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.
Out back, the guys installed a stout, venerable 9-inch Ford axle. Filled with 3.73 cogs and a limited-slip differential. One-off, I-beam four-link bars were utilized to locate the rearend along with a matching Panhard bar. CHRA worked with Detail Mold and Design to manufacture these beauties (front and rear). Aldan Eagle shocks and a Posies spring suspend and cushion the rear. The 11-inch drum brakes with SO-CAL finned covers finalize the “whoa” duties.
The rolling stock in any build is paramount to the overall vibe a car puts out and we gave considerable thought toward the rollers. EVOD Industries machined these referring back to my sketches. In their design, I tried to emulate an early magnesium-style wheel that might have been used on some European racer from the early ’50s—maybe rediscovered in someone’s barn and refurbished to today’s standards of finish. Sized in 16x6 and 17x8 with just the right offset front and rear, I think everyone involved nailed it! The 185/55R16 and 255/55R17 Pirelli radials have a vintage look while affording the advantages of modern tire construction.
While shooting for a sophisticated look, at the core, this is a hot rod and as such, the drivetrain needed to back this up! A TWM fuel-injected, Roush-built 427 backed with an aluminum-flywheeled Tremec five-speed and McCleod Racing clutch does just that. Back with the engine, TWM injection harkens toward a vintage mechanical-type look but, once again, with modern reliability. Adding even more reliability is a complete MSD ignition system. Custom-made air filters and valve covers and other bits and pieces by Detail Mold and Design help detail the gold-colored block. Accessory brackets were custom fabbed in-house at CHRA. Custom-built headers snake back to Stainless Works steel pack mufflers. All of this muscle is kept at operating temperature with a Griffin copper radiator.
A major factor of a hot rod roadster rubbing shoulders with classic road racing heritage is the interior. It has to, by default, have an air of simple sophistication. The interior finishes must also play nicely with the exterior. All thoughts toward design for the interior were run through these simple parameters. The dash is based on a ’32 Ford piece with an inverted Studebaker gauge housing filled with Classic Instruments’ finest. A matching tach connects the dash to the ’40-style steering column from LimeWorks. Chapman maintained the wheel design I scratched out a few years prior and Greening Auto skillfully made it happen.
Brown leather covers the Glide seat in an understated but elegant manner along with door panels that coexist with the seating. Beautiful brown square-weave carpeting serves as ground zero for this roadster. Detail Mold and Design made the custom door trim that accents everything else. Much credit to Chapman for the exclusion of material things like stereo and A/C … as nice as this car is, it is, after all, a hot rod roadster, built for escaping the realities of day-to-day living!
Of course, right alongside stance, fit and finish are paramount! I think they were all very much wanting to paint the car some form of bronze or brown, simply for the richness these hues afford. The decision was made to use a modified Glasurit bronze. Masterfully applied by Charley Hutton, but not before all the subtle body modifications were performed.
Original Ford tin along with Steve’s Auto Restorations quarters were extensively tailored and pushed/pulled to subtly accentuate the already-beautiful form that is a ’33 Ford! Custom floor and trans tunnel fabbed in steel along with custom hood sides with stock-style louvers added in a slightly more forward and up position. Much-modified sheetmetal wraps around the interior’s perimeter. A new snap strip was extensively reworked to reposition the top back by 3/4 inch. Top bows were modified along with the windshield frame to net a 2 3/8-inch chop at the front. One-off recesses were formed for the custom taillight stands and the headlights were dropped to a more pleasing elevation. Mini-tubs were built in the rear quarters for clearance sake. All chrome was applied by Jon Wright’s CustomChrome Plating to really seal the deal!
Customs and Hot Rods of Andice is Chapman’s answer to not being able to find a decent hot rod shop in his area, so in true hot rod fashion, he built his own shop. We’re glad he did, as this new shop is turning out some incredible cars with more on the horizon!