1933 Ford roadster
Today’s hot rods literally “draw” from inspiration. Visions from the minds of builders as well as subsequent owners often begin as a simple sketch through the hands of a talented artist. Jimmy Smith is not only a designer of all things internally combusted, he’s a hot rodder at heart, and thus his passions truly come to life when he puts media to paper. In lieu of the absence of R&C’s “Dream Car” feature—something we regretfully had to set aside to accommodate a lack of space in which to commit—we still do our best to include the renderings that inspire many of the cars that do make it onto the pages of the magazine, as you may have noticed more so recently (the “Woodward Roadster” and “V-8 Flyer” most notably). This month, we go one step further and not only include the drawings that inspired Michael Kaiser’s AMBR contender, but let the artist himself tell the tale of how this magnificent work of art went from concept to reality. Take it away Jimmy!
Projects almost always start with good intent and high on enthusiasm. Reality steps in to sometimes dictate otherwise, whether it be finances, health, a nasty divorce, or even the dreaded “just lost interest”. In the case of Harold Chapman’s roadster, none of the aforementioned maladies occurred. No, to the contrary, a single, shared vision between a group of guys with a desire to see this car to the end is what happened here. The biggest hurdle this project endured was the changing of hands and shops. The vision, however, stayed on focus.
The prior owner bought the project when he saw it sitting at Pinkee’s Rod Shop. This is where Eric Peratt (owner of Pinkee’s) called me in to help with some sort of direction for the roadster. Peratt’s client wanted to do something race inspired but sophisticated, Peratt and myself were more than on board with that! We agreed that utilizing Ford’s inherently sexy bodywork, in full fender form, would benefit far greater from subtle enhancements over the typical heavy-handed hot rod butchery. The real impact would come from fit and finish and that all-important stance coupled with a sly hint of serious horsepower lurking beneath the surface. At some point early on, Peratt’s client decided to sell the project! It was at this point that I kind of wrote off seeing this one come to fruition. It was also at this point where one Mike Kaiser enters the picture. Mike, an employee at Pinkee’s (in Colorado), had just moved his young family to Texas. Once in Texas, Mike started working at Customs and Hot Rods of Andice (CHRA). His new boss, Harold Chapman, was looking for a 1933 three-window coupe to showcase the shop’s abilities. The clouds parted and the angels sang … all right, that’s a bit much, but this is where Mike informed Chapman about the 1933 roadster project for sale back in Colorado. Chapman got a look at the pile of tin and the “blueprint” and cut a check to get it to Texas, pronto! Scratch the coupe, say hello to the roadster! Mike was tickled as he had confided in me that he was always into our vision of this ’33 and could not be happier to be involved with making the car a reality! I couldn’t be happier as I was quite stoked about the concept as well. Mike’s nickname should be “sticky” because he was the glue that held … never mind.
By the time the car arrived at CHRA the project had some initial things started. Mike assessed what was there and then the build started, again, in earnest. As the build went on, it quickly became apparent that a run for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona might just be in the cards. What better way to get a relatively new shop’s name on the hot rod map?
Starting with the chassis, it was decided that the best way to get the stance and quality they were truly after would be to strip the existing frame down to its basic Henry Ford ’rails and start over. Starting with a 2-inch wheelbase stretch, all crossmembers and boxing plates were scratch-built in 0.120-wall steel, fully boxed with dimpled recesses for a very unique look.
The custom-built front axle was made from aluminum and was hung with one-off hairpins. Fitted with an antiroll bar and Bilstein shocks, a Posies chrome Super Slide spring suspends it all. Detailed SO-CAL Buick-esque drums help bring this car down to a stop. CHRA used a modified Vega-style Flaming River box for steering duties.