Back in 1980, Hot Rod magazine ran a story on a project car built entirely from brand-new parts ordered by phone from the aftermarket. Nothing original. Nothing salvaged. Nothing hot rodded. At the time, the idea seemed extraordinary-even a little nuts. Today, you can walk through any high-profile hot rod event and see all kinds of mail-order rods like that behind velvet ropes or plastic chains.
At shows like the West Coast Kustoms Cruisin' Nationals in Santa Maria, California, on the other hand, you're far more likely to find hot rods built without the benefit of catalogs and credit cards-hot rods like this '25 Dodge roadster, built, owned, and driven by Derrek Boling.
When Derrek bought the Dodge a few years ago, it wasn't to build it up. He wanted a '26 T sedan body that a friend of his owned, so he bought the Dodge from another friend to trade for the T. A couple years later, the Dodge hadn't progressed very far, so Derrek did some more trading to get it back.
What he started with was a rough, old, untouched touring body-minus the doors-rusting on the stock frame. Derrek's original plan was just to build a cool hot rod roadster out of it, using spare parts he already had or could get easily, and fabricating the rest. He never strayed from that plan.
The first part fabricated was the new frame, built from 2x4-inch tubing to replace the original 'rails. A radical 15-inch Z at the rear drops the channeled body below the height of the tires. He said that once the frame was finished and he started hanging the suspension, the whole thing started coming together.
Much of the original steel was completely rusted and had to be replaced, especially the floor and cowl. While repairing or removing those damaged areas, Derrek was able to convert what was once the front portion of a touring into a complete modified roadster. That included building side skins to replace the doors-and creating holes in the rocker area for the split wishbones to attach to the frame. He said the biggest challenges of building such a low-riding car and keeping it drivable were hanging the rear suspension and building the steering system to keep the geometry correct.
The drivetrain is a Chevy small-block and Powerglide combination transplanted from a Chevy pickup. The interior was kept as simple as possible to fit the whole general concept of the roadster.
The vast majority of the buildup was done by Derrek at his shop, Boling Brothers Early Iron, with assistance from Jerrad Gilpin, Pepper Sanchez, and Daniel Castro, who are his fellow members in the Royales car club. When the Dodge made its public debut in Santa Maria, it got a lot of attention and appreciation. Attention because of what it looks like and appreciation because of how it was built.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
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1925 Dodge Modified Roadster
There's no way this is riding on a stock Dodge frame. Boling Brothers Early Iron fabricated the custom 'rails from 2x4-inch tubing, with 2x3 where it kicks up at the rear. The front and rear split wishbones mount to the 'rails though an opening in the channeled body-which Derrek told us is his favorite touch on the car. Pete & Jake's shock absorbers ride at all four corners and drum brakes grab all four wheels. In the front, Derrek added a Super Bell dropped axle with Ford spindles. The Corvair steering box is controlled by a custom-built column. The rear axle hangs on quarter-elliptic springs-the '50 Ford differential is filled with "too low" gears, according to Derrek. Daniel "Tall Can Dan" Castro sprayed the black paint on the 'rails and suspension parts and earned his nickname by refusing any payment except for a few tall cans of Coors.
A Chevy small-block of unknown origins, pulled from the engine bay of an operational pickup, seems like the perfect powerplant for this rod. The block and stock manifold disappear under a coat of body-color paint, but the chrome helmet-style air cleaner, single Rochester two-barrel carb, finned valve covers, and custom-made open megaphone headers draw lots of attention. The pickup also provided the Powerglide automatic transmission.
Body & Paint
Converting a touring car into a roadster took a little sheetmetal surgery by the owner, including lengthening the body about 4 inches and narrowing the Dodge grille. Derrek built some custom side skins to replace the missing doors. He creating an upper bead along the added steel to match the rest of the body, eliminating the door openings but retaining a seam to help break up the body lines and avoid the smooth look of a fiberglass car. A single center Model A taillight is a great touch, mounted above a Model T fuel tank, which was notched to clear the rearend. Pepper Sanchez from Royale Vintage in Tulare took care of any sheetmetal flaws and painted it in deep maroon. Pinstriping by Ruben, out of Visalia, California, followed up with some clean 'striping on the grille shell, cowl, and dash.
Wheels & Tires
Blackwall skinny bias-plies on early spoke wheels emphasize the old-time look of the roadster. The wheels are 19-inch '30-31 Model A wires. The front tires are from BFGoodrich and the rears are Cokers.
It's super simple on the inside of the roadster. Derrek and any passenger settle into custom seating, built to use the floor and the rear portion of the body as the seat structure, separated by a center piece. All the stitching was handled by Chavez Upholstery in Visalia. The stock Dodge dash is painted to match the rest of the car, detailed with some additional 'striping, and dressed up with Stewart Warner Wings gauges: speedo, water temp, and oil pressure. A wrecking yard shifter and flat four-spoke sprint car steering wheel were practical and appropriate additions.