Surviving Nine Lives - Li'l Coffin
The original Li'l Coffin became well known among the American public when Monogram showed it at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City, along with the model kit debut, but its story actually goes back to 1954.
Dave Stuckey of Wichita, Kansas, bought a 1932 Ford Tudor sedan for $50 dollars from a used car lot. At the time he was still in high school. Though in great shape, according to Dave's own story, he began to tear it down the first night he owned it in preparation for a severe nine-inch channelling. Over the next several years, he continued to customize the sedan and installed a number of different engines between its front fenders, and while the sedan appeared on the cover and in the pages of the November 1960 issue of Car Craft, his work wasn't finished.
After working for Darryl Starbird during the 1950s, Dave opened his own shop in 1960 and set out to rework the roof into a cantilevered design. He sectioning the body four inches, and installed a handshaped grille similar to the Ala Kart, fronted by a custom tubular bumper with endcaps patterned off an Edsel's grille shell. Not long after that, he ditched that grille and bumper setup for the one that would soon become familiar to model-builders - a low, horizontal grille that looked more like a Hanna-Barbera mouth.
Before he could finish the sedan - which by this time had picked up the name Li'l Coffin - Stuckey sold it to Larry Farber, who then took it on the show circuit tour, which included a stop at the 1962 Oakland Roadster Show. Monogram President Jack Besser, after seeing the Li'l Coffin at that show, decided that the company needed to offer a kit version of it and so set about not only reproducing it in resin sprue form, but also buying the actual car for promotional use. After Monogram was finished with it, the Li'l Coffin ended up in the hands of Darryl Starbird, who restyled it first into a sedan delivery, then a phaeton, then later as a 1990s-style street rod before restoring it to its 1964 Li'l Coffin configuration in 2009.