We all like a rare early car, and some of the rarest are the ’32 Ford B400 and sedan delivery. Compared to the panel delivery, of which just over 6,000 were produced, only 406 sedan deliveries rolled out of Henry’s factories, based on a regular Tudor sedan body but with a rear door and paneled-in rear side windows, at an extra cost of $90 over a stock sedan. A very limited number of “flower cars” were also built, retaining the rear side glass.
As is often the case nowadays, especially given the limited number of originals and their intended use as hard-working commercial vehicles, the flower car you see here is not one of that limited number, but was built from a Tudor sedan. It belongs to Richard Graves, of Richard’s Wheel and Chassis in Long Beach, California, and was built up into a roller some 20 years ago (but then Richard “got busy in the shop, and it was moved to one side”). Two decades later, he decided he really ought to finish it. With another two years invested, and with the help of Matt Porter, he now has a neat hot rod that he uses for Early Times runs and swap meets.
The body was purchased from Richard Lacey in the late ’80s/early ’90s, and, using a spare rear panel to form the doorskin, Richard cut the back of the sedan and fabricated the necessary return edges for the aperture, also making a door frame to fit. Amazingly, he sourced an original latch for the door, and then hung it on repro ’32 three-window hinges. While original ’32 deliveries had the side glass replaced with plywood that had sheetmetal bonded to it, then screwed in place, Richard left the windows in situ, eliminating the huge blind spot associated with the paneled-in version.
The body mounts to what started as a perimeter chassis from Kiwi Konnection, completed with tubular crossmembers. A dropped ’32 axle mounts to a split ’36 wishbone with ’46 spindles, used as they are easier to adapt to the ’56 F-100 brakes Richard used. You don’t build as many hot rods as Richard has without developing a few tricks in your arsenal, and the springs are just one example. “The front spring is a ’35-40 Ford with tapered leaves; I also fabricated a new main leaf with reversed eyes. They are actually 2 inches wide and will not fit in the ’32 front crossmember so I have them Blanchard-ground to 1 3/4 inches. I like to use these springs as I prefer the way they ride over any of the aftermarket stuff sold today.”
The rear spring is another ’35-40 item, again with a new reverse-eye main leaf, and tapered leaves. This suspends a 9-inch rearend from a ’57 Ford station wagon, with 3.5:1 posi-traction gears. Richard bought the posi at a swap meet and, once installed, the car pulled badly to the left under power, but went straight when he backed off the gas. After checking the alignment and going through the car, he figured it had to be the clutches slipping in the posi. Pouring in some additive, then driving in circles both clockwise and counterclockwise 20 times each solved the problem, and it’s been fine since!
The engine under that correct-for-a-delivery 25 louver hood is a 265ci Chevy, pulled from a friend’s original ’57 210 hardtop as it “had a rattle”. When Richard tore it down he found it to be like new inside, the rattle coming from a loose balancer on the crankshaft. Tapping the crank and installing a bolt cured that problem! While it was apart he honed the bores, added a Duntov 3270 solid lifter cam and pop-up pistons, then dropped in an early cast-iron distributor and bolted on an Edelbrock 500 carburetor. He also added a Snow White water pump adapter, which moves the fan to the center of the radiator. The mid-’80s GM alternator and the A/C equipment are from Old Air, and the stainless steel exhaust manifolds came from Speedway Motors. A truck bellhousing with the hydraulic slave cylinder on the right hooks the small-block to a T5 trans from an ’80s Camaro, with an S10 tailshaft. An early ’60s Chevy truck master cylinder that combines the brake and clutch cylinders in a single unit is something Richard has employed on his builds for years.
Quite apart from the delivery conversion, there are two things that stand out on this Deuce. The first is the gas tank, or rather the lack of one. “I didn’t want the original gas tank to stick out beyond the body, so I fabricated a saddle gas tank with an odd-ball shape so it holds 20 gallons, though if I did it again I’d work with the stock tank,” he says. The filler is now in the floor behind the front seats. The other standout? Those wheels. Richard wanted to use 18-inch wires but wanted to use wider tires than originals would allow, so he sourced Motor Rim centers, designed for 17-inch wheels, and laced them to 4 1/4- and 5 1/2-inch hoops, dimpled and pierced by Buchanan’s in Azusa, California, who also made the spokes. The 700 and 500 Excelsior tires from Coker now provide the look he was after.
With black acrylic enamel by Gerardo Hernandez, and pinstriping by Dennis Ricklefs, the unique ’32 was finished last winter, just in time for what passes for winter in California to set in! However, Richard’s been enjoying it ever since, ensconced in saddle-colored leather seats taken from old furniture he had, while keeping an eye on a set of Stewart-Warner bubble glass gauges in a ’32 Cadillac dash insert. We’d say that’s vintage parts recycling at its finest!