Troy Ladd's Respect Tradition Deuce roadster will most likely be familiar to regular R&C readers, as many of you will have followed its Brookville body sectioning and build-up over the past two years, culminating in its appearance at this year's Grand National Roadster Show as an AMBR contender. Its story of an average guy competing in a decidedly non-average arena has already been documented, along with much of the radical bodywork. That doesn't leave much to say, which should make this the shortest feature in R&C for some while!
But, truth be told, there's so much more to say about this particular '32. It never started out with the intention of being in AMBR competition, but rather as a vehicle to showcase the talents of Troy and his crew at Hollywood Hot Rods. With the "Rides" TV show under his belt, the Big Sister and Little Sister '32s finished and attracting increasing interest in his business, Troy saw the opportunity to further increase awareness of Hollywood Hot Rods by building a high-end rod, but one that built upon his personal interest in traditional rods.
As Troy told us, "Both the Pinkee's-built Royce Glader roadster pickup and Roger Ritzow's Trepanier-fabbed '32 were big influences. They had an impact on the industry because you think they're traditional, but they're not traditional at all. And I wanted to push that direction, with traditional styling, aesthetics, and creativity, but with modern variations where you're not strangled by the rules of how things were built in 1950. We don't have to follow the rules. We can do whatever we want. I'm already pushing that further with our next projects in the shop."
This roadster was actually started three years ago, but when the decision was made to enter it in competition, it "got out of control and turned into a monstrosity of a project!" As Troy put it, "I don't have the money for things I can't control, like paint, upholstery, and chrome. The creative side-the machine work and the metal shaping-we do at the shop, and it's just time. I ended up selling cars to finish this, plus borrowing money. I sold an entire car for a paint job! But I still spent a fraction of what we were competing against in AMBR."
It's a good thing, then, that Troy has the total backing of long-term girlfriend and ace parts procurer Davida.
"Another thing I wanted to do at the Roadster Show was to stir it up and put a traditional car in there. I was hesitant, as I'm a newcomer trying to build a name and I didn't want to screw up, but everyone I spoke to was excited. Lots of people said there should be traditional cars at the show and that I had to do it. Maybe I wouldn't win, but I had to do it. And the car got the attention, just like the Pinkee's truck did, and that was what I was after for the shop."
Troy has been quoted as saying that he and his crew-Garret Wilson, Troy Morris, and Chris-worked very hard to not add unnecessary parts, but it's the small details that make this roadster what it is. Every single part is modified or handmade. That's how high the bar has been raised for competition at the GNRS level. It's important to have a cohesive theme, such as the identical radii used for the detailing on the frame-horns, door hinge moldings, and taillights, as well as on the hairpin and shock bracketry under the car.
It can get very complicated making a car look simple. For example, there are very few mechanical parts showing on the underside. Two six-volt batteries are hidden in sections behind the seats, and to keep the undercarriage symmetrical and uncluttered, all the wiring, as well as the trans cooler lines and fuel lines, run up through these sections, then on to their destinations through the inner side panels in the trunk. Even the brake lines take tortuous routes through the body. The trans cooler is mounted behind the rear axle, above a vented panel, and accessed through the trunk floor, completely hidden from view, along with the fuel pump. Pretty much all you'll see if you get down under the car are the driveshaft, exhausts (and even they are mainly hidden behind die-stamped semi-bellypans), and three identical stainless lines running down each side of the floorpan. To maintain the symmetry, the brake master cylinder lives up under the cowl, thanks to modified ABS Power Brakes components.
Those 16-inch '34 Dodge artillery wheels look great, don't they? Certainly a step past the painted and trim ring-equipped steels Troy originally intended to run, yet there's a lot more to them than meets the eye. Apart from the wider rim welded to the Dodge centers on the rear, Wheelsmith in Santa Ana, California, modified all four by cutting out the sections where the caps mount and replacing them with sections from Chevy Rallye wheels so Troy could run smooth caps instead of the Dodge-lettered versions. That's an insane amount of work for a small detail, but again, necessary for a car of this caliber.
Obviously one of the most visually striking parts of the roadster is the 392ci Hemi parked in front of the firewall, its impact helped by those angled injector stacks. Troy very much wanted to use the vintage cross-ram Hilborn fuel injection, but wanted modern EFI, so set about converting it, hiding all the necessary electronics under a false aluminum valley cover, and fitting all new butterflies. The motor can now be set up and tuned using a laptop that plugs in under the dash, and yes, it does run, and run well-I've witnessed it.
There's more tradition with a twist in the ignition system too. Troy seems to have a thing for rare Spalding Flamethrower distributors, with a few in his collection, and has converted this one to electronic operation controlled by the ECU. Not wanting to make life easy for himself, the roadster runs twin coils, and yes, both are operational, thanks to modern four-cylinder Volkswagen electronics doubled up inside the Flamethrower. Some trial and error saw a few burned-out components, but it's all working just fine now.
The race-inspired look lent by the injected Hemi, which itself was once slated to bolt between the 'rails of the Rat Trap Fuel Altered in the '60s, is echoed in the interior, with much of the tubing left on show above the upholstered panels, ably stitched by Mark Lopez of Elegance Auto Interiors. The '58 Volvo seatbelts were an inspired choice; the large chromed ring they connect to on the center "console" is a neat touch. There's plenty more chrome in evidence on the cool hand-fabbed pedals (with one-off rubber Hollywood Hot Rods logo embedded in the brake pedal pad!) and the '37 Chevy brake handle that was converted to actuate a Gennie shifter mechanism on the 200-R4.
Probably the biggest surprise about this '32 is that Troy is still in his mid-thirties, and with no obvious hot rodding in his blood (his father was involved with VWs, but this is R&C, so we'll leave that there) it has been his dogged determination to learn and improve his craft that got him to where he is. From street-racing Mustangs in the '80s to evolving an ex-dirt-track racing '36 five-window from a 283 small-block-equipped daily into a dual-quad-fed 400ci street rod, learning as he went, through a '34 Chevy coupe that he chopped in the parking lot of his apartment complex, he now owns a hot rod shop (www.hollywoodhotrods.com) with some very cool projects underway, and the desire to tackle more projects in a similar vein to this one. He's learned well, and while he respects hot rodding traditions enough to use the phrase as his car's moniker, he isn't constrained by them. And that's a good thing if this '32 is anything to go by.