It's hard to live life if you keep thinking about all the "What ifs" and second guessing everything you want to do. In fact people that think too much about the negative "what ifs" are usually destined to fail because they'll talk themselves out of the things that might lead them to success.
On the other hand, when it comes to building hot rods and customs we wouldn't be here if we didn't constantly ask "What if." When Sam Barris saw the 1949 Mercury for the first time you know he immediately asked himself, "What if I chopped that top?" Racers work the same way. "What if we lose some of the excess weight and drop in the bigger engine? What if we mixed a little nitro into the fuel? What if we mixed a LOT in?"
Steve Kormondy is no stranger to traditional hot rods. He formed a relationship with Jason and Jim Smith at the Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, several years ago and worked together with them to restore the Rollin' Stone drag/street '32 Ford roadster. Over the years, Steve had also owned an Ardun-powered roadster that he sold not too long ago. He liked the Ardun so much that he knew he had to have another one. When he heard about the new aluminum blocks Don Ferguson was introducing, he decided he wanted to go a little overboard and assemble the ultimate Ardun. He gathered all the pieces and had the 296ci aluminum engine assembled by Chas Rose. Once he had the engine complete he had a problem. He didn't have a hot rod to showcase it in.
This is where he got together with Jim and Jason again and they came up with their own "What if." The group started brainstorming and kept coming back to the glory days of the dual-purpose drag race/show car days of the late-Fifties and early-Sixties. Images of the Orange Crate, Scotty's Muffler T and others kept coming up. So it was thrown out: what if John Mazmanian had built a Deuce? The Mazmanian '61 Corvette and '41 Willys not only tore up the track but could hold their own (and did) at an indoor car show. Mazmanian's cars were always covered in his signature Candy Apple Red so the color was a no-brainer. The rest of the details now needed sorting out.
With the idea born it was presented to artist and designer Jimmy Smith who took the idea and put pen to paper and soon had a concept ready to go (in case you don't remember you can check out our Dream Car of the Month in the March '09 issue to see the results). Over the next 15 months the Hot Rod Garage crew took Steve's inspiration and Jimmy Smith's vision and built an over-the-top Deuce to showcase an equally over-the-top engine.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Sand Springs, OK
1932 Ford Roadster
The roadster's foundation consists of a Squeak Bell perimeter chassis built with ASC `rails and a custom center tube X-member. The rear section was bobbed and raised with a Model A crossmember and a C-notch. The rearend needed to be as strong as it was good looking and what looks better than a quick-change? The Hot Rod Works was called upon and built the quick-change with Moser axles and Wilwood 12-inch disc brakes to stand up to the blown Ardun's power. The Hot Rod Garage suspended the rear with custom hairpins, a Posies spring and Bilstien shocks (mounted on raised shock mounts). Up front behind the painted Moon tank resides an original `32 heavy axle that has been drilled and chromed and located with custom hairpins and a Posies spring. Pete & Jake spindles work with Total Performance drilled stainless steel discs to give it a racy look with stopping power to match. A Flaming River Vega-style `box keeps it pointed straight when the time comes. Custom jamb nuts were machined to cover all the exposed threads of the suspension bars. Stainless steel tubing was used throughout to plumb the chassis.
Right from the start Steve knew that the engine was going to be the centerpiece of this project. He started with a new Don Ferguson aluminum block and sent it along with the rotating assembly to Stanley Morton at Morton Machine Shop (Broken Arrow, OK) to get it all balanced and blueprinted. Chas Rose at Rose Motorsports (Tulsa, OK) took the finished pieces and assembled the engine. A Moldex Tool Co. billet crank with a 4.25in stroke was used with Smith Brothers rods and Ross forged 7.5:1 pistons for a final displacement of 296ci. Crower ground a special billet roller mechanical cam to work the titanium valves in the aluminum Ardun heads. The Blower Shop 6-71 blower sits on a Ken Austin intake and is fed by a pair of Carter 550cfm AFBs. A Joe Hunt magneto lights the fire through clear red plug wires. The Hot Rod Garage built the custom 1-inch stainless headers and 2-inch stainless exhaust using Stainless Specialties mufflers to quiet the blown Ardun. A Mattson aluminum radiator keeps it running cool.
There was no way an old Ford three-speed was going to do the job so a Tremec five-speed was called in and connected with a Wilcap adapter, aluminum flywheel and Centerforce clutch.
Wheels & Tires
When it came to the rolling stock the drag influence definitely took precedence over any street duty the roadster may ever see. Spindle-mount 18-inch Radir 12-spokes wrapped in some skinny rubber lead the slicks and 16x8-inch Real Rodders Wheels mags.
Paint & Body
Unless you're a purist there's really no reason not to start fresh and begin with a Brookville steel body. Once Shawn Craig at the HRG got his hands on the body he started massaging it. The body mods were kept to a minimum with the most obvious being the custom rolled rear pan (protected by a single chromed push bar), filled cowl, and Stanley Wanlass curved windshield. When it was ready for paint Jason Smith and Tom McDonald were given the chore of spraying the Planet Color custom-mixed Candy Apple Red. The Moon tank is held in place with a pair of custom mounts off the spreader bar and leads the way in front of the Brookville grille filled with a Plexiglas cover both of which have been gold leafed and striped by Ron Myers. The Hagan hood top was modified with a scoop to feed the hungry Ardun. Jon Wrights Custom Chrome (Grafton, OH) was called upon to get all the shiny stuff looking perfect.
The interior carries the drag theme but with much more detail than any quarter-mile pounder would have ever had. The dash panel features a mixture of painted steel, red Plexiglas, button-head screws, and chrome and is filled with Stewart Warner gauges. The custom maple-rimmed Speed & Chrome wheel is mounted on a Limeworks Speed Shop column flanked with the speedo and tach mounted in custom cups. The Recovery Room (Plattsmuth, NE) was given the task of covering the interior in black leather, white vinyl, and red fabric. Black and silver thread Trinidad carpet was used to cover the floor. The stainless bell-holed panels, HRG-machined swing pedals, and roll bar built to match the body's curves by Chuck Walker at the HRG contribute to the drag look. The pinstriped mirrored red Plexiglas firewall, aluminum trim and chrome welting add to the show car points. Jason Smith flawlessly wired the roadster (not an easy task with a see-through dash) with a Centech panel.
Inside the trunk you'll find the 16-gallon fuel tank covered in more Candy Apple Red and gold leaf along with more of The Recovery Room's stitch work and stainless bell-holed pieces.