I have been involved in street rods since the mid-'70s. At that time, I just wanted to have something neat to drive on nice days. This '32 project all started when I met Larry Marion in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the Nationals. He came up to me and asked if I would be interested in trading my '47 Ford coupe for a basket case '32 three-window.
We talked and made arrangements for me to go up to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to look at the coupe. Two weeks later, my wife and I went there, inspected the coupe, and agreed to the trade. It had been an old hot rod and was in better-than-average condition. Larry delivered the parts to my house in Springboro, Ohio, and took the '47 away. The reason I traded at the time was that my son and daughter played sports and took part in other school activities, and my wife and I wanted to be involved with everything. I thought my time for hot rodding would be limited, and I figured the three-window would be a good investment for the long haul-and I think it was.
The coupe pretty much sat untouched for the next 15 years until I retired from GM in October 1999. I started working on it, along with a couple of good friends, Bob Wellbaum and Tom Lishke, who were also recent GM retirees. We started with the frame and continued until the project was finished in July 2006.
The Son's Tudor
My parents have been involved with street rods since before I was born. We spent most of our vacations going to national street rod events all over the U.S. My dad found this 1932 Tudor during one of those trips to Louisville for the NSRA Nationals in 2005. At the time, I had a '31 Ford coupe but had always wanted a '32 Tudor. The car was from Colorado and was in really good condition. Everything was stock except for a '49 Ford Flathead.
We bought the '32 and made arrangements for the car to be delivered. Almost immediately after getting it home, we installed a Model A front crossmember, split the stock wishbones, and replaced the stock axle with a 4-inch dropped Super Bell I-beam that we narrowed 2 inches, drilled, and filled the ends. I replaced the stock heads with aluminum Edelbrock heads, replaced the stock manifold with a rare Almquist two-deuce intake, and my grandfather helped me rebuild the two 97 Stromberg carburetors. I then added two Edmunds air cleaners.
My father and I made two 3 1/2-inch-long shackles to lower the rear end, and I put four Coker tires on Kelsey-Hayes 17-inch wire wheels. We installed an Auburn-style gauge panel and lengthened the dashboard 2 inches. We finished it in time to go to the Detroit Autorama in January 2006.
Working on the car with my dad and our friend, Bob Wellbaum, made the build memorable, but hearing old dirt-track stories from my grandfather when he was helping me with the Flathead is something I'll always remember.
We're not done with the Tudor yet; I am planning to do it over again this winter by putting in an early Chevy small-block with a Muncie four-speed and Vega steering. We're also planning to take off the body, box the 'rails, put in new crossmembers, redo the interior, and paint the frame and body.