"Old Fords never die" 1932 Ford Hot Rod
They say old Fords never die. Well, this one has certainly been resurrected more than once. When you’ve worked around vehicles all your life and own a business dedicated to accident repairs, it can be difficult to find time to work on your personal car, let alone completely restore one from the ground up. But when your desire’s strong enough, you find a way.
Steve Willsone of C&D Services (UK) Ltd in Basildon had always wanted a hot rod and finally took the plunge three years ago. “When I was 17 years old, I began training as a panel beater,” explains Steve. “I was taught the traditional methods, using an English wheel, beating out dents over sandbags and even learned lead loading joins and metal finishing. I was always into hot rods. When I first met my wife Julie, our first date was a visit to the Chelsea Cruise.” Despite that, this 1932 Ford three-window coupe is the first rod he’s owned. “It was definitely becoming time to buy one,” continues Steve. “I love Ford Pops and they were my dream car until I saw this ’32 for sale. I’d been looking for a black car, then it suddenly dawned on me we could repaint whatever I bought any colour I fancied. I originally wanted to build a car from scratch, but by the time I’d costed that I then realised it might be better to buy one I liked and then recondition it if necessary.” According to a feature on this Deuce in the October 1999 issue of Custom Car, the coupe was built in London then bought in 1998 by a hot rodder called Nikki Clarke. She found it to be in quite tired condition and had it rebuilt to be her daily driver. The Oldsmobile engine it had fitted was replaced with a brand new crate Chevy with triple carbs, the car was reupholstered, got new suspension and a repaint in a shade of BMW Yellow. At this point, I could just cut and paste the last paragraph since that’s virtually the same work present owner Steve did when he got his hands on the ’32.“I bought it in 2017 in Lincolnshire from a guy called Chris,” explains Steve, “who emailed me lots of photos and a full description. I went up with the money and trailered it home. It’s a fibreglass body with a metal frame inside, all the other panels such as the wings, Rootleib bonnet and the grille shell are steel. We showed it for a couple of years then when the show season ended in 2018, we stripped the coupe down for a body-off rebuild. “Being almost 30 years old then, it was naturally getting a bit tired in places.”
1932 Ford Hot Rod before dismantling
Update and backdate. “The chrome plater I was using let me down so I ended up buying all new parts from John at Homegrown Hot Rods (01702 524610/ www.homegrownhotrods.co.uk) and also a fair number of bits from Customville (0208 590 1449/www.customville-american.co.uk) too – between them they supplied virtually everything for the build. It had a four-bar linkage front end fitted, but we changed that to the classic hairpins look. It has Corvette disc brakes on the front and a fully chromed and drilled front axle. Out back is a Volvo 240 axle with Volvo disc brakes which is not only strong, but looks suitably period too.” The coupe retains that crate motor we mentioned, a 350cu in Chevy V8 with a TH350 gearbox behind. “It was originally a column shift, but we swapped it for a floor shifter when we put in a traditional-style steering column.” In spite of the various Edelbrock parts such as the air cleaner and valve covers, there’s actually a Weber carburettor fitted. The headers are stainless steel and join to a Pipecraft exhaust (Pipecraft, Unit 23, Orion Court Cranes Farm Rd, Basildon SS14 3DB, 01268 285535). “Ian Card is my panel beater,” says Steve. “I owe so much to him since he was with me all the way through the rebuild and was a very big part of it, as was Nick Hodder, my painter, who put on the two coats of Ford yellow − don’t ask me which one − and three of lacquer. It’s a similar shade to the previous paint. I wanted a high-quality build, so I made a roller mounting for the body so Nick could paint it just as nicely underneath; it’s just as shiny top and bottom. I’m really proud of how clean the underside is. “Jay Pressler of Auto Electric Diagnostics (07908 388718/www.autoelectricdiagnostics. co.uk) helped me do the full rewire and to hide the wiring as much as possible, especially to the headlights and front indicators. The original indicator wiring had been run through braided shower hose − which was the way everyone did it back then… We also relocated the battery from the boot to behind the seat.
Original triple carbs motor
Labour of love.“It was a labour of love,” admits Steve. “I can now completely understand why you see cars sold as unfinished projects. Although this was a finished, built and running car we were starting with, it still threw up problems. After it was painted, one door took us five hours to gap and realign. In all, we spent three weekends getting all the panels on properly and had problems with the bonnet too – it was very testing. We’d taken apart a complete, running and driving car and when it was back together, the engine was pinking and misfiring. In the end it went to Atspeed Racing (01268 773377/www. atspeedracing.co.uk) where it was dyno’d, tuned on their rolling road and the carb re-jetted, which solved all the issues. We took it off the road in October 2018 and the rebuild took seven months. When it was done, it was good enough to show parked on top of mirrors, like I’d seen my friend Roland Bunn do with his Ford Pop. “Because this is my first time owning and building a hot rod, I was really surprised just how many parts were available. I’ve met a lot of really great people through having it, and throughout the rebuild no one I spoke to ever said no they couldn’t do something. I’m grateful to them all. Everyone has a mate called Dave and I should thank mine − Dave Sharp – for all his valuable outside input. The real thanks are to my wife Julie who supported my spending and no doubt enjoyed her quiet, peaceful weekends when I was in the garage.
1932 Ford Hot Rod