When I sent the preliminary photos of this car to our editor for feature approval, his immediate response was yes, but with a question attached. Kevin wondered, almost as though he were thinking out loud, why so many of the cool '32s were black. Well I really didn't have an answer, I'd never really thought about it. Serious hot rods are black; that's what we have come to expect. It's a tradition dating back to the beginning of the movement. I personally like to think it has something to do with our image of the bad boy delinquent terrorizing the streets in his fast, loud, evil machine--women and children scurrying for cover while black-and-white police cars with single red flashing lights on the top attempt to maintain order so law-abiding citizens can be safe on the streets. In other words, it's the old movie stereotype that plays in our heads. Or it could be that most of the old cars that young men of the time were able to buy were black and performance parts were more important than new paint. I personally prefer the first explanation, but to each his own. Now that I've managed to not really answer the original question, let's get on with the real story about this black '32.
As I'm sure you've noticed, it doesn't matter what a dedicated car guy is doing or where he is, he's always looking for the next hot setup, the next trick piece, or the next great project. By nature he is full of plans and generally has a list of potential projects that will outlive him by decades. The upside of all this dreaming and scheming is that when something comes along he will, without hesitation, jump on it because he has a plan.
Case in point, Jerry Eckholdt and his good friend Don Albers took a little time out to attend the Chili Bowl Midget Races in Tulsa in January of 1999. During a lull in the action they struck up a conversation with a gentleman in the stands who claimed to have a variety of cars on his Oklahoma property. As the conversation progressed from the cars he had owned to the ones he still had and the ones he would be willing to part with, an uncut full-fendered '32 five-window was mentioned. At that point Jerry, who had been idling through most of the conversation, got completely engaged. You see, he had been building a five-window Deuce in the back of his mind for years and could suddenly see it all coming together. The mental car was simple, it was basic with a vintage engine and the just-right look, and now it was so close he could almost feel it. Names and phone numbers were exchanged, calls were made, and a short time later Jerry, Don, and Jerry's trailer were on the way to Oklahoma.
Jerry describes the property where the car was stored as an amusement park for car guys. Everywhere he looked were engines, engine pieces, bodies, body panels, and suspension pieces--it was a gold mine of hot rod stuff. As they drove through the property they had a running commentary on each item they spotted until they came to the abandoned U-Haul box in a back field that had been home to the '32 for the past 15 years.
Even at 50 feet Jerry could tell from what he could see that it was a pretty nice car, and was even more impressed when they pulled it out of the box. It was a '60s hot rod powered by a 289 backed by a four-speed and, as Jerry says, very crude by today's standards. Sure there were a couple of nickel-size rust spots on the body, another on the trunk floor, and a few minor dents, but it was the real deal--an all-steel '32 that needed almost no bodywork, just strip the paint (there were 11 coats) and have your way with it. Jerry could hardly make the deal, load the car, and be on his way fast enough.
As he headed east all the plans he had for the car simmered until all that remained was the pure essence of a '32 Ford five-window hot rod. By the time he got the car back to his shop he had built it in his head at least twice. That was the easy part; in reality it took three years to complete the project. Sure, some of the original design plans got changed along the way, but the basics hung right in there to the end. The car is black, fenderless, and powered by an early Hemi with a Richmond five-speed behind it. It is exactly the car he set out to build and he is having the time of his life running it up and down the road.
So what do you do when one of the projects you've planned for years is complete? Simple. If you're Jerry Eckholdt, you start on the next project that you've planned for years. This time it's a Buick-powered '33 three-window with a quick-change.