Rod & Custom Feature Car
Ron Hartwell
New Smyrna, Florida
1932 Ford Roadster

Ron's roadster rides on '32 Ford 'rails with a Model A front crossmember. Adding a 2-inch Z in the rear and flattening the '32 rear crossmember drops everything a couple inches. The original front axle was dropped 4 inches by So-Cal Speed Shop and equipped with '40 Ford spindles, wishbones, tubular shocks, and brakes cooled via '39 Lincoln air scoops. All the original '32 steering components were retained. The suspension includes tubular aircraft-style shocks, with front upper shock mounts from a '49 F-1 pickup; tubular rear shocks are from a '40 Ford, and '40 drums are used at all wheels-with '39 Lincoln air scoops in the front. Springs are chrome '32 leafs in front and '40 Ford leafs (with two removed) in the rear. The '40 rearend is fitted with 3.78:1 gears.

Under the hood rests a '51 Mercury Flathead, machined by D&H Enterprises in DeLand, Florida, and hot rodded with a 4-inch crank, Isky 3/4 cam, vintage Edmunds dual carb manifold, and a pair of Stromberg 97s running Edmunds air cleaners. Fenton headers flow into straight pipes. The engine is connected to a Flat-O-Matic kit adapting the Flattie to a modern Ford C4 automatic with a shift kit. The column shifted transmission was built at Phil's Garage in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The stock generator was converted to 12-volt.

Wheels & Tires
Open wheels, big 'n' littles, and a level stance is just the way they did it back when Ron was a young guy. Tires are 15-inch big-and-little steelies with Firestone 700-15s in the rear and 670-15s in the front. Wide whitewalls, 3.25 inches across, maintain the nostalgic look, as do the custom hubcaps from a '55 Packard Caribbean.

Body & Paint
The Brookville steel body received a 9-inch channel over the frame at Longley Restorations, and the steel grille and insert were chopped to fit. The authentic-looking canvas top is actually a custom-made, canvas Carson-style top that removes with four bolts. The engine side panels, accented with '37 Ford trim pieces and '55 Pontiac stars, can be removed to show off the Flathead. Tom Johnson from Johnson Interiors in Longwood, Florida, stretched the top over Longley Restorations' wood bow frame. The top was patterned after a '32 once owned by Pete Henderson and now owned by Chuck Longley.

The functioning, foldout windshield was chopped 3 inches and, for a nostalgic touch, the car was ordered from Brookville with a "poor man's air conditioner," a functioning cowl vent. Bell Auto aluminum headlight stanchions are N.O.S. items, found at the Daytona Turkey Run and drilled to fit the framerails. The '41 Chevrolet truck headlights feature an art deco turn signal lens mounted on top. The '53 Pontiac Star Chief taillights were a one-year-only item and feature the genuine glass bezels in the center with handmade chrome rings around the outside of the lights. The exhaust tips protrude through the body and are surrounded by the custom-made Nerf bar. The front bar was fitted with Ron's initials-the way they did it back in the Fifties.

Ron found this shade of lilac lacquer, used originally on '56 Lincolns. Ben's Paints in DeLand worked with Ron, adding pearls and metallics to get the desired shade. Longley's sprayed the custom color and enough clearcoat to protect it from the Florida sun. The body lines are highlighted by some fine line 'striping and Von Dutch-style additions to the trunk and hood, applied by Tom Johnson.

The interior uses a chromed '40 Ford steering column, column shifter, and oversized steering wheel from a '51 Dodge. A set of '55 Mercury swing pedals fit the tight confines of the channeled roadster. With the automatic transmission, both the clutch and brake pedals activate the brakes. The dashboard features a N.O.S. '50 Hollywood gauge cluster from Stewart-Warner. In order to make it fit, Longley's extended the bottom of the dash 2 inches. The rearview mirror comes from a '40 Ford. Tom Johnson from Johnson Interiors in Longwood, Florida, also did the stitch work on the lilac and white Naugahyde interior covering the custom seats. Black carpeting accents the dual shades. The trunk was upholstered to match-and contains the spun-aluminum 10-gallon fuel cell and a 12-volt battery.