Eddie Dye Roadster-1929 Highboy Roadster, James Bobowski-owner
For more on the history of this iconic roadster go to TRJ issue number 77. To bring you up on the current resto, Bobowski hired Jimmy White’s Circle City Hot Rods in Orange, California, to do the restoration, including crew Omar and Dice. At some point all of the lead had been burned out of it so the crew finessed the body and redid the leadwork. Chris Plant in Santa Rosa did the upholstery on the original wooden structure built by the Ayala Bros. What had to be repro’d was the belly pan, gauge insert and gauges, Crestliner wheel, and incidentals. Circle City was thrashing on it right up to this afternoon. To have finally gotten the original Whitey Clayton nose and hood, separated from the car in the late-1950s, reunited to the rest of the car is a story unto itself—again, go to TRJ #77 for all of that drama. We’re thrilled it has finally been restored, and it’s intriguing to consider it could win the AMBR—a car built almost 70 years ago.
Bill Nash, Los Angeles, 1930-31 Highboy Roadster
Warren Boughn’s Precision Hot Rods in Northridge, California, got the nod to build this 1930-31 roadster for owner Bill Nash of Los Angeles. Bill wanted the less popular 1930-31 Model A because you don’t see them done as high boys, yet they’re a traditional hot rod. Boughn friend Dave Gunther built the 383ci Chevy small block fed by dual Edelbrock carbs, with a Halibrand Champ quick change rear on coil-overs. Unique to this car is the integrating of the windshield stanchions to the cowl, which have also been laid back and kicked in. The cowl is welded in, and the gas tank is now in the rear. The Deuce grille shell has been dropped down into the frame. The Boughn frame has been modified to follow the contour of the body, and it’s also been smoothed out at the cowl. Boughn also changed the side of the frame to follow the body contour. Paint by Dan Hansen of Dan-Go, red leather interior by Albert Laura—with real stuffed pleats, 1932 top modified to fold onto itself. Built to be driven, it may be too nice to drive but we hope Bill drives it, and drives it often!
Pete Aardema, San Diego, California, “Porsch-Chalet” 1933 Ford Roadster
Pete is an insane Frankenstein creator of engines—as in whole-engines-from-scratch engines. And he can build complete cars. This roadster is powered by a combo of Porsche V8 heads mated to a Donovan cast Chevy aluminum block with 400hp to the rear wheels. The steel repro body has been lengthened 3-inches and also widened 3-inches by Steve’s Auto in Portland, Oregon, to accommodate the 2002 Corvette torque tube and six-speed transmission mated to the engine. The Corvette rear was narrowed 3-inches, and the positive-offset wheels help stuff everything under the roadster. The rear fenders and apron have been cut down 4-inches. The front suspension uses Corvette A-arms with opposed coil suspension. Everything was fabb’d and finished in Pete’s extensive shop, and he’s always got a number of projects going on when he’s not racing at the lakes or Bonneville. Not done as a traditional build for sure, we’ll see how impressed the judges will be with the incredible engineering.
Chad Adams, Adams Rod Shop, Calhoun, Georgia, 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster
Known for some incredible AMBR paint jobs, Chad came back to the show to see how this traditional roadster fares with the judges. Winters V8 rear quick change on coil-overs, SoCal 4-inch drilled front axle and polished hair pins, 420hp Chevy small block by Blueprint Engines, custom headers with cool stainless flanges, PRC radiator, and 350 turbo trans. Jamie Crook sewed the interior, done in-house in brown leather at Adams. The Brookville body is covered in Adams black PPG base/clear. 1940 Ford hubcaps are painted around their perimeter to minimize the chrome and give a unique look. All-in-all this is a very traditional build, done to the highest level of fit and finish, and the good part is as soon as the show is over this ‘ster is gonna be driven.
Alan Johnson, Yuma, Arizona, 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster
The real unique part of this roadster is the engine, but unlike Pete Aardema’s roadster, Alan’s car runs an engine we’re familiar with, but not in modified cars; the 280ci Cadillac Northstar. These engines were transverse mount, front wheel drive, in stock form. Alan makes components to convert them to conventional rear-wheel drive from his company; Cadillac Hot Rod Fabricators. Cams, pistons, rods, intakes, turbos, cam covers—he makes all the flavors of Northstar to make it a high-rev, 480hp, fuel-injected performance engine. Or blown. Or turbo—whatever you want. The computer is a Holley Pro-Stock unit with Johnson wiring harness. Johnson did the chassis in-house, with a Wescott fiberglass body. 9-inch rear on coils takes up the rear, with the front axle using rack-and-pinion steering, all Johnson’s brackets. The engine is cooled with an electric water pump, to cool things off even in traffic or cruising the fairgrounds. Also the stock pump is in a funky place in stock form, so this works much better for these custom conversions. Dave Watts in Johnson’s shop did the black paint, along with Jimmy Allen and Johnson finishing off the paint. Mark Lopez at Elegance Interiors created the black leather cockpit. Johnson also hand built the steering column, and lots of other bits. Another impressive build that the judges will find interesting given the finish, fabb’d parts, and that Northstar.
“Nickel Roadster” 1932 Ford Highboy, Bruce Meyer-owner
Originally built in 1993 for Bob Morris, Santa Barbara, California, by Don Thelen’s Buffalo Motorcars, Paramount, California, the roadster was featured in TRJ number 61. Freshened up by last year’s AMBR winner Hollywood Hot Rods in Burbank, California, it is a unique circumstance that the roadster has never been in judged competition, yet is considered one of the most impressive builds of the 1990s. The Gurney-Weslake heads on the Ford small block are a rare feature, with the 48IDA Webers and Ford Top Loader 4-speed trans rounding out the powertrain. Pete Eastwood built the chassis from original rails, and the original 1932 body was modified by Steve Davis before paint from John Carambia. Davis also created the aluminum lift-off top and hood, with Ron Covell creating the aluminum rolled rear pan. Ron Mangus made the green leather interior 25 years ago, and it’s holding up quite well for a car that has seen thousands of miles. The lightening-holed and nickel-plated components, made by Allen Jennings, are why this car has become notorious as the Nickel Roadster. Can a 25-year old car win the AMBR? It could happen.
“Stinger” 1932 Ford High Boy Roadster, Shawn Black, Hartselle, Alabama, 1932 Ford High Boy Roadster
A true home-build, done in Black’s home shop, the inspiration for this Deuce roadster is from friend Barry Lobeck. Black has built a number of 1932 Fords, and currently owns four. Black chose to use a 1963 Corvette theme for his build. What? He built a period-correct small block Chevy that mimics the 365hp ’63 327ci production engine, with a Duntov 30-30 cam. The interior stitching, gauges, shifter, steering wheel and even the color—Daytona Blue, are all 1963 Corvette. This roadster started with a Brookville body and Rootlieb hood. Adams Hot Rods in Georgia painted the blue metallic. Henry Richards at Steadfast Manufacturing in Ohio did the custom metal work. M&M Interiors in Holly Pond, Alabama, stitched the interior. The chassis is a SoCal chassis, with a unique feature being a rear spreader bar that is solid to give some extra weight and ballast for a smoother ride. Nice 2 1/2-inch stainless exhaust adds a bit of undercarriage sparkle. Magnum 5-inch dropped axle up front get’s it down with a mono-leaf spring. Black says, “The Barry Lobeck look is ingrained into every build I do.”
1931 Ford Roadster, David Martin, Santa Monica, California
Scott Bonowski at Hot Rods and Hobbies in Signal Hill, California, has been working on this roadster for years. Architect Martin has owned it for over 35 years. The roadster already has competed in the Silver State in Nevada—averaging 100mph. Martin and Bonowski built this car around how they could make it handle like an independent car, with the traditional beam axle and live rear. The 1932 Ford frame features torsion bars, V8 quick change with a triangulated 4-bar, and the front axle features a Steve Moal axle locator. Wheels are into the kingpin and spindles for better handling. Mark Lopez handled the interior chores. Gerome Rosella made the impressive headers. Engine finishes are like “race finish” so there is a minimum of chrome. Note the upholstery on the underside of the hood-a 1950s race car throwback. The headlight bar is tied into the frame and also supports the shocks, which are modified coil-over shocks. In all this is an impressive roadster that has been in pursuit of speed and handling.
John Leonte, San Jose, 1932 Ford Roadster
Built from ReproSteel roadster stampings out of Sweden, owner Leonte learned to weld on this car. Both chassis fab and constructing the body were successfully complete by John, who was learning on the fly. The almost 4-year build started with those body stampings and repro frame rails, which John had to add structure. He lengthened the wheelbase 5-inches ahead of the cowl to make sure he could fit the small block Chevy into the Deuce without having to hack into the original firewall. He was trying to get the look of Jerry Kugel’s stretched roadsters. One of the ways he tried to get the roadster as low as possible was to pie-cut the frame at the cowl—which results in a nasty rake to the overall profile. The front end is independent, as opposed to the traditional beam up front. The chassis came from TCI. The Dick Rodwell laid-back windshield gives it that extra sneaky look. With a 355ci Chevy long block he added a Clay Smith solid cam and lifters for over 460hp. 700R4 automatic trans with a Champ quickie rear rounds out the powertrain. Ron Mangus stitched the leather interior. John tells us he’s got 2000 miles on this roadster, having blitzed around the San Jose surrounds. Super rare Electrolyte 2200-series headlights give a unique look to the front. Jessie Cruz at Gary’s Rods and Restorations in Watsonville, California, did the paint. The roadster even features bluetooth for tunes and more.
Jason Anagnostis, Riverdale, New Jersey, 1932 Ford High Boy Roadster
Heavily pattered after the McGee roadster featured in Hot Rod Magazine in 1948, Jason went so far as to get the paint code for the McGee Deuce for color selection. The Brookville body sits on Shadow frame rails. The engine is a 1946 Ford flathead hooked to an S-10 trans, that goes back into an enclosed driveshaft. The rear end is a 1941 rear banjo without a quickie. It was built as if in the mid-1950s. Classy Chassis did the bodywork and paint. Welding up the frame and fabrication was handled by Jason’s group. He’s part owner of Por-15, the rust preventative guys. Offenhauser supplied all of their flathead components, with a set-back dual carb intake and heads. The dropped front axle is a heavy Deuce, with 1932 Ford split wishbones. A classic build that is meant to be driven for sure.
“Shangra-La” Custom Roadster, Rick Dore, Carlsbad, California
No stranger to TRJ, Rick’s custom bodied roadster is one in a series of French coachbuilt-inspired cars with bodies built by Marcel. This one is an aluminum body, which Rick designed with the edict to go without skirts. His previous collaborations with Marcel have all featured skirts, so this is a departure for Dore, and should be more within the wheelhouse of AMBR judges. Ron Cambers did the searing blue PPG paint, which Dore calls “Ink”, mixed by Paul Stone at the PPG paint center in Ontario, California. The removable top is painted in a warm silver with a pattern that mimics the 1957-58 Cadillac Biarritz hardtops with their stainless steel tops. That finish looks nearly identical to those iconic 1950s luxo-liners. The brass trim was fabb’d by Little Louie in Ontario, who has created other trim for Rick’s cars over the years. The windshield was created by Marcel’s in steel, then chrome plated. Powered by a 350ci Chevy, it is backed by a 700R4 automatic transmission and 9-inch Ford rear. Art Morrison created the chassis with independent front suspension incorporating coil-overs. Inside, Dennis Crooks made the steering wheel, while Ron Mangus stitched up the leather interior. This car incorporates a shorter wheelbase than his previous builds, and Rick says that with the light weight, shorter wheelbase, and Morrison chassis, he’s really enjoying the way this car handles.
Dan Hostetter, San Diego, California, Rod & Custom “The Roadster” Conceived By Joe Henning
In 1955 R&C staffer Joe Henning, who had an incredible bent for art and design, came up with what he called “The Roadster”. This was meant to be a contemporary-for-the-times take on the classic turtle-deck Model T roadster. Even the classic Model-T grille shell was part of the front end styling. Everyone expected clones and variations on Henning’s design, but nothing ever showed up. Fast forward to a few years ago, Dan decided it was time to try and build what Henning designed. He feels that the reason this was never duplicated was that there was “artistic license” built into the Henning design. The front end intruded into the hood sides enough that you couldn’t steer the wheels. Dan overcame this problem by making the hood sides retract upon impact with the front fenders. Also, the cockpit was too narrow for two people, so Dan had to cheat the width to allow the roadster to be more than a single seater. The body is made from fiberglass, and has been a seven-year project. From our 2018 perspective it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the ability to scale up a drawing, and pull it off, while keeping to the 1950s aesthetic, it’s a triumph over Mother Nature and the Devil. We applaud Dan for his honest tribute to those times, and a designer’s humble contribution to furthering the hot rod aesthetic from back when Deuce roadsters were a dime-a-dozen.
Ryan Earhart, Braunfels, Texas, 1932 Ford High Boy Roadster
Cruiser’s Customs in Braunfels, Texas, built this traditional Deuce high boy over two years. The Brookville body sits on a Kiwi Konnection chassis out of Bakersfield, California. SoCal Speed Shop front and rear brakes ride on a 5-inch front I-beam and 9-inch Ford rear. An Edelbrock 420hp crate 350 Chevy engine with throttle body injection powers the high boy, with Vintage Air air conditioning, a 4L60E automatic trans, and stainless exhaust. A Limeworks steering column and Stewart-Warner traditional gauges complement the Gabriel and Son Custom Interiors leather upholstery. From San Marcos, Texas, they created the dark blue leather interior that contrasts nicely with the silver/blue paint. That paint was done in-house with waterborne base and clear. From this example, a cleaner roadster build you won’t find anywhere, but in the heart of Texas you can find your Deuce dreams at Cruiser’s Customs.
“Elrod” 1936 Ford Roadster, Dana and Marge Elrod, Nebraska
From the Boesche Auto Body shop in Humphrey, Nebraska, comes this 1936 Ford roadster that has been modified in a multitude of subtle ways. From the 2 1/2-inch chopped and laid back windshield to the shortened body three-inches in the rear-quarters, this was an extensive build. The rear fenders are modified, sectioned 1936 sedan fenders, with a louvered rear pan tying into the fenders. The chassis by Boesche features a seven-inch kickup for the rear, with the 9-inch rear triangulated. It is spun by a first-gen 1958 Chrysler Hemi fed by fuel injection controlled by a Mega-Squirt computer. A Bowler 200R4 automatic completes the drivetrain. Ride-Tech Shockwaves smooth the corners, controlled by a Firestone Intelliride system. The Recovery Room stitched the Italian black leather, while Axalta black paint coats the roadster body. Kirk Bowman handled the polishing, with Industrial Plating in Omaha doing the nickel plating. This is s subtle, yet substantive reworking of Ford’s last true roadster, and it deserves closer scrutiny if you’re fortunate enough to attend the show this year.