(Words and photos by Doug Gregory) – But there’s more…. There was no way to contain our visit to Cornfield Customs into just one article. Even though they are still getting things sorted, putting things up, and hanging the drapes we got to see so much stuff and we wanted to ensure we brought you all we could. Rest-assured we will return and see what is new in the shop to keep you informed.
Pictured first is where the real metal-shaping magic happens. The English wheel, power hammer, planishing hammer, and bead roller are at the heart of this space. Covering the walls are examples of work, diagrams, photos, dies, patterns, and more. These tools and the skill to operate them to their potential is what I think of as the ‘art’ of the craft. These pieces and more are at the core of the classes Mike and fellow Baileigh instructor, Kyle Yocum (owner of Yokum’s Signature Hot Rods in Suffolk, VA), teach at classes held at each others’ shops. The next class is being held at Cornfield Customs on July 30th and 31st.
We met Mr. Wagner last year through a mutual friend, Ryan Pope. For those that pay attention to Bangshift you might remember Ryan’s ‘Big Iron’ ’56 Chevy Gasser from a feature and his roadster pickup that we also wrote up. Ryan has worked with Mike for at least two years and has been employed there full-time for the last year. His RPU was built totally in-house at Cornfield. The tub is a stretched Brookville piece and the fenders are pure Henry. The rest is all fabbed with most of it being made from aluminum. The grille shell, hood, aprons, and the whole bed are aluminum. Makes for a light and unique ride displaying the talents and creativity of Mike and Ryan. If you are considering having some metal work done you might want to check these guys out. They live, eat, sleep, and breathe hot rods. You can check them out at cornfield-customs.com, facebook, or instagram Call the shop (513-575-4FAB), cell (513-545-2910), or go by and check it out at 5907 Deerfield Rd in Milford, OH (barely East of Cincinnati).
If you go you will get to see some incredible stuff and some of that is sitting in the showroom. There are gas pumps, old metal-flake helmets, iconic speed parts, some front-engine dragsters, and the War Wagon Vega show car. Bangshift ran a story on an advertisement for this thing some time ago and Mike picked it up from someone else since. The car is a time-capsule dating back to its build in 1971. The chassis appears to be from an early funny car that has been altered to fit the Vega. You’d think the engine for a show car would be mild or possibly not run at all. You’d be wrong. This is a snotty little 12:1 compression 327 with an Isky reverse-rotation cam and a magneto. It runs on about 16lbs of Isky blower boost pushing alcohol and air from the Enderle bug-catcher and pump. Backing that up is a full-race TH400 with an early Lakewood blanket. The rear is more top-end hardware in the form of a magnesium quick-change unit from Halibrand. The underside of the car is covered with engine-turned stainless steel panels. Mike ended up going through the motor because it hadn’t been ran in many, many years. What he found was mud inside and corrosion under the car suggests it was in a flood at some point during its hiatus from public view. The wheels are Cragar Super Tricks with Blue Streak tires. There are places the paint is cracking, but for being 45-years-old I’d say it looks pretty good. The interior has some fine stitching and overall looks pretty good. With the engine being located by the builders to such a low height there is no way you could race this thing. Also the seating position would make it near impossible to work the throttle next the right kick- panel and the brake by the left one. My ten-year-old son fit in it pretty good, but that’s about it. Mike is planning to fab a hand throttle so the car can be used to cackle at some events. It does have a distinctive note. We can question the styling and design choices, but this thing is real-deal gold and kudos to Mike for taking up the task of preserving it and making her run again (video- https://youtu.be/SVGDn2thclE?list=PLub_Ky_aqWZgrsuvl28Ta7NlMmPTtai2b). The showroom was still in a state of heavy remodel when we visited so Mike was gracious enough to shoot me a couple pictures with the floor done and some other essentials in place.
Mike has a serious work ethic driving him and the desire to do the best possible job on everything he touches and that includes the stuff people will never see. I have neglected to mention Mike’s major partner and supporter in the massive undertaking that is Cornfield Customs Ltd., his wife Jamie. Despite having a full-time job of her own she comes to the shop to help, drums up business, and lends a hand wherever. Good stuff there.
I had all my boys with me for the shop tour and we thank Mike and Jamie for giving us the run of the place and firing up the War Wagon for us. It was a great time and we’re ready to visit them again.
Enjoy the photos.