as The Cyclops Deuce, a custom rod and highly seasoned veteran of the show car circuit. The brash, award-winning coupe was owned, designed, and built by local hot rodder Andy Kassa. Back in the day, the car was routinely moved out to the edge of the street in front of Andy’s filling station in Passaic, New Jersey, to command the attention of local commuters and passersby. As you could imagine, the beautiful custom creation was a traffic stopper on the busy urban thoroughfare.

Young Gary made sure to stop by Andy’s filling station each day to get a better look at the Deuce. With its blinding metallic paint, asymmetrical front nose, and chromed-to-the-gills flathead, the coupe was unlike anything Gary had ever seen. It made a lasting impression on the youngster; and as fate would have it, the car would one day become a big part of Gary’s life.

The ever-changing hot rod best known as the Kassa Coupe started as a completely stock ’32 three-window Andy purchased in 1948. In early 1953, he started to customize the Ford in earnest and was hitting the local car shows by summer. The full-fendered Ford was chopped 3 inches, and the roof was filled in with metal. Since he was a well-respected artisan with wood, Andy constructed a custom walnut dashboard that he filled with a slew of Stewart-Warner gauges.

A 268ci Mercury flathead replaced the stock mill and was lavishly ornamented in chrome. It was an all-out race motor—bored, stroked, and fitted with a Harmon-Collins Super H cam, JE pistons, and an H-C magneto. An Offenhauser intake topped the flathead, capped by a pair of Stromberg 97s with mini air cleaners. The block was painted pearl white to complement all the chrome, and custom headers led to full-length exhaust pipes that exited through a custom-made lower valence

Even though the coupe received accolades, Andy was relentless in his drive to make the ’32 not just a show winner, but also a showstopper. So the new year brought some changes: The fenders, bumpers, and continental kit were removed, and like many of the East Coast rods of the time, the body was deeply channeled by Andy to get it to sit down over the frame. When all was said and done, this process lowered the coupe a full 5 inches.

To get the body down even further, the frame was Z’d just in front of the rearend, a rare custom touch way back in the early ’50s. And with the floor now moved up into the interior, Andy had to make custom white vinyl bucket seats to fit in the smaller cockpit. To get through the gears, Andy hooked up a ’39 Ford trans, retrofitted with Zephyr gears. The suspension received a dose of brightwork, as everything that could be chromed on the ’32 was. The exterior then received a helping of Buick Matador Red lacquer on top of the super-straight sheetmetal. Andy’s coupe was now nicknamed the Ruby Rod, and what a jewel she was.

Later in 1954, the engine went through a cosmetic change that would give it its signature look. Andy replaced the dual-carb intake with a Weiand quad setup, complete with four Strombergs. He topped those carbs with plain-Jane air cleaners for a short time, then sourced a new setup featuring Continental Italian-type twin snorkel air cleaners, which were obtained from a speed shop in Long Island. These rare pieces really made the Ruby Rod’s flattie stand out from the crowd. It was also at this time that Andy replaced the smooth hubcaps with a set of Cadillac dishes and put a set of white bias-plies on every corner. For a finishing touch, Andy smoothed and chromed the grille shell, which was another game changer.

Andy showed the car in its blinding red paint for several years, as he was quite smitten with the hue. But in about 1958, he decided it was time for a change, choosing a shade of metallic brown as its next skin tone. Like most of its paintjobs, the ’32 was never stripped of its old coating. It was usually a scuff-and-shoot over the last paintjob to keep the turn-around time to a minimum. It was an interesting choice for a hue, especially for the early ’60s, when brighter shades ruled the shows. Another major visual mod at this time was the addition of chromed steel wheels, as Andy removed the hubcaps for the last time. He toured the car for a short period with this styling, under the name Kassa Combo.

The following year, Andy was once again ready for a change. He would stretch the limits with this turn-around, choosing a soft pink paint that coincidently matched the hue of the Thunderbird tow car he had recently bought. Now known as the Dreamboat, this iteration would only last for the 1959 show season.

In 1960, the coupe was torn down and scuffed for its next paint selection—a beautiful, deep metallic blue. Andy added a set of chrome five-spoke Astro wheels to replace the chrome steelies. These rims were shod with Dragmaster slicks out back. The restyling brought with it another moniker, the Jersey Jem. This color change must have agreed with Andy, as he mimicked the paint and wheel job on his T-bird tow car. Andy would regularly park both cars together on the show floor, becoming one of the first customizers to show a pair of matching rides on the show circuit.

But Andy didn’t stop there. New chromed custom headers and pipes were made for the Jem, the latter running down along the rockers. To add even more bling, caps were made for the front frame and were triple-chrome-plated to really set the coupe apart from the other show rods. The car would reach new heights these years, with Andy even winning a brand-new ’62 Ford 406 engine for garnering the highest points on the show circuit that year.

The biggest change, though, was yet to come. Andy had met customizing king George Barris several times over the years at the major car shows and became interested in Barris doing some work on the ’32. The coupe was sent to Barris Kustoms in California in 1964, where Barris did some interesting modifications, including recessing the taillights and then covering them with chrome mesh. The customizing master also frenched in the license plate mount.

But it was the asymmetric front grille Barris built that really got people talking. Supposedly designed to help Andy’s rod upstage Clarence Catallo’s famous ’32 Little Deuce Coupe of Beach Boys fame, the handformed shell housed a chrome grille and one vertically mounted headlight, along with a thick protruding lip around the perimeter. The shell had another purpose besides turning heads—it also kept the custom-made 6-inch-thick radiator out of sight.

To finish the radical styling, Barris painted the car in more than 35 coats of blended hues, consisting of violet, purple, and lilac. And because the T-bird had been repainted to match the Jersey Jem, Barris decided to add a few touches to the tow car as well, including a new mesh grille, asymmetric third headlight, and matching paint.

However, the paintjob for the newly renamed Cyclops Deuce was short lived. Due to the enormous amount of paint laid on the coupe, it never really did dry thoroughly for its trip home. A tarp had been laid over the coupe while being towed back to Jersey in the enclosed trailer. The high heat encountered on the way home “cooked” the paint and made it stick to the tarp. Upon its removal, the paint was fouled along the roofline. Not good. Instead of removing all of Barris’s lacquer, Andy two-toned the car, shooting the coupe from the beltline up with metallic silver. The new paintjob fixed the issues, while saving most of the Barris Kustom’s paint.


Andy was quite pleased with the new styling of the Cyclops. Wherever it went, it turned heads, received press, and picked up awards. The redesign was definitely cutting edge, and the public responded. However, after showing it for a while, Andy started to get irritated about how the whole judging process at shows was evolving. He soon found himself losing to cars that could not even run under their own power, and cars accessorized with non-working components. After Andy was beaten at a major show by a car with a phony supercharger, he brought the Cyclops home and retired it from the show circuit.

When Gary first saw the Cyclops in his early teens, it was still in reasonably good shape. Andy typically stored the rod at his house’s small garage in Passaic, just around the corner from his work. As Gary made his way out of high school and into the workforce a few years later, he opened a small service center not far from Kassa’s filling station. Gary had a lot of respect for the elder hot rodder and frequently pulled into Andy’s station to fill up and check out the coupe. The two became good friends over the years.

When Gary left the car industry to pursue a career in the restaurant business, Andy would often try to pull him back in, pointing to the unused bay at his filling station, telling Gary he was welcome to use it. A few months later, Gary took Andy up on his offer and opened a small repair facility at the station. It was then that Gary really got to know the inner workings of Andy: his drive, determination, and relentless resolve to have the best custom in the nation. And since Andy never had any kids of his own, Gary became the son Andy never had.

Gary soon started to bring up the fact that the Kassa Coupe needed to be driven again. Andy agreed, and so starting in 1986, little by little, work was done to bring the ’32 back to life. By this time, the car had not been seriously driven in more than 20 years, and time had eaten away at its former glory. Gary took the motor (which had earlier been torn down by a family member) into his shop and rebuilt it back to spec. Progress was made, and then the process of putting the coupe’s restoration back on track became mired down. Mainly, they didn’t have enough garage space to get the coupe stripped down and sorted out.

Fortunately, some of Gary’s friends in the Meadowlands Street Rod Club helped out, and his friend Ronnie Meola built a substantial garage space to house the project. With Andy’s health waning, the crew got the coupe into the space and stripped it to bare metal. Years and years of paint came off in large chips and thick chunks due to the scuff-and-shoot technique Andy used whenever he changed hues. Once the coupe was stripped, Gary asked Andy what color he wanted this time. Andy told him that “all true hot rods are red.” With that, the team picked out a deep red, very similar to the one the coupe wore as the Ruby Rod.

The asymmetric Barris nose was kept on the car, as it was a big part of the history and evolution of the coupe. None of the chrome work was touched, and for good reason, as Gary explains, “We would have gone broke if we re-chromed all the parts on this car… the whole undercarriage is chrome!” Luckily, even after being done 50 years before, most of the chrome was in usable shape and shined up nicely. Hot rod historian and good friend Bob Bracken did much of the bodywork and even sprayed the car its new Viper Red hue. After two years of working Friday nights on the coupe, there was a light at the end of this long tunnel. Once the car was returned to its former glory by Andy’s supporters at the club, the Kassa Coupe was ready to hit the streets and local car shows.

Fortunately, Andy got to see the coupe once again prowl the local byways of Passaic. More importantly, he himself had the chance to put the flathead through its paces, which made all those involved in the project elated beyond belief. But unfortunately, the euphoria was short lived. In 1998, just two years after finishing the coupe, Andy lost his battle with lung cancer. It was a disappointment to Gary that Andy didn’t live to see the coupe hit the lawn at Pebble Beach in 2001, which featured an invite-only hot rod coupe class. He also didn’t see it voted one of the top 75 ’32 Fords of all time at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona. Andy would have been proud of the accolades and praise for his coupe.

Now the coupe is Gary’s, and it couldn’t have gone to a better keeper. It is taken out regularly to local shows, where Andy’s handiwork can be enjoyed by his contemporaries as well as a new generation of rod builders. Interestingly enough, a few years ago Gary decided that the coupe should wear its original plated radiator grille, which was the way that Andy showed the coupe until 1964. It’s a more traditional look, and without a doubt, its classiest rendition yet.
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.

Tom

  • Administrator
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2016, 06:17:53 AM »
Thanks for the history!

TS3X65MPH

  • Hero Member
  • THANKS TO MY DAD & MOM,WIFE GLYNIS & SON STEVEN
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2016, 12:16:06 PM »
Thanks for the history!
Here's a few from the 75 yrs of the Deuce.
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.

jaded iconoclast

  • Hero Member
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #23 on: January 23, 2017, 08:56:10 PM »
I'm not 100%, but I don't think this is the Kassa car, note the chopped grill shell. I'm pretty sure this car was yellow and was found a few years back by a guy on the HAMB and re-worked to the point where it is unrecognizable. He posted a very similar photo of the car taken at the same time, but in colour. I might even have it saved, I will see if I can find it.

jaded iconoclast

  • Hero Member
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2017, 09:16:20 PM »
Actually the same photo. This is not the Kazza car, this car was totally redone by a guy on the HAMB.

TS3X65MPH

  • Hero Member
  • THANKS TO MY DAD & MOM,WIFE GLYNIS & SON STEVEN
Re: Andy Kassa 3-window coupe
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2017, 11:53:40 AM »
A few more.
You Aren't Living If Your Windshield Isn't Dirty.