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Projects 11 Weeks: The Bass '32 Roadster Version 1.0

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Bass, Jun 18, 2015.

  1. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    I was going to title this thread "11 Weeks to Glory", which is sort of a play on the "13 Days to Glory" and the siege on the Alamo. But to be honest, this car is not all that glorious. My roadster in its current state isn't meant to be a "nice" car. It's meant to be a driver...a beater...or just a plain old down and dirty traditional hot rod. You know, a car that I can have some fun with...that just happens to be a real deal '32 Ford Roadster.

    This story starts back in June of last year (2014), almost exactly a year ago from the time that I'm now writing. I had just assembled a '32 Tudor Sedan into a rolling project car, and I took it out to the LA Roadster Show swap meet with the intention of selling it there. The idea was to use the funds from the sale to dump some money into my '41 Willys project. Well, it didn't sell. So I drug it all the way back home to Dallas.

    I think it was the next day back that I received a private message right here on the HAMB, from Flip "Deadfast 33". The content of that message basically laid out an idea to trade the complete, titled rolling chassis under the '32 Tudor for his roadster body. I had to ask to make doubly sure that I was on the same page...was this the '32 Roadster body that he had scored not all that long ago?

    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/need-help-with-history-bay-area-32-roadster.865305/

    Indeed it was. There are photos on that link, but I'll save you some trouble and post a couple.

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    Logistically, this was not an easy deal for me to make, seeing as how I had just pulled a trailer to California and back only days before this idea came about. But it was a real '32 roadster body. I've wanted a '32 roadster my whole life. It had been a channeled car for a very long time, and there was no floor or subrails, but Flip had a lot of floor parts that he would let go with the body, as well as the hood, grille, chrome front end, and a few other misc. parts.

    From these photos, you can see that there wasn't a lot there, but I felt that there was still enough to make it a car again.

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    I didn't have to think about it for very long.

    I was already planning on going to Bonneville in August, so I made plans to trailer the chassis out to Flip and come home with the roadster body, on the way to Speedweek. It wasn't exactly "on the way", I guess...but that's what made the most sense at the time.

    I sold the body from the Sedan to my good friend George, so that took care of the rest of the car. Then shortly after Flip and I made an agreement, I got a call from a friend looking for a running/driving roadster. I mentioned that I was getting a '32 and was considering selling my '29 Roadster. I put a price on it, and that was it...it was gone.

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    I loved my '29 Roadster, and selling it was an agonizing decision for me. I knew that I had to raise some more money to put into the Willys though, and the timing just seemed to work out for selling the old roadster.

    A few more hot July weeks went by, and it was finally time to go get the roadster. I drove out to Watsonville, CA to Flip's house and did the swap. You can see the '32 chassis in the background.

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    I spent the night in Santa Cruz.

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    Speedweek was rained out, so I went straight back home from Wendover.

    Once I was back home, I had no time to work on the new roadster...so I stashed it in the corner of the shop for safe keeping. It would sit in that same spot, untouched, for about 9 months.

    In the meantime, I searched for any history of the car that I could find. No one seemed to remember it. By a stroke of luck, Flip ended up finding photos of the car from when it was last running and driving, in 1981, so I at least had some old photos to go by.

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    Much later, I would find out that Rod Weltz of San Francisco had rebuilt the car into its last form before selling it to a nice couple that kept the car up until recently. I was able to contact Rod through the help of Marcus Edell, and Rod was nice enough to send me photos of how it looked when he bought it, in about 1979 or 80. I was surprised to see that the car not only had a Red Ram Hemi installed in it at that time, but it also had a '55 Dodge dash!

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    Any history prior to this is still unknown, so if you can help, please get in touch with me. I found a 1947 Los Angeles newspaper in the driver's door, so I think it has been a hot rod since the '40s. I don't know when it was channeled, or when it came to San Francisco, but I think it was redone in about 1968, and stayed in that form until Rod bought it.

    WEEK 1

    Fast forward to March of this year. Actually, it was Saint Patrick's Day, if I'm remembering correctly. I was having lunch with a friend, and he asked what I was going to take to the Lonestar Roundup, which was exactly a month a way (starting on April 17th). The project that I had been working on with hopes of a debut at the show was looking like it wasn't going to make it, no matter how hard I worked, or how many hours I put in. This was disheartening, because I really wanted to bring something new to the show. Thinking out loud, I said "you know, I think I have almost everything I need to throw my roadster together...maybe I should bring it." The more we talked about it, the more feasible it started to sound. And we weren't even drinking.

    The style of the car would be something similar to the Price/Hellmuth roadster. I'd be able to keep as much of the candy red paint on the body as possible, and end up with a car that would be early-mid '50s style.

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    I came up with a plan to basically build a "bolt together" hot rod '32 roadster. Something I wouldn't have to spend a whole lot of time fabricating pieces and parts for. A basic traditional hot rod. This meant a good original '32 frame, a flathead, a '39 transmission, a '40 rear, dropped axle, unsplit wishbone, stock firewall, etc. I'd already been collecting all of those parts for my '32 5-window (that still isn't built), and most of the parts I had multiples of. This illustration of the McGee Roadster from Hot Rod Magazine is pretty close to what I envisioned.

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    If I played my cards right, I could have a roadster that would look good both with and without fenders.

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    The biggest question mark was the engine. There was no way that I would have time to either rebuild or find another engine and still make it to the Roundup. I had two flatheads set aside in my shop, and both were supposed to be good engines...but I hadn't torn down either of them. The flathead that I really wanted to use was a '46 Ford/Merc 59L that I had bought several years ago from my friend Ricky.

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    It was pretty much complete and "ran when parked." We've all heard that story before, so I was expecting the worst. But when I started cracking it open to check condition, I was blown away by how nice and clean it was inside. I took a wire brush and knocked off the carbon, and I was shocked to see that it was STD bore as well. And even better still, this was a factory relieved block.

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    I took this as a good omen...a sign that I should go forward with the idea that I could just bolt the thing together and get it to the show.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
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  2. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    I'd been saving this '39 transmission that I had chromed and rebuilt back when I started building my '29 roadster. I didn't use it in that car, but it seemed like a perfect fit for my '32.

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    Before long, I had the frame taken down from off of my shop wall, and mocked up. The frame was a pretty nice piece, but the front crossmember was only hastily bolted in. So I replaced it with a '32 front crossmember with a Model A center section spliced in. The chassis formula was super simple. I shortened a '40 torque tube, and used '46-48 rear radius rods.

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    While I had the torque tube apart, I welded in a retainer to hold a lip seal that would ride on the driveshaft or coupler.

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    From there it was time to bolt it all up and see what I had.

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    I enlisted the help of some friends to come help me set the body over the subrails so that I could see how difficult it was going to be to put the body back together. And then of course, I couldn't resist mocking up some fenders and a hood.

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    WEEK 2

    Once I had it all mocked up, the real work could begin. The fenders I was planning to use had come off of my friend Don Lofton's '32 Roadster that he drove from Southern California to Dallas in 1969. They were in pretty decent overall shape, except the passenger side rear fender had been stored outside, and had rusted out at the bottom. I had a beat up Sedan fender that had a good bottom, so I used it to replace the bottom of the roadster fender.

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    I did a little work on both the front and rear fenders, and shot them in a coat of DP epoxy primer.

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    I thought that it was already starting to look really good, and I was excited that I was able to get to this point so quickly. The new Edelbrock heads that I ordered had also come in, and I'd just mocked one of them up in the previous photo.

    The next morning I spent a couple of hours deciding on headlights, and I landed on King Bees mounted on a chromed original 4-cyl headlight bar.

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    The dash that came with the car was fiberglass, and of course I wanted to change it. I put out the word that I was looking for an original dash, and John Joyo from Austin Speed Shop graciously sold me the one he didn't use in his roadster.

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    I filled the gaping hole in the middle, and metalfinished it in preparation for what was to come next.

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    As I was laying out where I needed to cut the dash for the gauges, I stopped and wondered if it was just a little obnoxious to run 10 curved glass Stewart Warners in a single '32 dash. Then I said "screw it", and did it anyway.

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    There are several years worth of gauge collecting represented in that dash.

    WEEK 3

    I had a pretty good firewall set aside for this car, but it did need some work. There was a really bad patch in one spot that I just had to cut out and replace.

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    After metal finishing the firewall, I put it in DP epoxy primer. I didn't use any filler on it...because as I had to keep reminding myself...I wasn't building a show car.

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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
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  3. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    I also filled and peaked an original '32 grille shell for the car. The shell that came with the roadster just needed too much work to get it back to where I needed it. So it was better to start with a different one.

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    Now that I had the grille, firewall, and headlights ready to paint, I had to figure out how I was going to match the candy on the body. Fortunately, there was a spot on the inside of the driver's door that I could use to match the base color. I mixed up a color that I felt was close enough, and then took that to the paint store to have it matched.

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    I sprayed the headlights first as a test panel.

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    They matched pretty well, but the color on the body was a little faded. And on top of that, it was lacquer...and nearly impossible to match. I liked the color that I sprayed, so I just went with it.

    A little later, I had the firewall and grille shell both in paint. They came out really well, and I was starting to wonder if I had made them "too nice" for the rest of the car.

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    With those pieces painted, and time already running very short, I needed to get the patch panels and floor in the car ASAP. I pulled the fenders off and got everything ready.

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    Then it was all assholes and elbows.

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    In two very long days, I had put all the necessary patches in the car, as well as the new subrails, and new rear floor.

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    Standing back and looking at it, I felt pretty good about how the car was coming along.

    Before I could go any further, I had to brace up the body and build a seat. I first made the body bracing out of 1" tubing and built in an integral battery mount.

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    Then I made a seat pan.

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    Test fitting it to make sure I like where it's heading.

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    I then cut the seat bases out of Luan plywood. (It actually was an Ikea craft table that we didn't use at my house anymore, but the top was a nice piece of Luan plywood.)

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    To get the "roadster roll" on top of the seat back, I removed the tack strip, and used the existing holes to mount a strip of 5/16" Luan plywood. This was nailed to the seat back, and bolted to T-nuts through the body. I also made sheetmetal corners to reinforce that area.

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    Then I 'glassed it all together.

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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
  4. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

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    After it had cured overnight, I scuffed it up in prep for foam, and cut the "butt holes" in the bases for the furniture webbing.

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    Here's the finished seat pan also.

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    The seat then went to the upholsterer, who assured me he could get the seat done in a week.

    WEEK 4

    I then pulled the body and started getting the exhaust built. I started with a set of cheapo Speedway headers, but they were going to run smack dab into the steering box on the driver's side. I ended up cutting them apart and rebuilding everything from the front primary back.

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    The passenger side was a little more straightforward. All I had to do was get it to clear the K-member. I cut up two '35-36 Ford driveshafts to make the lakes style headers, and made a pair of 4-bolt square flanges for the ends. Eventually these will be capped up, and then exhaust will run all the way out the back. I was so short on time, that I decided to save that part for later.

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    Exhaust finished (for now), engine out and painted, and I need to get some paint on the frame. Since I was starting with a pretty nice original frame, I decided I was just going to prep, seal, and paint. Sure there were a few pits and imperfections, but again...I wasn't trying to build a show car. I sanded the frame with a D/A, cleaned it really well, epoxy primed it, sealed it, and then painted it.

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    Much to my surprise, it came out really well!

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    I let it dry overnight, and started assembly the next day.

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    I waited until I had the engine and trans mounted in the chassis before I changed the cam and lifters in the flathead. I used an old Engle cam that I bought at the LA Roadsters swap meet. The old timer that sold me the cam said it was the "same as a 400jr". New Johnson adjustable lifters went in along with the cam and an aluminum timing gear. The rest of the valve train is stock '46 Ford.

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    Over the next few days I ran the brake lines and fuel line, and got the chassis ready for the body. The Tuesday before the show, I was pretty much drained and exhausted...but I kept pushing.

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    Remember how I said the upholster promised that he could have my seat ready in a week? Well, after 10 days went by, I still didn't have a seat. On Wednesday, he said he wasn't going to be able to get it done, and in fact hadn't started on it yet. He brought my bases and materials back, and I made a few distress calls. Emilio of Emilio and Sons Upholstery from Pleasant Grove came to my rescue and foamed up the seat in my shop in a matter of hours as I continued to work.

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    So here's where I was at dark on Wednesday night. Body on, and bolted down...but I had to do something about that gold stripe. I never liked it, and it had to go.

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    George helped me out by assisting me in getting the car taped and scuffed. I made a last minute decision to spray the sides of the body since I had to put some paint on the wheelwells anyway. I back-taped the patch panels because they still needed bodywork, and I thought it might make that easier later. I didn't really have time to think about it, so I just did it.

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    A few hours later, and we had a car that was pretty much all one color. Much better!

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    We also painted the front fenders, and started painting the rear fenders when we ran out of candy. So I just accepted the fact that the car would be a highboy for now.

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    Thursday came and went really quickly. At about 10pm, I made the decision that I wasn't going to fire the car that night, and I spent the next two hours just trying to make it as presentable as possible. At midnight, we rolled the car outside as Emilio was dropping off the seat.

    Friday morning at sunrise, I bolted the seat in.

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    And here's how the car looked for the trip to Austin.

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    I didn't get nearly as far as I wanted to on the car, but considering how little time I actually spent, I felt pretty good about it. And I knew once the show was over and the car was back home, I could just tinker with it here and there to get it driveable while working on other projects.

    The show went pretty well. I was surprised by the positive response that the car received, and it made me feel better about running the car without fenders for a while.

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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
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  5. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    WEEKS 5 - 10

    Progress was going to be slow going over the next few weeks since I was playing catch-up in the shop. The first couple of things I knew I had to do to get the roadster driveable were to mount the coil and voltage regulator.

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    Then I made new fuel lines.

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    Since I knew that I wasn't going to have time to get the fenders on it before the car was driving, I decided to throw together a headlight bar using the original fender brace holes on the side of the frame. I made the lower part of the bar first.

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    Then I used a Model A headlight bar to construct the rest.

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    I mounted the headlights higher than I normally would, because I wanted to make the car as early '50s period correct as possible. The headlight laws were being strictly enforced then, and I used cars like the Walker Morrison and Nitti roadsters to determine where I should mount the headlights.

    Next I needed an oil filter. I had this NOS Allstate oil filter that I'd been saving, and this seemed like a good time to use it. I made a bracket to bolt it to some of the original holes in the firewall.

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    I made new floorboards out of birch, and hammered out a trans tunnel.

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    WEEK 11

    My goal was to have the car to where I could drive it by my birthday on June 2nd. Exactly 11 weeks from when I decided to throw it together. To accomplish this goal, there were still a few things that had to be completed.

    Before I painted the gas tank, I had to work on the holes to get it to fit the original frame. I also welded up the extra holes in the Vintique tank with silicon bronze to make it look more like an original.

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    I'd planned on running a full hood, combining the 4" louvered hood tops that came with the car with a set of original 20-louver sides. Here are the hood tops in primer and mocked up.

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    Next, I painted the gas tank and hood.

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    The taillights I wanted to use are a bit unusual, and I've been hanging onto these for a while. They are '42 Buick "black-out" taillights, meaning that they only came on the no chrome, black-out Buick in 1942. There is a '46-48 Buick taillight in the foreground for comparison.

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    I had the bezels chromed.

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    After mounting and hooking up the gas tank, all I had left was to wire the lights, and to mount the original Hollywood license plate light.

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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
  6. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    At about 6pm on June 2nd, I celebrated my 38th birthday by driving the car to 7-11 to put some gas in it.

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    I went back by the shop to check for leaks, and stuck the hubcaps on it. Then I drove it down the street and stopped to take these photos in front of an old firehouse.

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    The flathead runs really good. It revs up quickly with the Albro aluminum flywheel. The cam sounds fantastic. It doesn't smoke, and doesn't get hot. I just got lucky, I guess.

    I used 3.54:1 Lincoln gears in the rear, and the car really does well on the highway. The '37 Hudson steering box works good, and the leather seat is really comfortable. The Roto-flo shocks are starting to break-in, and the car seems to be riding better as everything takes a set.

    I made a pair of simple aluminum brackets to hold the rear hood latches, and got the hood on it a day or so later.

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    Plans for the near future are to touch up the bare spots on the body, chrome a bunch of stuff, convert the rumble seat to a trunk lid, swap out the windshield for clear glass, and put in a full interior, among other things. I entered the car in the Hot Rod Hillclimb in Colorado, and the Race of Gentleman in New Jersey...both of which were big motivating factors in the decision to get this car on the road this year.

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    Like the title of this thread says, I consider this to be "Version 1.0" of my roadster. As time goes on, I plan to make it better and better until it really is a "nice" car. The foundation has been laid, so it's primarily the cosmetics that I need to concentrate on. I'm really enjoying driving the car as-is for now, and I'm definitely looking forward to taking it up the hill and on the beach later this year. I still plan on mounting up the fenders later, but I want to do those two big events first. I'll try to update this thread as I upgrade the car. In the meantime, thanks for looking and feel free to ask questions if there's anything I missed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
  7. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 3,910

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    Sounds like a great thrash! Flip's a great guy, love his 33. I like your way of building.You achieved your dream, Congrats, will ck back for the pix. ;).
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
    volvobrynk likes this.
  8. Thanks for takin' time for a nice write-up. Good to see someone take a genuine interest in a good '32 and not just try to flip it for a dollar. Nice hot rod man, been seein' it on IG. Enjoy it, part o' your family now!
     
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  9. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 25,544

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Great story and one great looking car and you even had the photos up by the time I found the "we need photos" thingie.
    08:14 pacific time
    Whoo hoo more photos showed up after I made the post. Wow is all I have to say.
    I sure like the way you did the exhaust rather than just doing another set of "me too" meg style headers. That really adds some class to the car.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
  10. HelmuthBrothers
    Joined: Oct 11, 2007
    Posts: 716

    HelmuthBrothers
    Member
    from New Jersey

    You're doing a hell of a job with what seems be to a rushed process. Wish I had half the inventory you have!
     
  11. Caddy-O
    Joined: Aug 8, 2006
    Posts: 1,645

    Caddy-O
    Member

  12. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    It looks better in photos than it actually is. I guess you'd just need to see it in person, but it's far from perfect.
     
  13. JJK
    Joined: Feb 9, 2005
    Posts: 840

    JJK
    Member

    Incredibly inspiring build , such a great looking car.
     
  14. bowie
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 2,036

    bowie
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    All the right parts, in all the right places. What a beaut! Nice work.
     
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  15. pumpman
    Joined: Dec 6, 2010
    Posts: 2,524

    pumpman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Very nice job man, love the candy color.
     
  16. ynottayblock
    Joined: Dec 23, 2005
    Posts: 1,954

    ynottayblock
    Member

    I always enjoy your builds. Thanks for sharing. You hit a homerun, as you always do.
     
  17. Fogger
    Joined: Aug 18, 2007
    Posts: 1,389

    Fogger
    Member

    Don't bring it to the LARS if you want to keep it, someone will make you an offer you won't refuse. Great job and look forward to your continued progress. Great job!!!!!
     
    Bass likes this.
  18. Dude. You are the most beautifullest man on this planet. Yeah I know it ain't really a word, but damn if I'm not jones-ing for what the driver's seat feels like. Holy sh#t YOU'RE THE KING. Beautiful is what it is.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2015
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  19. Very cool Brian, I can't wait to see it in Colorado
     
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  20. Dick Stevens
    Joined: Aug 7, 2012
    Posts: 2,594

    Dick Stevens
    Member

    Looks like a damn nice hotrod right now. Can't wait to see it evolve into, what you call "nice" car.
     
  21. 3wLarry
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 12,804

    3wLarry
    Member Emeritus
    from Owasso, Ok

  22. Kan Kustom
    Joined: Jul 20, 2009
    Posts: 2,298

    Kan Kustom
    Member

  23. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 9,813

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    That looks really nice Brian. I plan to be in Texas for a while this summer and we will be primarily in the Dallas area.
    I wouldn't mind stopping by your shop while I'm in the area.
    Larry.
     
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  24. KFC
    Joined: Jul 17, 2008
    Posts: 369

    KFC
    Member
    from UK

    I've been following this on Instagram, it's a lovely car, sits just right
     
  25. jalopykid
    Joined: Nov 13, 2006
    Posts: 1,182

    jalopykid
    Member
    from Bozeman,MT

    Looks awesome Brain. Can't wait to do a similar thrash on my tub.
     
  26. Swede64
    Joined: Jun 17, 2006
    Posts: 202

    Swede64
    Member

    Great build and thanks for taking the time to put it up here on the HAMB. Read all of it nonstop, time well spent.
     
  27. HRS
    Joined: Nov 7, 2008
    Posts: 361

    HRS
    Member

    Well..that was easy....
     
  28. So cool on so many levels! At this point are you planning on driving it to Colorado and New Jersey???
     
  29. wingedexpress
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 894

    wingedexpress

    That is an awesome car and color, even better with the fenders on.
     
  30. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 25,918

    The37Kid
    Member

    Great looking car, thanks for photos and build details, I've missed your posts here on the HAMB. Bob
     

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