A little more than 3,000 Continental Mark IIs were built. As rare as they were on the road back in the day, they are even harder to find on the custom scene. Still, when Chris Ryan found a rusty ’56 for sale on Craigslist, the elegant lines shined with possibility.

“I wanted to pay tribute to the custom guys of the ‘50s, ‘60s and early ‘70s—George Barris, Gene Winfield, the Alexander Brothers,” Chris explains. He swapped the stock engine for a Ford Racing Coyote 5.0 and built a custom chassis. His team then modified every panel to make it sleeker and smoother, including the removal the trunk lid’s iconic spare-tire hump.

The Scarlet Lady is a perfect example of Chris’s style—adding modern touches while preserving time-honored design. “Most of the cars I build have white walls on them, which is rare these days,” he explains. “A car that could have been on the custom circuit in 1968, that’s the car I want to build.”

After graduating from Penn State, Chris worked as a mechanical engineer, but he couldn’t shake the car bug. Itching to get his hands dirty again, he opened Ryan’s Rod and Kustom in 2003. To prove his capabilities, Chris built a car for his wife. They showed off the vehicle at Goodguys events around the country and grew their business one order at a time. Today, they usually have 8-10 projects in the shop.

One of the most satisfying aspects of Chris’s business—besides working on hot rods all day!—is the connections he makes with his clients. Projects can take over a year to complete, and he spends hours working with his customers. Building a car is not just a transaction, it’s a relationship. After all, if you’re building someone’s dream car, you really have to get to know them.

You can find out more on Chris Ryan, where he draws his passion from, how he built his company and more in the most recent edition of the Repaint Reporter.

← Back to What's New