Longtime NorCal rodder and drag racer Rich Guasco has been doing things his way with cars for six decades, and the best part is that, while he has always done what he enjoys, he's also made rodding history at the same time. Rich didn't know that when he first put together his '29 roadster while still in junior high that it would eventually take home the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award in 1961, and also be the beginning of a very successful career in drag racing.
But it all almost came to a premature end during those early days when one speed run and a loose brake pedal made Rich's father demand that he cut the roadster up. What his father didn't know was that after Rich disassembled the '29, he hid all the parts around the family wrecking yard and reassembled the pieces later after the heat cooled off. The hot little Flathead-powered A on '32 'rails found its way from street races to the dragstrip, and Rich was hooked.
While the '29 evolved into a chromed and polished showpiece, Rich also assembled his own Top Fuel dragster. After the Model A took the AMBR title, his front-engine rail took the Most Beautiful Competition Car portion of the AMBR trophy in 1962, making him the only person to ever win both titles.
Even a tragic Top Fuel accident later that year could not stop Rich-as he recuperated in the hospital he designed his historic Pure Hell Fuel Altered, which he campaigned throughout the remainder of the '60s. After setting many records and winning many titles, Rich moved on to his next challenge in the wild world of body flopping Funny Cars. Rich campaigned his own racers under the Pure Hell banner and then moved on as the crew chief for the Blue Max team.
Eventually Rich slowed down (only a little), and after collecting and restoring a fleet of early V-8 Ford cars, he dusted off his '29 roadster and restored it for the 50th anniversary Oakland Roadster Show for a gathering of all past winners.
Since the restoration, Rich has made a number of cross-country treks in his reliable old roadster, but the burning desire to build fresh cars has never left him. In recent years he has put together a stunning '40 Ford coupe and built and raced a replica of his Pure Hell Altered, as well as restoring the original Pure Hell car he still owns. He even took it to the Goodwood Festival in England in 2004 and showed them all what a good ol' American burnout looks like.
After owning a handful of '32 Fords through the years, Rich decided it was time to build one exactly as he wanted for himself. It all got started when his old friend Rich Cave, from Elite Street Rods in Oklahoma City, came across a super clean five-window coupe. The car's sheetmetal was flawless, but the owner of the car really wanted a roadster. A deal was arranged where Rich would swap him a brand-new roadster body for the gennie tin and then the new project was underway.
He needed a way to roll the car around, so Rich ordered up the best of what Elite Street Rods offers in a brand-new chassis. Since he prefers his hot rods sans fenders, a 4-inch stretch was selected for the frame and all the stainless steel pieces, like hairpins and four-links, that Elite makes were added to the list.
In the last 50 years, Rich has built engines for just about every kind of race car you can imagine (most recently assembling and tuning the big Hemi for Goodguys Vice President Marc Meadors' historic "Speed Sport" dragster), but for this ride he picked up a very low-mileage '96 Corvette LT4 engine and mated it to a bullet-proof 4L60E automatic transmission with the intent to put some serious long distance cruising miles on the Bow Tie combo.