In the early days of street rodding, rodders and customizers could manipulate genuine steel to realize their dreams of speed and beauty, as the now-beloved makes of the ’30s and ’40s were little more than used cars back then. Over time, the number of gennie bodies dwindled, but interest in rodding did not, so resourceful entrepreneurs recreated the most popular body styles in fiberglass. ’Glass was inexpensive, easy to work with, and an ideal medium for ultra-smooth billet rods. But for some, only “real steel” will do. Couple that with the current trend toward traditional cars (fiberglass can’t have patina), and metal-crafting is making a strong comeback. The problem is that genuine steel bodies are even more scarce than they were 20 or 30 years ago.

Again, resourceful entrepreneurs have stepped in with reproduction bodies and parts made from steel. Some of these products are replicas so precise that they can be used to replace worn or rusted-out gennie iron. Others have been modified to give rodders a headstart on common upgrades. These pieces can be tweaked and customized as traditionally as you want. Some must be massaged, in fact, since in the reproduction process they acquired the imperfections found on the original stampings.

Here’s a roundup of some companies reproducing bodies and body parts in steel. Since so many companies work in metal these days, we’ll deal with the firms making entire bodies, then move to those companies repopping major body components.

The Body Makers

Hot Rods & Horsepower

The latest news in the body business is the Dearborn Deuce, a chopped ’32 three-window coupe that will be available this summer from Hot Rods & Horsepower. The prototype for this body has already won the Best New Product trophy at this year’s Street Rod Manufacturing Association show. The Dearborn Deuce is news for a number of reasons. The first is obvious: It’s a closed car in a world of repro roadsters. Says Jim Inglése, the company’s co-founder (yes, that Jim, formerly of Inglése Induction), “We wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before.” Using a set of original blueprints and a thoroughly modern laser-scanning/CAD-CAM system (which creates incredibly precise dies), Hot Rods & Horsepower will produce what Inglése calls a “rodder-friendly” three-window body.

“Rodder-friendly” means certain changes have been made to the car’s original design. The top was chopped 2-½ inches, and the roof is all steel. The cowl was filled, the firewall recessed, Hagan hidden hinges used, and the doors designed to accept power windows. Unlike the original bodies, there’s no wood in the Dearborn Deuce; steel internal supports add stiffness to the body tub. “From the outside, the lines and dimensions are virtually identical to an original ’32,” Inglése tells us. The Dearborn Deuce can be ordered with an original firewall and external door handles for a more traditional look. The bodies will be made from 16- and 18-gauge steel and will be delivered in bare metal. Hot Rods & Horsepower is also tooling up to manufacture front fenders and dashboards using the same computer-aided design and manufacturing processes as the bodies.

The “Dearborn” name isn’t just a nod to Ford’s HQ. The Dearborn Deuce will be made entirely in the Detroit area, using many of the same vendors and suppliers that manufacture body parts for the Big Three automakers. This will give the Dearborn Deuce original-equipment levels of quality, says Inglése, but will also exact a price.

“Doing it all in Detroit is expensive,” he admits, “and costs far more than if we tried to do this offshore. But the quality difference is [like] night and day.” Those production costs translate to a price of $18,500 for the body. (By comparison, Brookville’s ’32 stock roadster body retails for $10,500.) On the up side, though, Inglése’s Detroit facilities will give him significant production capacity. The company says it will ramp up production to kick out 16 bodies per month and 25 sets of fenders per week.

Production isn’t in full swing yet, but Hot Rods & Horsepower is already looking ahead. Its next body, a chopped ’33 three-window, will be unveiled at the NSRA Nationals in Louisville, with production scheduled for “a few months” after the debut, Inglése says. “By next spring, we will be introducing our third steel body, which will take everyone by surprise,” Inglése promises. And no, he didn’t give us a clue as to what it will be. Information: Hot Rods & Horsepower, N. Branford, CT; 203/623-0659; www.hotrodsand horsepower.com.

Brookville Roadster

Brookville has been in the steel-body business since 1982, and its inventory includes six different all-steel ’32 and Model A roadster bodies. The As are available in full-fendered or highboy versions, while the Deuce is sold as a highboy. If you want fenders for the ’32, Brookville sells those, too, along with myriad other steel pieces, including hoods, dashboards, firewalls, and so on. Brookville also offers rod-project starter kits with bodies already mounted to a mild-steel chassis.

Brookville does its own stamping at its facility in Ohio, using the same gauge of cold-rolled, draw-quality, American-made steel as used in the original bodies. The steel panels are painted with a lacquer-based primer before shipping to protect them from rust, but Brookville recommends stripping off that primer and prepping the bare metal for whatever paint you’ll use. You can purchase fully assembled bodies from Brookville, or you can buy a package of body panels and other parts and construct the roadster yourself. Costs for Brookville bodies vary depending on style and additional options. Base prices start at $4,900 for an assembled stock Model A roadster body and $10,500 for an assembled stock ’32 roadster body.

If you’re familiar with Brookville, then you may take issue with the word “inventory” that we used a couple of paragraphs ago. These bodies, particularly the ’32s, are in high demand, and there is a wait between order and delivery. “We pre-sold over 100 ’32s before we had even made the first body,” admits Brookville’s Kenny Gollahon. Currently, Brookville produces from 10 to 12 bodies per month. Gollahon says the wait for a Deuce body is seven to eight months, while you can get your hands on a Model A in 10 to 12 weeks. Information: Brookville Roadster, Brookville, OH; 937/833-4605; www. brookvilleroadster.com.

Kugel Komponents

Kugel first entered the body-building business more than a year ago when it introduced the Muroc, a limited- edition steel and aluminum highboy that was a very stylized take on the classic Deuce shape. Only 10 of the swoopy, low-slung roadsters were built, and Kugel sold every one of ’em. Now Kugel is coming back with the Muroc 2, which adds steel fenders and running boards to a handformed body that’s even longer and lower than the original Muroc.

The car sits on a Kugel/Foose-designed frame and is equipped with polished and chromed independent-suspension systems front and back. The tilt column, stainless U-joints, and shaft are already installed, as are the brake pedal, master cylinder, and booster. The engine and trans mounts on the frame are designed to hold a small-block/ Turbo-Hydro trans combination.

The body’s dramatic lines are accentuated by a custom DuVall-style windshield with curved glass, designed by Kugel. Finishing off the front end is a custom polished stainless steel grille insert from Dan Fink. Options offered by Kugel are a radiator and fuel tank. As with the first Muroc, only 10 of the Muroc 2 cars will be built. The unfinished roller, sold without the tires, wheels, and steering wheel shown in the photo, will retail for $110,000. Information: Kugel Komponents, La Habra, CA; 562/691-7006; www.kugel komponents.com.

Reprosteel

Another newcomer to the reproduction-body market is Reprosteel, a trans-Atlantic effort by Roadsters.com’s Dave Mann and a Swedish hot rodder named Lars Lundstrom. Lundstrom has been developing his ’32 roadster body since 1997, with the goal of “providing the most accurate ’32 Ford roadster bodies made since 1932,” Mann says. Mann started selling Lundstrom’s body panels as unassembled body kits last summer; in August, Mann will have fully assembled Reprosteel bodies to offer through the Web site, Roadsters.com.

Lundstrom designed a roadster that’s “dimensionally identical” to the original car, Mann says, but with “structural improvements to increase the body’s strength and durability.” One example of the changes Lundstrom made was replacing the car’s original three-piece B-pillar with a two-piece pillar (integrated into the quarter-panel) to prevent the piece from cracking, as the originals were prone to do.

Mann told us that he and Lundstrom not only want to provide the “finest-quality” ’32 roadster body, but they want to do so at an affordable price. Though exact pricing hadn’t been set at press time, they’re aiming at a sub-$10,000 cost for an assembled body “with stock door hinges, completely metal finished, and ready for paint,” Mann says. Extra-cost options will include hidden hinges and a working cowl vent. Reprosteel also offers disassembled body kits, consisting of the outer body panels, for $5,100 with a firewall and $4,500 without. Firewalls are available for $600.

This fall, Lundstrom will also produce a limited run of aluminum ’32 roadster bodies. “Same dimensions, same design, but in an exotic and beautiful, if not practical, metal,” Mann says. He figures buyers for an aluminum Reprosteel body will be those planning a drag race or Bonneville car, “or it will make an excellent starting point for someone building an AMBR contender,” he says. Information: Reprosteel, Portland, OR; 503/417-8671; www.roadsters.com. (Outside the U.S., contact Lars Lundstrom, Vuollerim, Sweden; +46-70-3915081; www.repro steel.com.)

Rod Bods

“Designed with the street rodder in mind” is how Rod Bods describes its ’32 roadster. The all-steel body is a reproduction, though not a down-to-the-rivets replica of the original Deuce. Instead, Jim McCain has made some improvements on the original design to strengthen the body, smooth its lines, and modernize some of its functions.

For example, McCain added tube bracing under the cowl and in the rear seat and trunk areas to give the body far more support than the original wood ever had. A recessed firewall (designed to accommodate a small-block) is welded in place to improve strength there, too. The trunk lid has been fitted with weatherstripping, a contemporary latch mechanism, and a gas strut to make it easier to use and watertight. Modern latches were added to the doors, which come standard with hidden hinges but are available with traditional exposed hinges. Appearance mods include filling and shaving the cowl area and shaving the wood tack-strip area behind the seats (though, as with the hinges, you can have a traditional-looking cowl, with beads and a vent as an option).

In fact, Rod Bods’ options list is almost as long as its standard-features list. The company can install a number of different firewalls and windshields, and floor mods can be made to suit a variety of engine/trans combinations. Hoods, tops, rumble seats, and steering columns can be added, and Rod Bods will even louver a hood for you.

If you’re looking to start your project Deuce a little farther along than just a bare body, Rod Bods now offers Stage III chassis as well, with boxed American Stamping rails, a tubular K-member, and several suspension options to choose from.

The basic Rod Bods Deuce body retails for $8,995. Average shipping charges from the company’s Sparks, Nevada, headquarters (near Reno) is about $600. Information: Rod Bods, Sparks, NV; 775/358-1930.

Steve’s Auto Restorations

While most of the reproduction body world is busy making ’32s, Steve’s Auto Restorations (SAR) has carved itself a nice niche by repopping ’33-’34 Ford roadsters. The bodies are dimensionally the same as the original and are made from 19-gauge stamped steel, as the original cars were. The panels are even stamped in Detroit. Assembly, however, is performed at the SAR shop in Portland, Oregon, on a specially constructed jig.

The body comes off the jig pretty complete, with doors hinged and latched, the trunk hinged, a full floor in place, and the firewall and dash panel in place. There’s no wood in these bodies. Instead, SAR builds several 16-gauge bracing structures into the body—in the quarter-panels, behind the seats, and inside the cowl—to strengthen the assembly. Bodies leave the shop in bare metal unless the customer asks otherwise, and the bodies are shipped either in a crate or on a car transporter.

The basic body (without a cowl vent) retails for $14,950. (If you want a vent, that’ll cost an additional $450.) Figure on an eight-week wait between ordering and delivery.

SAR also offers a wide range of ’33-’34 steel body parts, from quarter-panels and cowl parts to doors and skins, fenders and tops. Plus, the shop can build you a Brookville roadster, too, and it offers a number of steel ’32 parts.

As if that weren’t enough, SAR is branching out into the “rolling sculpture” arena with a limited-edition ’33 roadster called the Double Dozen. Designed by SAR’s Steve Frisbie and Chris Ito (who paired previously in the design of the NewMad Nomad), the car will be offered in a run of 24 vehicles: 12 highboys and 12 fendered cars. Each will be consecutively numbered and sold as a “bare steel rolling art form,” says Frisbie. The car’s design features an extended wheelbase, a sectioned body, additional width added to the shoulder area, and a custom DuVall-style windshield. It will roll on a custom-fabricated frame that’s fitted with a quick-change rearend and either Boyd- or Budnik-designed wheels. While Frisbie hasn’t figured the actual price of these cars yet (he’s still finishing his R&D), he has offered the first two units at $125,000 per. Information: Steve’s Auto Rest-orations, Portland, OR; 503/665-2222; www.stevesautorestorations.com.

The Parts Makers

Bitchin Products

Probably best known for its firewalls, Bitchin Products makes all sorts of steel products for street rods, like floors, running boards, dashboards, and more. These are for rods; Bitchin doesn’t make reproduction pieces. The company’s floors, for example, are upgraded with thicker metal and are designed to receive late-model seats. Firewalls, too, are upgraded to 16-gauge steel. All of Bitchin’s products are handmade in the company’s own facility, and all pieces are shipped in bare metal.

By the time you read this, the company will be moving from its Southern California location to Prescott, Arizona. No worries about getting in touch, though; the toll-free phone number will remain the same, as will the Web address. Information: Bitchin Products, Prescott, AZ; 800/422-3993; www.bitchinproductsinc.com.

Deuce Steel

When we first heard of this division of Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, we thought the brand was called “Do Steel.” Works either way for us.

Deuce Steel’s firewall, which will fit ’32 roadsters, sedans, or pickups, is as original as the company could possibly make it. “We bought a complete car to get the perfect firewall to reproduce,” explains Hot Rods & Custom Stuff’s Randy Clark. The firewall is made from five pieces of 14-gauge steel that are stamped, spot-welded, and riveted exactly as the originals were. No holes are drilled, which makes customization easy and eliminates the need for end-users to fill unneeded holes. The firewalls are electronic-deposition paint (EPD) coated to prevent corrosion before they’re shipped, and they retail for $799. A second Deuce Steel product is currently under development: a reproduction of the ’32 12-gallon gas tank. Plus, the company has developed a 15-gallon version that “looks exactly like an original ’32,” says Clark, without sacrificing ground clearance or appearance. Information: Deuce Steel, Escondido, CA; 760/745-1170; www .deucesteel.com.

Hagan Street Rod Necessities

If you’ve struggled to get a hood that fits your Model A or ’32, you understand why Pete Hagan put the “necessities” part in his business’ name. Hagan makes stock-size, three-piece hoods that will fit either a Model A or Deuce grille shell. He can also make hoods that are up to 4 inches longer than stock to accommodate custom rod designs.

Hagan’s hoods are made from 18-gauge steel and feature an 18-gauge reinforcement strip at the front and back. This 0.100-inch metal addition not only strengthens the hoods, but it gives the edges a nice, finished look. Three different hood-side options are available: smooth steel, hot rod louvers (in three rows), or dual stamped scoops. Hagan can also punch custom louvers to fit your particular pattern.

While we’re on the subject of patterns, Hagan offers a template kit that allows customers to draft their own hood design, based on the shape and location of their car’s particular cowl, grille, and so on. Once Hagan receives the template, he builds the hood to the customer’s specs. Delivery time on a custom hood is about a week; stock-dimension hoods ship the same day the order is placed.

Have questions about hoods or hood mounting? Hagan has a detailed video with all sorts of installation tips that’ll save you lots of scratching- your-head time. Information: Hagan’s Street Rod Accessories, Carson City, NV; 775/885-1969; www.haganstreetrods.com.

Pro’s Pick

We realize not everyone is building a Deuce or Model A, so here’s some info for the truck builders out there. Pro’s Pick manufactures reproduction truck-bed kits for just about every Ford and Chevy pickup built from the mid-’30s into the ’70s (and even mid-’80s). The company also man-ufactures smooth running boards for mid-’30s to mid-’50s Fords and Chevys.

The beds are made from 16-gauge steel and the boards are 12-gauge, all stamped in-house at the Pro’s Pick Ontario, Canada, facility. All of the steel is plated, so that areas you can’t reach with paint won’t rust. Parts are also coated in primer before being shipped.

Beds are shipped disassembled, since the Pro’s Pick folks figure their customers would rather spend four hours building the bed than pay the expensive shipping charges for the assembled piece (though assembly is an option). Plan on about two weeks between order placement and parts delivery, and more time if you’re requesting a custom bed. Information: Pro’s Pick, Fergus, Ontario, Canada; 800/865-7366; www.pros-pick.com.

Rootlieb

Rootlieb has been in the reproduction steel parts business since 1973, when it began producing new parts for Model T Fords. Not long after, the company’s founder, Henry Rootlieb, saw sales potential in the burgeoning street rod market and set about designing hoods for modified cars. Though the company still makes restoration-oriented steel pieces, a greater percentage of Rootlieb’s hoods are destined for hot rods.

Open the Rootlieb catalog and it’s easy to see why. There are almost four pages devoted to ’32 hoods alone, with a staggering array of designs. (Who knew there were so many ways to punch louvers?) In addition to the Deuce hoods, Rootlieb makes hoods for virtually any Ford car built from the T to the ’35 model, plus ’33-’37 Ford pickup hoods, ’31-’38 Chevrolet hoods, and ’32-’36 Plymouth and Dodge hoods. Custom hoods are also available.

Rootlieb manufactures its hoods in central California, using either 18- or 20-gauge steel (depending on the application). Before shipping, the hoods are covered with Rust Ban, a waxy coating that keeps contaminants at bay. Prices vary depending on the hood’s design and construction, but, as an example, the Deuce hoods in the catalog were listed from $360 to $600, with most in the $400 range. Information: Rootlieb, Turlock, CA; 209/632-2203; www.rootlieb.com.