Talking to Rusty Baldwin while shooting photos of his flathead-powered '32 sedan, we said that as a young hot rodder with an owner-built, completely traditional hot rod, he'd fit right in with a lot of the rodders in Southern California. That's not quite how it is in central Missouri, he told us. A lot of his gearhead pals in the Show Me State don't understand why he'd build an old antique like this instead of something cool-you know, like a Camaro.
If this was 50 years ago, Rusty's '32 would fit in a little better. In fact, if this was 50 years ago, there's a good chance he would own, or at least know about, this exact same Deuce, which was first hot rodded during that period. That's right, this is another one of those "built in the '50s and hidden in a shed" rods that lucky people still keep finding. This one re-emerged from a 45-year hibernation in the spring of 2002. Rusty heard about it during that summer and traded his '47 Ford sedan delivery (betcha his Camaro friends loved that one too) to the guy who found the all-steel, all-real sedan.
Despite a lot of poor engineering by the original owner (body welded to the butchered-up frame, bottomed-out suspension, leaky seals) and many missing parts, the steel body showed no rust and only a handful of dents. The first job was to replace all the missing parts. Rusty's friend Don Weber donated a lot. Anything else that couldn't be found at swap meets or through the Internet was handmade. Rusty is pretty proud that, which the exception of a few pieces, almost nothing on the car dates from later than 1953.
Once all the parts were assembled, the sedan still needed a complete rebuild. Rusty went through the entire car, cleaning up the channel job, performing some minor sheetmetal straightening, building the flathead motor, redoing the chassis, and shooting the flat-black finish. The six-month buildup was finished in the spring of 2003, and the car made its debut at the NSRA Oklahoma City show. We took these photos in Springfield, Missouri, a few weeks later.
Last time we talked to Rusty, he was busy building traditional-style rods for some of the local guys. He also has a few personal projects underway, including a '53 F-100 pickup, a '56 F-100 panel truck, and a chopped '46 Anglia that was a well-known race car before it disappeared for 20 years (that's right-another one of those stories). Of course, building new projects means cutting loose the old ones. The sedan is now under new ownership, but it's in good hands and is still in the area. Meanwhile, Rusty's working hard to put more traditional rods on the streets of central Missouri.
Rusty BaldwinJefferson CityMissouri'32 Ford Sedan
Drivetrain: A 239ci '53 Ford flathead keeps the sedan in the pre-small-block era. Rusty added milled Fenton 8BA heads with relieved exhaust ports, an Isky cam, and Johnson hollow adjustable lifters. An Eddie Meyer high-rise intake from Hot Rod Carburetion is topped with a pair of Stromberg 97s with K&N chrome bell air filters. Other components include owner-built headers, an aluminum gear drive, and a six-blade fan from a '50 Ford cabover pickup. The transmission is a rebuilt '39 Ford Top Loader.
Chassis: Rusty reworked the chassis, originally built 50 years ago by the first guy to hot rod the car. They're the original rails, boxed and C-notched to clear the drilled '46 Ford front axle, then painted with gloss black urethane. An old dropped axle serves as the spreader bar. He added custom springs, early hairpins, and '50 F-1 pickup brakes on '46 Ford spindles. An owner-built steering column ends at the '50 Ford F-1 box. In back, Rusty used brakes, springs, and a rearend (with 3.40 Getz gears) from a '40 Ford, pulling two leafs from the springs. Front and rear, the sedan rides on aftermarket tube shocks.
Wheels & Tires: "I have to watch out for rainy days. It gets a little hairy on wet pavement with slicks." Yeah, we bet it does. Even so, you've got to love the looks of the big 8.20x15 Mickey Thompson whitewall slicks, with BFG 5.00x15s in front. Rusty built the 15x8 and 15x5 spoked steelies, painted lime green and accented with '42 Ford caps and rings.
Body & Paint: The original body was in great shape right out of the shed and needed only minor sheetmetal work by Rusty. It had been channeled 4 inches back in the early '50s, but not too well. Rusty improved that job a bit, installed some wood and a new soft top from Juliano's, and installed all new glass. Four inches was pulled from the stock firewall to open up the engine compartment. The flat black urethane, shot by Rusty, is military surplus camouflage paint. M.K. John in Montgomery City, Missouri, did a great job applying all that pinstriping.
Interior: Auto Meter instruments (with the stock speedo) were added to the '32 dash, with Rusty handling the wiring chore. He built custom seat frames, which got sprung, stuffed, and wrapped in tan vinyl and cloth by Jim Nichols at Nick's Upholstery in Jefferson City. Rusty built and installed door panels and kick panels, threw down some rubber floormats, and modified a '39 Ford banjo steering wheel. A fancy sound system, air conditioning, and power controls-you won't find them on this car.