Sure, we’re bringing you the quintessential hot rod, a red ’32, but this five-window definitely isn’t “just another red ’32”. When we ran into Ray Williams and his coupe at the NSRA Nats in Louisville last summer, the combination of the abundance of louvers and the artillery wheels drew us in closer; our journalistic curiosity piqued.

Seems Ray turned a hobby into a business with what started in 1978 as buying and restoring old aluminum wheels as a sideline. That mutated into restoring and selling magnesium wheels, rare aluminum wheels, vintage speed parts, and Halibrand V-8 quick-change rearends, and today offering ’glass bodies, Thunder Road chassis, and a complete line of Pete & Jakes hot rod parts, at Ray’s Hotrod Garage in Wyoming, Rhode Island.

It’s somewhat ironic, then, that his personal hot rod rolls on 17x4 and 18x4 Plymouth artillery wheels, with the rears re-hooped by Rally America to provide a deeper dish. The Excelsior—and Firestone—shod steels, however, are supplemented by another set of wheels for a totally different look, depending on Ray’s mood. When he feels like a change—and it certainly is a change—he’ll bolt on a pair of Michelin-wrapped 15x4 Halibrands and a couple of 16x10 two-piece ET III rims with 11x16 Firestone Double Diamond rubber!

Fast old cars are in Ray’s blood, as his father raced circle track and built hot rods, and this coupe has been his lifelong dream. The retired machinist’s five-window took two years to build, starting with an excellent original body sourced through, and located in Cumberland, Rhode Island. He always wanted a car with louvers, and he certainly made sure this was it! In fact, there are a total of 532 on the car (five-window ’32, geddit?), with 198 on the roof insert, 152 on the hood, 12 on the rear spreader bar, 8 on the front, 4 on each headlight, and 3 per taillight, with more on the radiator shroud, all punched by Howard Farwell in Kansas City, Kansas. The wheels aren’t the only thing Ray has two sets of though, as when he got the decklid skin back, complete with 136 louvers perfectly punched, they’d been done upside down! Perhaps the confusion was a result of it being a trunk, and not a rumble seat, with the handle hole at the bottom and not the top? It makes nice wall art though we’re sure, and a great conversation piece! We always like to ask what was the most challenging part of a project build, and believe us, it came as no surprise when Ray said painting, sanding, and buffing around those louvers was definitely at the top of the list.

The only body mod on the coupe is the top chop, performed by Ray to the tune of 2 1/2 inches, though he did fabricate a tray under the louvered insert to catch any rainwater that may enter, which drains through six tubes, one inside each roof pillar. As well as louvers, it seems Ray’s a firm believer in hot rods having three pedals too, as there’s a Tremec five-speed backing the dual four-barrel 358-inch small-block Chevy, with, unsurprisingly given Ray’s occupation, a Winters V-8 quick-change out back, hung on a chrome Model A leaf spring.

Incidentally, Ray listed the quick-change as the coupe’s “stereo” on his spec sheet, and the cowl vent as the “air conditioning”. Hmm … this may look and sound like an old-time hot rod, but you can bet it’s a little quicker than one, given his circle track roots and selection of running gear. No wonder Ray gets behind the wheel as often as he can!

Rod & Custom Feature Car

Ray Williams

Wyoming, Rhode Island

1932 Ford Five-window coupe


The foundation for Ray’s coupe is a Thunder Road Deuce frame, with Model A front and rear crossmembers, and a custom tube X-member, the wheelbase stretched by 1 inch. A 4-inch dropped Super Bell axle is located on hairpins and a Posies spring, all chromed, as are the Pete & Jakes shocks and the backing plates hiding SO-CAL Speed Shop disc brakes. Thunder Road fabricated the pedal assembly, while steering is taken care of by a Vega box.


Ray selected a ’72 vintage small-block Chevy, bored 0.040 inch over to give a displacement of 358 ci, with all machine work and assembly by Ashway Performance Engineering. A Scat crank, I-beam rods, Ross pistons, and a COMP Mother Thumpr cam make up the reciprocating assembly, topped with Brodix aluminum heads and an Offy 2x4 manifold, with a pair of Edelbrock 500-cfm carbs. Cal Custom valve covers and air cleaner provide dress-up with L’il John Buttera accessory brackets. Custom stainless headers feed a 3-inch stainless system incorporating Sprint Car mufflers. A Tremec five-speed, modified for a mid shifter, receives the power through a lightweight Corvette flywheel and Hayes clutch, sending it on to a Winters V-8 quick-change with 31-spline axles and 9-inch Ford brakes. A chromed Panhard bar and four-link keep the rearend in check, with a Model A spring and Pete & Jakes shocks handling suspension duties.

Body & Paint

With the exception of the Rootlieb hood and Vintique grille shell, this coupe is all original steel, owner-chopped by 2 1/2 inches, and filled with 532 louvers. A 16-gallon Vintique gas tank brings up the rear, with all plumbing in stainless steel. The ’34 commercial headlights point the way at night, with ’37 rears flanking the gas tank. Brian Stitts at BS Creations got the nod to perform the body and paintwork, using PPG Ohio Red for the body, chassis, grille insert, and the artillery wheels.

Wheels & Tires

Plymouth artillery wheels, 17x4 and 18x4, with 5-inch Excelsior and 7-inch Firestone rubber respectively, adorn the car in our pictures, though Ray also has a set of 15x4 Halibrands with 165 Michelins and 16x10 ET IIIs with 16x11 Firestone Double Diamond tires for when he feels the coupe needs a more aggressive look.


A smooth steel Bob Drake repro dash filled with Classic Instruments gauges is in Ray’s line of sight behind the Bell three-spoke wheel on a Lime Works column when he’s driving. Fred Cariello covered the interior panels and Krist Kustom seat in bone-colored leather with matching Mercedes carpet, while a Painless harness ensures trouble-free electrics. Air conditioning is provided by the stock cowl vent and opening windshield.

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