In the late '60s, most of the guys at DeKalb County High School were into Corvettes, Tri-Five Chevys, and something new called muscle cars. Ronnie Goodwin, however, was fascinated by what we now know as traditional hot rods, especially the Deuce roadsters he saw on the pages of Hot Rodand Rod & Custom , but never on the streets of Smithvillle, Tennessee.
As years went by, Ronnie collected more magazines and more ideas for the 1932 roadster he would someday drive. All he needed was the right builder to help him make it happen.
Michael Young runs Street Rods by Michael in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Ronnie had known Young for a few years and knew the quality of the cars he built. At a car show in Nashville, Ronnie told Young about the ideas he'd been carrying around. "Builders get a lot of types of customers," Young said. "Some don't know what they want, some kind of know, and some totally know." When Ronnie walked into the shop with an arm load of old magazines, favorite pages carefully tagged, Young knew his new customer was solidly in the "totally know" category.
"I wanted this build to be period correct, with nothing that wouldn't have been available from salvage yards or the local mom-and-pop parts store," Ronnie explains. "It would be postwar and pre '60s, with influences from all my favorite cars. The stance comes from Ray Brown and Walker Morrison. I always liked the engine bay from the Bill Woodward/Neal East Classic. The firewall and steering wheel copy Joe Nitti and Tommy Foster. I hope the simple, elegant metalwork favors the McGee/Scritchfield car."
A lot of suspension work went into getting the perfect 3- to 4-degree rake and centering the 32-inch-tall rear tires in the wheelwells of the Brookville roadster body. Scott Huskey at Street Rods by Michael sprayed the steel with Washington Blue and Vanilla Shake paint from PPG. Ronnie asked well-known 'striper Gary Mizar to "do it like it was," and Mizar's lines provide an amazing finishing touch.
Chevy's small-block, introduced in 1955, was instantly popular with rodders. Ronnie's 383ci version is dressed up with gold paint on the block, triple 97s on an Offy intake, Mooneyes air cleaners and valve covers, and a pair of ram's horn headers. B&B Upholstery covered the interior in blue and cream vinyl with gold piping. The bone-colored Crestliner steering wheel is from LimeWorks, but the look comes from Tommy Foster's roadster.
When the finished car appeared at the Street Rod Nats Builders Showcase the response was so great that Ronnie and Young decided to enter the 2014 Grand National Roadster Show to compete for America's Most Beautiful Roadster. The "Goodwin Speedster" didn't take the big prize, but Ronnie says, "I don't know how we could have got more attention had we actually won." He'll continue to take the roadster to big events for the rest of this year. "People seem to want to see it, so we're going to show it."
What does Ronnie think his hot rod idols would think of the roadster that their own milestone 1932s inspired? "I hope they'd be glad that what they did was remembered, and that they'd take it as a compliment that other people want to carry on what they started."
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1932 Ford Roadster
Street Rods by Michael built a custom frame, notched in front for spring clearance, C-notched in the rear, and pinched 5⁄8 inch per side in front to eliminate gaps between the 'rails and hood sides. A flattened front crossmember allows additional drop. The Super Bell drilled I-beam front axle and spindles are suspended with a Posies leaf spring and hairpins. The 9-inch Ford from John's Industries is sprung by adjustable quarter-elliptical springs. Period-correct airplane-style covered shocks for both ends were built by Pete & Jake's. So-Cal finned brakes with 11-inch discs are mounted in front, with 11-inch drums from John's Industries at the rear wheels.
The 383 stroker Chevy small-block was built by BluePrint Engines in Kearney, Nebraska, for modern performance levels, but dressed for vintage looks with three functioning Stromberg carbs, Offy intake, and copper fuel lines. The aluminum heads were ground smooth and painted for an earlier appearance. Speedway ram's horn headers feed into a custom exhaust from Street Rods by Michael, muted with Flowmaster Hushpower mufflers. A Walker 1932 Ford flat-bottom radiator keeps things cool. The Gearstar 700-R4 transmission with a mild shift kit delivers torque to the 3.70:1 rear gears.
Wheels & Tires
The classic big 'n' little rolling stock is a combo of 18x5.5 and 16x4.5 Wheel Vintiques Smoothies with repro 1941 Ford caps. Coker Tire supplied the skinny Excelsior Stahl Sport tires, measuring 700R18 in back and 500R26 in front.
Body & Paint
The Brookville body got some massaging to reduce gaps and center the rear wheels. A new rear floor was raised 5 inches to clear the axle. Other features include OTB Gear headlights, 1939 Ford taillights, LimeWorks mirrors, Rootlieb hood, and Sid Chavers Bop Top. The traditional Washington Blue paint is contrasted by Vanilla Shake on the firewall, wheels, and on the dash. Gary Mazar's pinstriping highlights the deck, taillights, body beltline, grille shell, and wheels.
The hot rodders who inspired Ronnie would probably feel right at home behind the Crestliner steering wheel on a 1940 Ford-style column (both from LimeWorks). Classic Instruments provided the gauges filling a '53 Ford F-100 panel. B&B Auto Trim wrapped a Glide Engineering short back bench seat in cream vinyl with blue tuck 'n' roll inserts and gold piping to continue the mid-'50s flavor.