The B.B. Cabriolet

The B.B. Cabriolet

In early 2014, Bryan Bobrosky parked in a driveway belonging to an 88-year old retired auto shop teacher. At the other end of the driveway sat a modest garage. And in that garage sat something we all hope to find one day – an untouched 1932 Ford hot rod originally built in the 1940’s.

The retired shop teacher, Roger Burke, bought the car in Temple City, CA. He paid $450 on February 6, 1950. On his 300 mile drive home, he noted a few deficiencies – the front tires were worn, reverse wouldn’t engage, both “door springs” were broken, and the motor used a considerable amount of oil. So, four days later he dropped the car off at a local shop and had each matter tended too. He bought a Zephyr gear cluster for $19.51, had the tranny rebuilt, had a new clutch installed, and had a new oil pan with gaskets thrown on as well. Oh, and he got a new set of 5.50–16 tires for the front.

Ten days later he ran over a nail and punctured his new driver’s side front because, well… That’s just the way hot rodding works. Undeterred, Roger pressed on and a month later, he dropped the car off at Blair’s Auto Parts to have the little flathead gone through. Blair took his damned time and Roger didn’t get the car back until June, but his oiling issues were over and somewhat amazingly, his gas mileage improved from 12mpg to over 14.

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I could keep going… Roger kept records like this from the time he bought the car until around 1989. Every little detail was lovingly recorded in a journal almost as if he knew some nerd like me would obsess over every entry some sixty four years later. Go ahead, take a look:

Such consistent and persistent note keeping is beautiful, isn’t it? It doesn’t stop there. Roger kept copies of the check he bought the car with, invoices from speed shops, tickets from aspiring cops, and anything and everything that had to do with the car’s life. Literally loads of paper that represent the love that he had for the little hot rod. Here’s another small sample:

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But lets get back to Bryan and that driveway… One can only imagine the anxiety he felt as Roger opened up that little garage of his and I would imagine that there aren’t words to describe the emotions that went through Bryan as he realized that he was the one to be trusted as the car’s next caregiver. In hot rodding, few moments are as special. This is the story we all want. This is the story we all dream about. The perfect car with perfect history.

Bryan trailered the car home figuring its long dormancy (it had been in storage since 1989) would lead to a lengthy rebuild. After a day of tinkering, however, the car fired up and drove down Bryan’s own driveway. He’s been grinning ever since…

The car, of course, has gone through some changes through the years. If you’re like me, you probably read about each in Roger’s journal posted above. In the 1960’s, Roger finally gave up on the flathead and had a ’56 Chevrolet mill installed. Later, he went to a 283 out of a ’57 year model. That motor is still in the car. It’s backed by a side shift Ford tranny, a torque tube, and a banjo rear.

Buggy springs around. Juice brakes with Lincoln drums at the corners. An early Mor-Drop axle up front. Guides for light. Stewart Warners for monitoring. The list is as consistent to traditional hot rodding as Roger’s note taking skills. All the right stuff is there.

And then there’s the elephant in the room. The car is not a roadster, but a cabriolet. To some, this might be the one chink in the car’s shiny armor, but not to me. In fact, it’s this car that originally turned me on to cabriolets about a year ago and ever since, I’ve been contemplating Ford’s oddity for ’32. I’ve grown to love the ’32 cabriolet and have Roger and Bryan to thank for it.

In my studies, I’ve found that the main ingredient to making a cabriolet of appropriate proportions revolves around the top chop and the angle at which the a-pillars are planted. I’ve found that I enjoy cabriolets the most when heavily hammered with a-pillars leaned back to match. The Burke/Bobroski (B.B. from now on dammit!) cabriolet, however, is only chopped a mere 2.5″ – maybe even less to my eyes. The a-pillars don’t look to be fooled with at all. And yet, it’s still amongst my favorite examples. I’m not sure why this car can get away with such a mild chop, but it does so handsomely. Just look at the front 3/4 shot below. That’s it man – That’s the look.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. Your eyes are probably weary from reading all of Roger’s journal entries along with my own accompanying literary trash. Thankfully, I’ve got a reprieve for you. Feast your tired on these wonderful shots from Michael Harrington. You’ll be glad you did.

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