Rod & Custom Feature Car
Jerry Eckholdt
O'Fallon, Missouri
1932 Ford Five-Window Coupe

To get the project started, Jerry selected a new chassis from Hot Rods & Custom Stuff (Escondido, CA), which featured a wheelbase stretched 3 inches to accommodate engine installation, 'rails arched to lower the stance, and Hemi engine mounts, all as part of the package. The rear suspension is a triangulated four-bar setup with Aldan coilover shocks attached to a 3.00:1 '57 Ford 9-inch with stock drum brakes. Up front, a Chassis Engineering 4-inch dropped I-beam attaches to the frame with Hot Rods & Custom Stuff hairpins. Both ends of the I-beam are capped with '39 Ford spindles, '39 Lincoln backing plates, and Buick-style drums. Vega steering controls the direction while bumps are smoothed by a Posies spring and a pair of So-Cal shocks.

The only power choice possible in Jerry's eyes was a vintage Hemi, so he located a 354 Dodge truck engine and dropped it off at AMT Performance in St. Louis where it was fully machined and fitted with an array of internal performance parts. Jerry added a pair of Edelbrock 500-cfm carbs on a Weiand manifold, some nicely trimmed steel Fire Power rocker covers, a pair of homebuilt custom headers, and an MSD ignition system. To get the power to the rear wheels, Jerry adapted a Richmond five-speed to the back of the Hemi and the drivetrain was complete. Vintage look, modern tech, reliable power--how much better could it possibly get?

Wheels & Tires
To really nail the vintage hot rod look, Jerry started with a pair of 16-inch Stockton wheels, then wrapped them with 6.00 bias-ply Firestones up front and 7.90 dirt track bias-ply Firestones at the rear. Then to polish the look just a bit more, Jerry added a set of chrome Ford caps to the black steel wheels.

Body & Paint
The fact that Jerry started with a pristine body meant that there was very little sheetmetal work necessary; he just had to remove something like 11 layers of old paint and start prepping the metal. Of course, there were decisions to be made. First, should the top be chopped, and second, should there be hood sides? The answer to that was simple: no, the top should not be chopped. That would make it look like all those 'glass cars out there in profile, and that simply was not the look Jerry was after. The second was a little more involved, because Jerry decided he wanted hood sides but he wanted louvers, and because of the Hemi there was a hood clearance problem. The solution was to use a Rootlieb top and build louvered hood sides with traditional blisters to clear the rocker covers. Sounds simple, but when you choose to hammer the blisters out yourself it takes a little time and a lot of talent. Originally, Jerry painted the car in his home shop, but when it was completed he felt that the car was much better than the paint, so he took it to H&H Auto Body (St. Charles, MO) where Bob Hifill laid down a slick coat of black DuPont single-stage Centari that was a mate to the perfection of the body. There are other touches: the stock '32 grille, '35 Chevy headlights, and a pair of '37 Ford taillights, not to mention the rear license plate light housing that Jerry fabricated in his shop, the strip of louvers he added to the rear wheelwell openings, and the white firewall with its vintage decals, pinstriped by M.K. John (Montgomery City, MO).

The last guy in is always the upholstery guy, and he is the one who can tie it all together. In this case Don Albers (St. Charles, MO) was the guy to really bring it together by installing a beautifully executed traditional lipstick red rolled vinyl interior. Jerry filled the instrument panel with VDO instruments and added a glovebox to the passenger side of the dash. After painting it red, he had M.K. John lay down more really cool old-school pinstripes. Then there's the owner-modified '39 Ford banjo steering wheel he gets to wrap his fingers around every time he gets in the car.