While it would be romantic to think that each of the three '32 roadsters presented in this story were survivors from the early days, the truth is that each has much more modern roots-this one beginning with a desire for a quick economic return for builder Rudy Rodriguez. In recent years Rudy has been known for his own innovative designs and building techniques, but for this project he looked back to the simple days of rodding when speed was the focus and removing a few parts from an otherwise stock '32 Ford was all that was needed for an added thrill.
Starting with a gennie '32 Ford rolling chassis, Rudy began putting together his own personal vision of the perfect 1940s lakes runner. He worked hard gathering and recycling as many original '32 bits as possible, but the one piece that is common to each of the cars featured in this tome is a reproduction body from Brookville Roadster. Sometimes viewed as a concession to authenticity and "period correctness," the use of these fine representations of one of Ford's finest creations has become an acceptable step in the process of "traditionalism." Once all the parts were gathered, Rudy set forth to bring back each assembly (from the largest to the smallest) to better than factory condition-while still not losing the original flavor of the Ford pieces. The parts went together just as they had decades before for the hot rod pioneers. Every detail down to the beautiful black paint, interior, original-style cloth-covered wiring, and correct hardware were well planned by Rudy, and once he completed his marathon build he took the car to the annual Father's Day Roadster Show in Pomona and tempted fate with a "For Sale" sign in the windshield.
It didn't take long for one serious collector named Billy Gibbons (yeah, the bearded one from Texas that picks a mean guitar) to notice the car that had a constant crowd of admirers, and he made it clear he had finally found the perfect '32 roadster he'd always longed for. A deal was made and Billy took the car over to his good friend Pete Chapouris' So-Cal Speed Shop for a few additions. Although the car was nearly perfect, Billy wanted two things added: a hood and a top; both of those items were constructed in true period form, with the shape of the top coming from another historic '32 highboy, the McGee/Scritchfield roadster. Now that all the alterations have been made, the only thing left for Billy to do is find enough time in his busy schedule to enjoy the music of the sweet-sounding Flathead engine.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Billy F. Gibbons
1932 Ford Roadster
The underpinnings of Billy's ride started with an original unmolested chassis that was given a full complement of '40s-era hot rod upgrades by builder Rudy Rodriguez. Up front, the original '32 Ford "heavy" axle was drilled and '40 Ford spindles and brakes added before the entire frontend was chromed. Tube shocks limit the bounce as a '32 steering box guides the car. Under the rear hangs a gennie '32 banjo rearend upgraded with '40 juice brakes and '32 lever shocks. All the original chassis components were massaged to perfection before being sprayed a glossy black.
The '39 Ford 221ci Flathead is shifted through a top loader trans and dressed up with a pair of polished Sharp heads and a Thickstun PM-7 intake that runs a pair of Jerry Jobe-prepped Holley 94 carburetors. A pair of Red's headers route the spent gasses through a dual exhaust system by Cannon's Muffler service.
Wheels & Tires
Rolling stock choices are limited on a '40s-style "period perfect" '32 Ford hot rod, and one of the best of those choices will always be the classic 16-inch Ford steelies wrapped in big and little Firestone rubber. This set of '40 Ford rims mounts a set of 5.50 and 7.50 Firestone Deluxe Champions. A rare set of '40 Mercury hubcaps add the finishing touch.
Body & Paint
Starting with a fresh '32 roadster body assembled by Eric Hansen from pieces supplied by Brookville Roadsters, Rudy and his friend Dale Evans took it a step further and massaged every body line and reveal to more closely match the lines of an original Ford body. Additional parts like the grille shell, firewall, and gas tank are original '32 pieces. Once they were satisfied with their untold hours of bodywork, Robert Lomas laid down the multiple coats of Centari "Pitch Black" acrylic enamel.
Keeping with the early days of rodding vibe, not much has been altered interiorwise from what you would have found in a brand-new '32 Ford roadster. Other than the steering wheel (a '39 Ford banjo), the passenger compartment of Mr. Gibbons' roadster takes you right back to the Depression era of the 1930s with a completely original dash, gauges, steering column, and drop with original ignition lock. Original-style brown leather was stitched up by Carol Knap in Whittier, California, and factory-style cloth-wrapped wiring was installed by Kevin Quesenberry.