Steve Young started building this hot rod when he was a kid-even before he was old enough to drive. At the same time he was gluing together 1:24-scale hot rods made out of plastic parts and airplane glue, he was building a fullsize traditionally dressed and flamed '32 Tudor with his imagination. Adulthood worked out well enough that Steve was able to indulge his interest in performance cars with a bunch of cool musclecars, Corvettes, and vintage race cars. Through it all, he continued to develop ideas for the hot rod he always wanted.
A few years ago, Steve grabbed the chance to purchase Tommy Otis' L.A. Highboy '32 roadster. The traditional black, flamed Deuce perfectly suited his taste, and the transaction led to a friendship that eventually resulted in the creation of the hot rod Steve had built over and over in his mind.
"Tommy and I sat down for lunch and started talking about building the car," Steve recalled. "I knew his eye, and his sense of period correctness. His idea of a period-correct hot rod and my own are very close. He was the perfect guy to be the project manager for this car." After illustrator Steve Stanford turned their ideas into a concept drawing, there was nothing left to do except find a '32 Tudor. Decades of planning were about to turn into a real live project.
They found the perfect raw material through the Hemmings website-an unchopped, full-fendered, original steel car begging to be rescued from an early '80s pink and turquoise paintjob. The Hemi and Muncie four-speed matched Steve's powerplant checklist. The only hitch was the car's Upstate New York location. Fortunately, Tommy's East Coast friend, Art Regan, was able to scout out the car.
The car went directly to Art's shop, Carland Auto Body in Danbury, Connecticut, where Art chopped the top 3 inches in front and 21/2 in the rear.
As soon as the sedan arrived in Los Angeles, it was turned over to Tri-C Engineering in Valencia, California, the project's new headquarters. Rick Cresse at Tri-C had worked with Tommy on the L.A. Highboy, which was credentials enough for Steve. Kiwi Connection provided the chassis for the sedan, and Ollie's Machine Works rebuilt the Hemi that came with the car.
Steve's vision called for making the sedan a genuine hot rod built to show-car standards. He also wanted the car to reflect the looks of an early '60s street/strip car, "a tip of my cap to the art, skill, and craftsmanship that existed back then," as he put it. That's why he used throttle rods and bellcranks instead of cables on the Strombergs, an original Joe Hunt Scintilla vertex magneto, King Bee headlights, Deist belts, and other equipment that would be perfectly right for the era. Even Albert Lara's upholstery work, Steve said, reminds him of the early interiors done by Eddie Martinez, one of L.A.'s best stitchers. The only exceptions were made for the sake of safety and reliability, such as the heavy-duty Speedway Engineering quick-change, 20-gallon fuel cell, and So-Cal Buick-drum front disc brakes.
Tommy laid the traditionally designed flames and finished with some period-style pinstriping. We know Tommy's 'striping hero is Tommy the Greek, but on this job, Steve said he followed Ed Roth's style of broader lines, including a tribute to Roth's work on the McMullen roadster. Tommy's brushwork ended up everywhere. We spotted it on the framehorns, rear axle, firewall, front brake backing plates, and in invisible places like the front spring ends and the front crossmember. Even the framerails-painted black with red along the boxing plates-were 'striped along the inside edges, where no one will ever see.
Since its successful debut at the '08 Grand National Roadster Show, the L.A. Sedan has been making the rounds at local events, with a brief stopover in the Petersen Automotive Museum. For all the car-show success he's had with the sedan, Steve hasn't lost his original vision. He didn't build the hot rod he always wanted only to stick it on a shelf with his childhood model kits. He promised that when he's done showing it off, he has some driving to do.