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The Kolmos Phaeton: Profile of a Hot Rod


Bob Kolmos had the Phaeton built in 1985. See more hot rod pictures.
Publications International, Ltd.

Although the Kolmos Phaeton hot rod was built for Chino, California's Bob Kolmos in 1985, the idea started years earlier when he and John Buttera (who grew up together in Kenosha, Wisconsin) attended the 1976 Street Rod Nationals. Kolmos reflected: "I had a '34 Tudor sedan that I just sold, and Buttera suggested, 'Why don't you do a highboy tub?'"

Kolmos didn't want a four-door rod, so Buttera recommended using a roadster cowl with a Tudor sedan body minus the roof. Kolmos liked the idea, but when he couldn't find a sedan body for a reasonable price, he opted for a fiberglass Deuce roadster body.

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Kolmos ­wanted Buttera to build the car, but by the time he had gathered the parts to build the roadster, Buttera was too busy building Indy cars. So, he referred Kolmos to an up-and-coming rod builder named Boyd Coddington.

Coddington liked the original concept and took it upon himself to make it happen. He found a steel Tudor sedan body, swapped it for the fiberglass roadster body, and had Thom Taylor sketch his vision for a body style Ford had never offered.

Coddington and his crew extensively modified the sedan body, cutting new, roadster-style doors. To achieve what has become Coddington's signature smooth, simple look, Scott Knight fabricated a three-piece aluminum hood, a rear rolled pan, a full bellypan, a bowed aluminum top, and the entire rear body panel.

Coddington mounted the new body on a set of aftermarket frame rails that he pinched in front. Buttera lent his expertise by fabricating an aluminum independent front suspension much like he had for his '26 T sedan. A Halibrand quick-change with coil-over shocks was installed out back.

Ronnie Patitucci installed three Weber two-barrel carbs into the Phaeton's engine.
Ronnie Patitucci installed three Weber two-barrel carbs into the Phaeton's engine.
Publications International, Ltd.

Wisely, Kolmos chose a reliable driveline, a Chevy 350-cid V-8 hooked to a Turbo 350 automatic transmission. Ronnie Patitucci built the engine, installing three Weber two-barrel carbs. Kolmos exchanged the Webers for a single four-barrel a few years later because the three twos always ran rich.

The interior of the Kolmos Phaeton was finished with a Carrera steering wheel.
The interior of the Kolmos Phaeton was finished with a Carrera steering wheel.

Like any Coddington creation, the interior is a work of art. Al Cooper applied butterscotch-colored vinyl and Herculon cloth to a pair of front buckets and a rear seat he made himself. He also covered the aluminum lift-off top in a matching shade of Mercedes-Benz fabric.

Inside, Coddington's crew added billet gas and brake pedals, an aluminum dash insert by "Fat" Jack Robinson, VDO gauges, and a Carrera steering wheel.

Any good rod needs cool wheels and smooth paint. Kolmos chose a bright-yellow Ford commercial-vehicle color for the body and Coddington machined a set of one-off wheels. Simple, yet tasteful and aggressive in stance and performance, Kolmos' phantom Phaeton still looks great today, more than 50,000 miles later.

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