1935 Dodge Custom Shining Up the Suede Palace

2014 Grand National Roadster Show – Suede Palace Custom


The Grand National Roadster Show, now in its 65th year, has a different meaning to different people.


You’ve got the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster fans who can’t wait to see what the biggest imaginations, and yes, the biggest pocketbooks can build… but there are some who care more about YOU, the builder, what you and your pals have done to your own car , and when they’ll see you burning up the streets with it! That’s the key to success in the Suede Palace.


Fresno’s Robert Collins is no stranger to building street worthy art. That’s really the best description for the steeds he has put on the road in his lifetime including this ultra gorgeous ’35 Dodge DU Coupe which languished in the back of the former owner’s shop until Robert showed one day and took pity on the massive metal.


1935 Dodge Custom, 2014 Suede Palace, Suede Palace Customs


“I’d been watching for a real tail-dragger,” he explained, “and this one fit the bill perfectly. I just loved the lines and decided this was going to be just what I needed.” Robert made the deal, loaded the coupe up and hauled it home where for two years it began the transformation from backroom relic to custom beauty.



Dodge unveiled the vehicle late in the 1935 model year, in hopes that the DU, equipped with a rumble seat, would appeal to the rich folks of the era to buy it for their college-bound kids. The scarcity of 1935 DU coupes today makes it hard to assess whether this strategy worked or not – total two-seat coupe production for 1935 was 17,800, and it sold for $645.00. (Special thanks to Second Chance Garage for this tidbit of history!)


1935 Dodge Custom, 2014 Suede Palace, Suede Palace Customs


The owner of the ’35 tossed in a 1988 Dodge Diplomat Fresno police car as part of the deal and Robert went to work swapping the entire Diplomat drivetrain into the coupe. “The guy planned to use the police cruiser so I figured I’d go ahead and do it,” Robert said. “It has the Chrysler 318 engine with 360 heads and the “bullet proof” tranny which suits me just fine.” Robert says the coupe runs down the road perfectly with it’s Mustang II front, 2″ drop spindles and the “bagged” rear end. “I didn’t even open up the motor,” he said. “It runs just great and eventually I may pull everything to freshen it up.”


1935 Dodge Custom, car club, Suede Palace Customs


This is an honest tail-dragger that sports a crispy clean black exterior and custom tuck and roll, red and white interior all with a classic custom vibe that just draws you in when you see it sitting amidst all the glitz and glitter of the neighboring customs. The 5″ top chop seems to suit the car and you have to wonder if the original designers ever imagined this coupe in this sort of configuration.



“I’ve always liked the early 30s Zephyrs,” said Robert. “But who can afford one of those? So this is my Zephyr.” According to the dictionary, Zephyr means light wind. Yup…Robert’s Dodge Coupe is one fine Zephyr!


1935 Dodge Custom, ram hood ornament Suede Palace Customs


1935 Dodge Custom, 2014 Suede Palace, Suede Palace Customs, custom interior


1935 Dodge Custom, 2014 Suede Palace, Suede Palace Customs


Robert went so far as to take the original speedometer (which is giant!) and refinish it to match the AutoMeter gauges.
1935 Dodge Custom, 2014 Suede Palace, Suede Palace Customs


1935 Dodge Custom, 2014 Suede Palace, Suede Palace Customs, great hood ornaments

Robert said the original hood ornament had been wrapped in paper and stashed away by a previous owner, which probably saved it from ultimate destruction. Even the super detailed horns on the Ram are intact and he plans to leave the ornament just the way he found it.


For more from the Grand National Roadster Show, find the MyRideisMe.com GNRS pictures and stories here.

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