In 2001, Greg McComas was poking around on eBay, looking for vintage parts for a project he wanted to build-a Bonneville-style '32 coupe, channeled with a track-nose.
He found a track-nose, complete with grille, hood, and side panels with hand-punched louvers, but his bid was too low and the assembly ended up in Maine. Greg e-mailed the buyer to express his interest in case he ever decided to sell it. A year later, he was contacted; plans had changed and the nose was for sale. Next stop was Greg's garage in Loveland, Colorado.
After a year of head-scratching, Greg concluded that the coupe and the nose weren't a match, and the assembly was back on eBay. Responses started filling Greg's e-mail inbox, including one from Rick Rennebohm from Washington: "I bought this car from Keith Treece in the Sixties and it has not seen daylight for many years. If you want information and the hot rod history, you can call me." Instead of selling the track-nose, Greg bought the car, and so began the restoration of the survivor you're looking at here.
When the roadster was originally hot rodded in California in 1948, it was a channeled, open-wheel car, and was already sporting the aluminum track-nose, along with a souped-up Flathead and hand-painted flames.
In 1956, Jerry Sprague bought the roadster. He and fellow members of the Grinders car club in Seattle bobbed the frame horns, fabbed a custom grille for the track-nose, and painted the car light blue.
A year later, fellow Grinder Keith Treece bought the roadster and gave it a complete makeover. The Flattie was swapped for a '55 265ci OHV V-8, bored, balanced, and rebuilt using '58 Corvette FI ported heads, a Duntov solid lifter cam, and a polished Weiand intake with four 94 carbs. Keith made the body mods in his driveway, adding a polished aluminum firewall and floorboards, bobbed fenders, handbuilt running boards, and Nerf bars. The interior modifications (described below) were created during this same period. All this, plus the eye-popping '59 Buick Lido Lavender paint, caught the attention of several magazines, including Hot Rod in 1961 and Car Craft in 1965.
Rick Rennebohm was the next owner and redid the whole thing to fit the trends of the late Sixties and early Seventies. In addition to replacing the nose and Nerf bars with a modified '32 grille shell and dropped headlight bar, he added five-spoke Americans, a tunnel ram with dual four-barrels, and a 14-inch Cal Custom steering wheel-and covered the white upholstery with black Mar-Hyde dye. The Lido Lavender was updated to candy apple burgundy, with black fenders.
In 1974, Rick put the roadster in storage, where it stayed until he contacted Greg. Luckily, he'd kept most of the parts he'd removed. The exception was the track-nose assembly, which bounced around West Coast swap meets before ending up on eBay in 2001, where Greg found it.
Once Greg owned both the nose assembly and the car, he knew that such a complete and original hot rod deserved to be restored back to its magazine-feature condition. Careful attention to period correctness was foremost during the restoration, and prior owners provided memories, photos, and technical tips. Approximately 98 percent of the roadster's original hot rod parts were recovered, rebuilt, refinished, rechromed, and reused for this restoration. "In a strange way, I feel the car and its parts came to me seeking restoration," Greg told us.
The buildup took two years, but the project-including research and locating the original parts-took six. Gary Vahling and his crew at Rocky Mountain Street Rods in Arvada, Colorado, assisted with the restoration. At home, Greg got help from his wife Anita, son Gunnar, and daughter Cayley.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
'32 Ford Roadster
The original '32 frame has been reinforced with a tubular K-member. The suspension is simple traditional hot rod stuff, including the 4-inch dropped solid axle (possibly a vintage Dago axle) with '40 Ford spindles and brakes, split '36 wishbones, and stock spring and shocks in front. At the other end, a rear crossmember was added to fit the Model A buggy spring. The '39 rear hangs on shortened ladder bars with tubular shocks. Brakes and axles are stock.
Fifty years ago, the engine compartment was modernized with a '55 Chevy 265 overhead valve V-8, bored to 283ci. Greg had the drivetrain completely rebuilt, but maintained the original specs. The small-block was machined at the Block Shop in Denver and assembled by Lynn Newkirk in Arvada, Colorado. The '58 Corvette heads run early staggered bolt valve covers. Four Holley 94 carbs topped with helmet-style air cleaners feed a polished Weiand WC4D manifold. Josh Bjorgo at Rocky Mountain Street Rods bent the exhaust pipes, feeding exhaust from the '58 Chevy ram's-horn manifolds to Smitty mufflers. A chrome generator, polished fuel lines, chrome brackets, and a polished aluminum firewall dress things up. Ted Bowen from Denver assembled the '39 Ford three-speed, matched to a stock clutch and shifter. A shortened '48 Ford driveshaft spins the 4.11 gears in the '39 Ford rearend.
Wheels & Tires
When Hot Rod photographed the roadster for its February 1961 issue, Keith Treece had already added these custom hubcaps to the Ford wheels. These '56 Ford pickup wheels measure 15x6, roll on 5.90x15 and 7.60x15 BFGoodrich Silvertone bias-ply whitewalls and look just like the rolling stock of the early Sixties.
Body & Paint
The hand-formed aluminum track-nose that started it all, as well as the hood top and louvered sides, was reportedly built by Art Ingalls of Los Angeles in 1948. Keith Treece told Greg that he provided the 8-inch channel and the bobbed fenders (the combination was more common in rainy Seattle than sunny California). Treece also filled the seams, shaved the handles, and installed the Nerf bars.
This time around, Josh Bjorgo at Rocky Mountain Street Rods got the body back into shape and re-fit the aluminum track-nose assembly. The King Bee headlights and '39 taillights were retained from the original buildup. Fred Herring at Creative Visions in Thornton, Colorado, mixed and shot DuPont paint to recreate Bob Ellis' '59 Buick Lido Lavender paint job.
Acme Upholstery in Seattle originally stitched white tuck 'n' roll around a pair of MG buckets. Stewart-Warner curved-glass gauges-and a Sun tach-filled the polished insert in an Auburn dash. The interior was topped off with a 17-inch Bell steering wheel. A Corvette-style rear deck panel was finished with a chrome rollbar. The chalk white upholstery with lavender piping was redone by Jay Schluter at Pjays Upholstery in Denver and extends to the custom door panels and running boards. Black loop carpeting is just like it was. Josh Salter at Rocky Mountain Street Rods routed the wiring.
Owner contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org