Accurately recreating an early-'50s '32 Ford hot rod down to the tiniest detail is not only a monumental task, but also the greatest compliment to the pioneering rodders that made these cars a part of our collective deep thoughts. Kevin Simpson experienced early hot rods in the mid-'50s firsthand as a youngster through his older brothers and their friends as they gathered at the Simpson home with their roaring roadsters and cool coupes, and told exciting--and exaggerated--tales and half-truths.
Kevin kept those memories near and dear so that when the time finally came to start collecting the pieces to build one of those great hot rods from his youth, he would know exactly what he would need to track down. When an original body and frame in decent shape (and at a realistic price) could not be located, Kevin knew his best choice was a fresh Brookville Roadster unit and a set of American Stamping rails complemented with a host of the gennie parts.
Kevin kicked off the build by having Bakersfield builder Squeak Bell mount a trio of early crossmembers between the repro rails. A genuine 3-inch-dropped Mor-Drop axle with '40 Ford spindles and brakes is attached with an unsplit '32 wishbone in front, and a '40 pickup rear axle and torque tube were hung in the rear to get the frame up and rolling.
A traditional chassis called for traditional motivation, and a '48 Mercury mill dressed in Edmunds Custom goodies backed by a Joe Mac rebuilt '40 Ford pickup transmission fit the bill perfectly.
The new steel body was accented with a NOS grille shell, an unrestored original firewall and a 2-inch sliced windshield. A louver-punched Rootlieb four-piece hood is ran when the mood strikes. To take the open-air ride back to the time period Kevin remembered so fondly, a set of Guide headlights lead the way with a pair of '50 Pontiac taillights lighting up the rear.
Kevin took his trip into the past one step further into the future by including his son, Jason, in every step of the build. The passion rubbed off and Jason is pretty far along in creating his own time capsule in the form of a '60s-styled '32 Ford three-window coupe. Kevin and Jason Simpson are the perfect example of the highest form of hot rod flattery.
Kevin & Jason Simpson
'32 Ford Roadster
Just like the "good ol' days," Kevin purchased his 239ci '48 Mercury Flathead as a running stocker and left the internals stock, choosing to dress it up with a few speed-shop bolt-on goodies. On top of the "valve-in-block" mill is a pair of vintage Edmunds Custom aluminum heads and a matching two-carb intake running a pair of Stromberg 97 carbs. Spent gasses exit through a pair of Red's headers and Smitty mufflers. Behind the Flattie is a Joe Mac (Corona, California) rebuilt '40 Ford truck trans followed by a matching year differential.
Beginning with a pair of American Stamping rails, Squeak Bell (Bakersfield, California) added a trio of vintage Ford crossmembers (a Model A up front, a '32 in the middle, and a '40 bringing up the rear). An unsplit '32 wishbone holds a vintage Mor-Drop '34 I-beam axle in place up front, and a pair of '46 bones locates the buggy sprung '40 pickup rear. Doing the stopping on all four corners are '40 Ford brakes and Gabriel tube shocks even out the bumps in the road. A '50 Ford F-1 truck box handles the steering.
Wheels & Tires
Nothing sets the tone of an early hot rod better than the proper set of period rollers. To capture the postwar era Kevin used a set of 16x4.5 '47 Ford steelies mounted up with a set of 4.50 and 7.50 Firestone Deluxe Champions. Kevin diligently tracked down a set of still-in-the-wrapper '46 Mercury caps (which he had to tell the owner were going on a restored Merc after losing another set after the seller refused to sell to a rodder) and mated them with a set of '40 Ford trim rings. Trim rings are run on both inner and outer sides of the front wheels, a trick Kevin picked up from the Dick Flint Roadster.
Body & Paint
Nothing shiny to speak of, but plenty of neat stuff none the less. The Brookville Roadster body still wears much of the factory red oxide primer with the rest of the pieces coated to match. An NOS '32 shell rides up front and is flanked by a pair of Guide 682-C headlights. A Vintique fuel tank sits out back along with a pair of '50 Pontiac taillights. A 2-inch clipped windshield is complemented with an original Hot Rod magazine water transfer (received from Tom Medley himself).
The inside of Kevin's hot rod sticks to the necessities and stays clear of "foo-foo" creature comforts. Sitting on the red-leather-covered stock seat springs, you face the dash filled with Stewart Warner Wings and a '40 Ford Deluxe steering wheel on top of a '40 column. Something really special that can't be seen to the casual observer is a collection of rodding's greatest heroes' signatures inside the deck lid with names like Wally Parks and Tom Medley among them.