Exactly half a century ago, a pocket-sized publication appeared on newsstands featuring a striking '32 Ford roadster on its cover with the promise of in-depth coverage of the modified car scene inside. While the actual history of ROD & CUSTOM is thoroughly covered elsewhere in this issue, we'd like to briefly discuss a car that may seem like an ordinary Deuce by today's standards but was absolutely extraordinary in 1953.
When Chuck Price decided to build a hot rod much like the stripped-down speedsters he had seen cruising the highways and byways near his Southern California home, his goal was to "build a car better than all the others put together." After assembling a radical 309ci Mercury flathead that had been bored, stroked, ported, and relieved, he fortified his roadster with juice brakes, a '39 tranny and rearend, a custom interior, and retina-searing red paint. The final touch was to add big tires in back and little ones in front, a concept still relatively foreign in 1953. In fact, the idea was so strange that when the first R&C editors decided the striking Ford should grace their cover, they also commented, "In our opinion this has become more of a fad rather than being 100 percent practical. The larger rear wheels, theoretically, give the car more bite, while the smaller front ones supposedly aid the stability." Well, we editor types can't always be right.
Now fast-forward 50 years. The Chuck Price roadster never achieved the fame heaped upon other cover cars of the time, such as the Duane Spencer or Frank Mack roadsters, but its subtle beauty and "ready to run" stance influenced an entire generation of hot rodders. This includes our Ol' Dad, Gray Baskerville, whose daily-driven Deuce was a near carbon copy of Price's car. With that kind of history and lore mind, we contacted renowned rod builder Roy Brizio and asked if he was up to the job of recreating the historical red roadster. A few months later, a package showed up in the mail containing some concept drawings of the car, and we were floored by the images that danced before our eyes. Rather than simply cloning the Chuck Price roadster, Brizio came up with the concept of building a tribute to the first cover car that featured all the style of the original, with some modern amenities and contemporary touches melded in for good measure. The concept worked, and six short months later, the steed you see before you was born.
After the game plan was decided, Roy called Brookville Roadster and ordered a new steel body to set on one of his custom frames. Keeping with the traditional theme, SuperBell provided most of the pieces that make up the dropped-axle frontend, and Currie Enterprises was tapped for one of their bulletproof 9-inch rears. If the original car utilized a relatively weak '39 rearend, why would we need something as stout as a 9-inch, you ask? Because rather than stuffing a built flat motor between the fenders, Roy decided a little extra oomph might be nice, so he placed an order for one of Ford Racing's new 392-cube stroker crate motors, which serves up 430 hp on demand. Real rods have three pedals, so a T5 manual trans was bolted behind the muscular small-block.
Once the mechanicals were complete, a custom aluminum hood was built for the car, and the entire package was sprayed with a custom-mixed DuPont red enamel. Cream pinstripes were laid down, along with lettering commemorating this magazine's 50th Anniversary. Sid Chavers was called upon to construct one of his breathtaking interiors, and his work does not disappoint. Carmel-colored leather is wrapped around every conceivable seating surface, and for a finishing touch, Classic Gauges screened the R&C 50th Anniversary logo on a full array of custom instruments.