My absolute favorite feature of early Hop Up Magazines is the rod tests. Essentially, the staff would find a deserving hot rod or custom and do a proper road test and review similar to how Road & Track would treat a piece on the new for 1952 Cadillac. And of all the tests that Hop Up managed to get done, number four (July 1952, Hop Up Magazine) is my favorite.
Bob Longman was away on active duty with the United States Navy when Hop Up called about featuring his channeled ’32 roadster. However, his good pal (none other than George Barris) was able to liberate the car from storage to enable the test. It was a treat for Hop Up as Bob’s roadster was the first “radical” hot rod they were able to get their hands on.
And because the roadster leaned more to the performance side rather than the cush, the Hop Up staff was able to consider the trade offs of managing such a car. For instance, Bob welded the deck lid shut on the car to add the rigidity of the package. While Hop Up felt they could certainly feel the benefits of the modification on the road, they were quick to mention that this necessitated the removal of the seat to get to the storage area. Or how about that gorgeous and full belly pan? The added aerodynamics allowed the roadster to run 120 mph on the salt and 101 mph at Santa Ana, but the loss in ground clearance made all put the slightest of road imperfections a challenge to manipulate.
Still, the biggest complaint that Hop Up offered up was the seating position. To battle the channel, Bob pushed the seat back as far as he could and lowered it a considerable amount. However, the large diameter Merc steering wheel just didn’t leave enough leg room and the test drivers had a hard time managing their knees around the late model steering wheel.
From a performance standpoint, however, the reviews were glowing. The 4.11 gears matched to the top loader and hopped up flathead was a combination unmatched by any late model powertrain. The steering was quick and positive, the juice brakes stopped the light little roadster with little effort, and well… the little car just hauled ass in all directions.
I think Hop Up closed out the review perfectly:
A clean looking roadster certainly attracts attention. Everywhere we went we fell under the admiring glances of people driving stock cars. It’s hard to tell whether they wish they could own a roadster, too, or are wondering how much money the owner has invested. It seems like the first thing people ask are “How fast does it go?” and “How much did it cost?”. Invariably when the cost is told the person asking thoughtfully shakes his head and says “Boy, I would rather have a Cadillac.” At this point all I can say is, “to each his own.”
Well said Mr. Hop Up.