Take a look at one of the most outstanding Deuces-make that one of the most outstanding street rods-of the year. Bob Cutler's elaborately modified, Jag V-12-powered roadster has been causing a commotion in this hobby since the beginning of the year, when Bob drove it (yes, drove it) into the 54th Annual Grand National Roadster Show.
Bob has dreamed of building a hot rod since his childhood days but says his dreams got sidetracked for many years. He honed his mechanical chops working on aircraft before landing a job at a Beverly Hills Jaguar dealership and eventually opening his own Jag repair business in Pasadena, California.
The first step towards getting involved in rodding took place in June 1991, when a couple of Bob's old high school buddies invited him to the L.A. Roadster Show in Pomona, California. Amid all those outstanding roadsters, the impulse hit. He had to have a Deuce. But Bob thinks big and knew he wanted something exceptional-something that combined white knuckle hot rod kicks with European touring car elegance. Being a Jaguar mechanic, and considering that Jaguar is owned by Ford, after all, Bob figured his best choice for a Ford-in-a-Ford mill was a Jag V-12. And his only choice for feeding that cat was Kinsler fuel injection.
With the project still in concept form, Bob decided to seek the help of a pro designer. He called the nearby Art Center College of Design and was put in touch with none other than Harry Bradley. Bradley's reputation is for creating beautiful hot rods, not congeniality, and Bob told us that Bradley explained to him that he had no idea what he was in for but begrudgingly agreed to listen to his ideas. Bradley provided the 1/5-scale drawing that served as the design for the unique roadster, in addition to advice throughout the project.
The evolution from list of ideas to finished rod took 10 years, and a lot of painstaking design and engineering work to make sure the car not only looked right but was mechanically right, as well. After winning the Outstanding Engine award at the GNRS, Bob fired up the prize-winning V-12 and drove the roadster out. We saw him again at the Goodguys Show in Del Mar, where the Deuce was a Street Rod d'Elegance finalist and a Boyd Coddington Pro's Pick winner. Bob's big prize is accomplishing all of his goals with this incredible Deuce. The plan could easily have veered in 100 wrong directions, but Bob scored a bull's-eye with his first shot.
'32 Ford Roadster
Drivetrain: A dozen injector stacks will get anyone's attention. Bob, a pro Jag mechanic, put together the trophy-winning EFI V-12. He uses a laptop to program the Kinsler fuel injection system, which features custom-built 3-inch runners in the manifold, as well as the nitrous oxide setup. The custom water pipes and headers were built by Rod Sexton. On the dyno, the 346ci engine makes 390 hp at 5,742 rpm, naturally aspirated. On the bottle, the numbers leap to 530 hp at 5,491 rpm. The transmission is a Jag TH400 automatic with an 1,800-rpm stall converter. Bob softened the clutch packs and added an Inland Empire aluminum driveshaft spinning 3.95:1 gears in a '93 Halibrand quick-change rearend.
Chassis: Bob gave us a head's up and let us shoot the chassis during the buildup. It's a piece of art. He and Lars Johasson handbuilt the frame from 1018 tubing and boxed rails. They pinched the rails in the front, built a C-notch into the rear, and added custom batwings and tubular K-members. The big V-12 required the rails to be extended 12 inches (wheelbase is 113 inches). Performance Machine six-piston disc brakes and Pro Shocks on custom mounts are used front and back. Additional suspension comes from front and rear four-bars and Panhard bars. The customized Magnum axle drops 5 inches and has been V'd and dropped in the center.
Wheels & Tires: Instead of going overboard with the rolling stock, Bob selected sandcast aluminum kidney bean rims from Phil Schmidt at PS Engineering, measuring 17x9.5 and 16x6. They look perfect. BFGoodrich Comp T/As are P275/60R17s and P215/60R16s.
Body: The truly unique body was completely coach-crafted based on clay models and plaster molds made by Cutler and Dave Crook. Butch at E.G. Brinza Studios handled all leadwork and dialed in the body, and C. Henry Wehr at Autosport Engineering did all metalwork, including the aluminum hood, headlights, and grille shell. First things to catch our eye were the headlights suspended from inverted wings. The 'glass rear quarter-panels from McQueen Prototype Design were flared and the wheel radius enlarged and restyled. The one-piece V'd windshield is supported by curved A-pillars hand-machined from brass. Dan Fink built the custom grille insert based on Harry Bradley's design.
Paint: Bob says he chose PPG Silver because it evokes purity and mechanism. He also wanted to emulate the classic look of pre-war touring cars like the Mercedes, Bentley, and Hispano-Suiza-a tall order for painter Dave Crook of San Dimas, who came through with flying colors.
Interior: The cockpit is as clean as the inside of a bubble. The leather upholstery covering handbuilt custom seats was designed by Bob's wife Sharon and applied by Little John's Interior Concepts of Fountain Valley, California. The dash panel done by Scott's Hammer Works is filled with custom painted Auto Meter gauges, with additional gauges in the brushed aluminum center console built by Dave Crook. The Boyd's brushed aluminum steering wheel was wrapped with gray leather. A six-disc CD player and sound system are heard but not seen.