Grassroots rodders were more than just avid enthusiasts. Back in the late '60s and early '70s, there wasn't the vast number of aftermarket companies offering all the various bits and pieces you often needed to complete a project. Little by little, individuals went from making specialized parts for friends to forming businesses that did so, and thus developed the huge industry we have today. Without people like this, including Ron Francis, well, one could only imagine what the world would be like not having companies such as Wire Works, who make it possible for enthusiasts to complete their vehicles with much less effort than ever before.

Though Ron Francis' Wire Works has "only" been around since 1974, its founder is a lifelong hot rodder still finding time to devote to personal projects. Years ago, he turned out a stunning '40 Chevy convertible. As with any vehicle that gets driven, it began to show more obvious signs of wear and tear over time, and instead of completely rebuilding it, he and his wife, Connie, decided that something more along the lines of an SUV might better suit their family's needs-but they weren't considering any type of sport-utility you see advertised on TV.

What ultimately satisfied their utilitarian desire came in the form of a '59 Willys-a lifted 4x4 complete with a winch, clearance lights, and big ol' mudders. Not the typical type of vehicle a hot rodder would acquire-at least not one without the forethought to see beyond the Willys' four-wheeler characteristics. Ultimately, Ron would have the '59 shortened, lowered, and converted to two-wheel drive, all of which was done by Rhodes Custom Auto Works in Townsend, Delaware.

Four years after the transformation, the Willys is pretty much used on a daily basis-to the point that Ron logged over 5,000 miles on the odometer in the past five months alone. Connie came to enjoy the '59 so much that they ended up acquiring a '51 Willys truck for her, which witnesses a similar conversion, but it is still quite a bit higher off the ground than the wagon!