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Projects 1932 Cabriolet - The 'FlatCab' - A Real 'Barn Find' for Once

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Bored&Stroked, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. Part 1 'The Car': Barn Find My Ass . . . But, Where Did the 32 FlatCab Come From?

    Fricking Barn Finds . . . . Blah, Blah, Blah - I was sick and tired of hearing about them and even more tired of all the years I had a "hot lead" on a car that turned out to be complete bullshit. I bet every one of you has done the same - holding out glimmers of hope that "some day", you'll be "that guy" . . . not ever going to happen to this kid . . .

    You always hear about 'I know this guy who found a mint 32 roadster in a barn' - you never get to actually meet him and the stories are always too good to be true, most are HotRod Urban Legends . . . or they happened 50 years ago. Big stories, over told, embellished and re-told . . . BS most of them.

    Well - Things Happen and The Big Car Guy Stuck This in my Craw!

    Forward: I didn't pen this before - due to The Rodder's Journal doing a 1-pager on the car. Steve , Curt and Geoff are great guys at TRJ, didn't think it was right to publish pictures or a story before they went to print. For any TRJ fans, it is in issue 62 (latest), page 8. I thank them for taking the time and making the effort to show the car in it's "as found" state - they are a class act all the way. Thought the story was cool and unique enough for them to tell - and they did.

    The Long-Winded Story - Late Last August, 08/27 - Tuesday Evening (Hey, it is how I write - lots of extraneous babble!):

    I'd just gotten back from Bonneville with the FlatCad crew and was sick and tired of cars - all of them, just had enough of hot-rodding, needed a mental break. I didn't want to even think about cars for a few months . . .

    So, my friend Chris Daniels - here in Columbus - calls me on a Tuesday in late August and says "Hey, a buddy called up and told me about a real estate auction for an old house - and there is a 32 that is being auctioned as well.". I'm thinking bull shit . . . but Chris is a stand up dude - he and I are close and he wouldn't waste his or my time on it . . . so now I'm curious.

    Hugh? Who the hell auctions a 32 Ford with a fricking house - on a Thursday after work? Especially an old dilapidated house in an area of town that had seen better days? I mean really - in my town . . . just a car ride away?

    Chris sends me a link - here is the listing/pictures of what I saw:




    Hell - have to go check this out - a 32 Cabriolet, not a roadster, but a close second in my mind. The pictures showed a really complete car, fenders, all the parts, the whole schebang . . . just sitting there.

    But Wait, Reality Check: Now I have NO PLANS to buy any damn 32's - I'm up to my ass in too many projects and the last thing I need is another one . . . but hey, a Real Estate Auction and a 32 Cab? :cool: I don't need to buy or spend $$$ on anything like this - but if the story is true, when will I have a chance in my lifetime to MAYBE have a shot at something like this? . . . probably never . . . WTF, just a car ride away . . .

    Thursday Evening - Hot August Night, About 6:00 or So:

    I head down to the South West part of town - can't believe I'm less than 30 minutes from my home. I roll into the neighborhood - kind of a working-class area, houses all built in the 30's - some upgraded, some in bad shape.

    I hook-up with Chris and he and I walk to the house (of course thinking that there won't be many 32 guys there - WRONG!). There are people everywhere - guys with car trailers, guys on their cell phones talking to their 'buyers' . . . a frigging zoo. I'm sure about 95% of them hope/pray that there are going to be "just a few guys there for the 32" (us included) - the word had gotten out . . . and the hotrod boys had assembled!

    Who Wants to Bid on a House - A Real Fixer Upper ???: I figure there were about 5 folks there to bid on the house and about 75 car guys thinking "today is the day I might get a 32 on the cheap!". (Probably not).

    Welcome to the Neighborhood - Who Wants a House? The house is in pretty bad shape - didn't even have renters in it for the last 8 months - moldy, smelly, most likely a complete 'tear down' at best. Nobody can see the car yet - as the ancient wooden garage out back (built in 1932 - wouldn't yah know it) - was boarded up. The auctioneer (real estate guy) comes and takes the plywood panels off the garage and lets us all go in.

    We're a bunch of damn sharks - all waiting for a tasty 32 meal - let us in, let us in, me first, get back, where is it? . . . let us experience a barn find you bastard!

    Sex on Blocks: I'm one of the first in . . . I felt like I was walking into King the Fuck Tut's tomb! (Whups, did I just say that?) Holy Crap - this thing is pure vintage 32 sex on blocks - can't believe my eyes! Everybody was just milling about, mumbling to their friends, pondering the soon to be held auction, calling their friends, texting pictures, etc..


    It was like walking into one man's museum from the 1940's. The car belonged to the Grandfather of the owner of the house/property. The car had been up on blocks since 1959 and the grandson had never seen it move. Everything in the garage was how it had been left . . . pin-up pictures from WWII, all the old tools. Was like Grandpa parked his simple 'hotrod', put it up on blocks and closed the damn doors.

    Nobody screw with Grandpa's car - he wouldn't like that!


    What was totally surprising was the condition of the car, fenders, everything - nothing touched, just sitting there. We had a whole crew of guys looking at this thing with a combination of envy, lust, admiration and awe. Lots of 'texting' is happening now . . . guys talking to their buddies with the money, you know the drill.

    Hushed conversations, guys on their phones on the side, mumbling . . .

    "How much do you think it will go for . . . I heard of one like this sell for $35 thousand recently, WAY too much money - Naw, they're worth that these days, you know blah just bought one over in BF for $36,000 . . ."

    blah, blah, blah . . .

    This was not a big dollar hotrod, it was a stock car with a few 'upgrades' the guy could afford. Had an early 59x flathead, 16" bent spoke wire wheels and trim rings, 34 lights -- was still running the stock heavy axle and mechanical brakes. The seats had been covered in shitty vinyl, but the top still looked good (no rips, tears). The tires told the story of WWII - down to the cords . . . no rubber available during the war.

    All the parts were there (he'd taken the fenders, running boards off and stored them in the rafters. Not a dent in the fenders - mint stuff).

    I checked out the inside of the driver's door - had an oil change sticker from 1957 - 5800 miles on it. The car looked like the odometer was correct - not like that really matters, but the condition was exceptional for that old of a car. A little bit of crude bodywork in the quarters - the rest was perfect.

    You hear of these 'barn find' stories - but who ever gets to see/participate in a REAL one? Not me - at 55 years old, never seen anything like this.





    Okay - we'll get to the auction in the next post (tonight) . . . stay tuned . . .

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
    40 Ford Tudor and HEMI32 like this.
  2. neds29
    Joined: Dec 25, 2013
    Posts: 15


    Wait a minute, WW2? The license plate is 1959, a few years after that war and the following one too. I'm sure we're all watching for the auction results.
  3. rottenpop
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 592

    from Holbeach

    Great story, well written.
    Chapter 2 please.

    Beer is chilling nicely for later.......
  4. Wasn't trying to say it was on blocks from WWII - those dates are a bit obvious! Looked like he'd licensed it, but couldn't have driven it much - the tires are totally gone - but the mechanical brake linings are new. :)

    His grandson didn't have any history on what happened between when his Grandpa bought the house in 32 and when the car was put up on blocks. He didn't think his Father ever got to see it run either. Nice to see that the family still owned the car - even though his Grandma (who lived quite a ways past Grandpa's death) was hit up by lots of folks who knew about the car and wanted to buy it from her. One guy at the auction said he knew of the car from about 1960 or so . . . but the family would never sell it.

    I'm planning on taking the Grandson out of a ride when it is running again - he deserves to ride in it. I figure I'm just the caretaker at this point!
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  5. Awesome story. Those headlight conversions really bug me. That must of been a pretty common thing to do.
  6. Holy smokes! Neat pictures! Do you mind if I post one on Instagram??? That garage is something else!
  7. No problem - glad you're interested. Take care . . .
  8. tinmann
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 1,589


    Is there a part three to this story or do I have to wait for my RJ? I want to hear about the frenzied auction!!!!!
  9. tinmann
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 1,589


    tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...........
  10. tinmann
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 1,589


    Fine. Be that way. I'll go out to the shop and work on my '32 3w and check back later.
  11. Don't look for fault.

    Real common Josh,my old coupe that Don built had them installed.

    That was before all the innovations in lighting the originals. HRP
  12. Last edited: Mar 23, 2014
  13. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 26,932


    What a great find and story, can't wait for part two! Bob
  14. Frick'n time capsule!
  15. Damnit, the suspense!
  16. Part 2 - The Auction and 'The King'

    After seeing the condition of the car, I needed to make a BIG damn decision. Did I really want the car or not . . . and IF I did, was I planning to win the auction or not? This thing was not going to sell for cheap . . . so am I in or not? Chris and I discussed it, let him know that I was going to give it hell.

    The Scene - Groups Mulling About, Every HotRod Creature Known to Man: When you look at the crowd and try to figure out who is a serious potential bidder and who isn't . . . nothing makes sense. You have groups of guys that know each other all shooting the shit, you have mysterious fellows not talking to anybody but their cell phones, you have the old car guys, the younger rat-rod crew . . . some folks just there to hang out and watch. Some guys are dressed nice, some just came from work - just a melting pot of hot rodders, restorers, custom guys . . . every flavor you can imagine. I decided that since I didn't know a damn person other than Chris, might as well hang back and watch this slice of human kind - and see what unfolds . . .

    In My Mind, Little Voice Kept Saying - Dale, You Have One Chance At a Car Like This, Make a Decision: I digress . . . A wonderful man in my family told me a story about 10 years ago, about a special piece of property up in Alaska on the Kenai river. An old man owned it and my sorta step-dad (another Dale) knew the old guy well and told him "If you ever want to sell this piece of property, please call me".

    Well - one dang Wednesday night . . . out of the blue, the old man called Dale and said I'm selling - if you want it, you have two days to come up with the money (and it was a lot). Dale told me . . . every once in awhile something really special comes up in your life, and you either figure out how to make it happen - or you don't. But one thing you KNOW - it will probably never happen again. That Dale scrounged up the money - and that piece of land is one of the best Salmon fishing spots in the world . . . fished it many times. So - the point -> know when something rare is happening - don't expect it again.

    Like my step-dad Dale (and no, I'm not named after him!), I thought . . . "Hell, you have one chance at this, either decide to win it and show that, or don't waste your time bidding!"

    Second Thought - Don't Bid Until Everybody Else is Done: I knew there would be a lot of bidding, but why bid early? Seems to me you're bidding against yourself until it gets to the end. I just stood in the back of the crowd and the auction started . . .

    Of course they're selling the old house first - some nice families there to try and buy it (I was hoping they would), but some Developer had the high bid. To give you an idea of the state of the thing . . . it went for less than the car. :eek:

    Okay - now we're onto the 32. Here we have a Real Estate guy auctioning off a rare car on a Thursday night? That is enough to make you shake your head. Good news, probably not a bunch of East/West Coast high rollers here for this gig . . . lets see what happens.

    The bidding starts and I watch the crowd (from the very back) - lots of early bidders, lots of optimism and false hope for a 'great deal'. Too damn many car guys for that to happen. The bidding continues and until there is one guy left . . . he has the high bid, you guessed it . . . a guy they call 'The King' of 32's and he is holding court . . .

    Going Once . . . Going Twice ??? Anybody else asks the auctioneer - looking over the crowd???

    Now or never I tell myself - so I just kind of raise my finger from the back of the crowd. Of course the auctioneer sees me and he is happy as shit - means he's going to make more money.

    He Says . . . Wait! - We Have a Late Bidder! . . .

    Everybody looks back - their faces all had the looks of:

    'Who the Hell is That Guy . . . Where Did He Come From???'.

    The good news also, is that the current high bidder can't see me . . . I'm just a stranger in the back of the crowd who just opened up the bidding once again. I figured that would make whomever it was - a bit uneasy . . .

    And off the auctioneer goes again (now he is really getting enthusiastic!). So he raises it a thou to the King, back to me, another thou, back to the King, another thou . . .

    Send a Signal Your Serious - Or Just Go Home: Hmmm . . . time to make a move, or quit. When the auctioneer comes back to me and asks for another thou, I raise it $2500. He was kind of shocked that I raised his next bid - but that was a deliberate decision on my part. You're either here to win - or you're not, send a sign.

    My point was, I needed to let the King know that I wasn't planning on losing this deal - not this night. That was the signal that the King needed - he bowed out.

    Afterwards, one of the guys that knew the other bidder runs over and says: "

    Hey, you just beat the King of 32's . . . he never gets beat, I can't believe it!"

    So I prevailed . . . the car was mine. It was not cheap, but it was fair . . . and I figured it was not going to happen to me again. Thanks step-dad Dale, you gave me the will to make it happen . . . :rolleyes:

    'The King of 32's' - A Hell of a Nice Guy: I think he was a bit shocked that he quit and didn't win . . . but he came over, shook my hand and was a super gracious guy, let me know that it was one of the best 32's he'd ever seen in recent years. (Guess he has over 60 of them). Just seemed like another average car guy - obsessed with the same shit we are. He gave me some suggestions about leaving the car in as close to an "as found" condition as possible - that you can never truly recreate history, so preserve it. I was thankful to have a chance to meet him - an honorable, genuine and kind man.

    Now What - Can't Take it Home, Don't Want to Leave It: I talk to the grandson, make arrangements to come pick it up the next afternoon (Friday). I can't sleep hardly at all that night - all I can think about is after 54 years, some bastard is going to come steal it! Well - that didn't happen.

    Document It As it Sits - Before You Disturb It: Chris Daniels had a great idea - he said that we'll only have one chance to photograph it before the scene is disturbed and that the scene itself is worth capturing. He said he'd find a professional photographer and we'd shoot pictures of the whole scene the following evening. I'd have never thought of that - thanks to Chris (and Adam the photographer), I actually have all these cool photos . . .

    Adam met us there the following evening and shot a ton of pictures to capture the car, the evening and the first time it 'rolled' in 54 years.

    Here are a few shots:







    Tomorrow: 'Part 3 . . . Getting the Old Girl Rolling Again . . . '

    Stay tuned - if you haven't fallen to sleep from sheer boredom, then torture yourself once more tomorrow evening . . .

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
  17. stuart in mn
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
    Posts: 1,745

    stuart in mn

    I was just reading about this car in the Rodder's Journal yesterday. :) Looking forward to more information about the car. (by the way, even though it's a little off topic how did the '66 Grand Prix look?)
  18. JohnJoyo
    Joined: Feb 19, 2005
    Posts: 1,379

    Alliance Vendor
    from Austin, TX

    Great story! Congratulations.
  19. FalconMan
    Joined: Sep 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,316

    from Minnesota

    You are a lucky guy !
  20. tinmann
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 1,589


    Well told, lucky man.
  21. neds29
    Joined: Dec 25, 2013
    Posts: 15


    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=6 width="100%" border=0> <TBODY> <TR> <TD class=alt2 style="BORDER-TOP: 1px inset; BORDER-RIGHT: 1px inset; BORDER-BOTTOM: 1px inset; BORDER-LEFT: 1px inset"> Originally Posted by neds29 [​IMG]
    Wait a minute, WW2? The license plate is 1959, a few years after that war and the following one too. I'm sure we're all watching for the auction results.
    Don't look for fault.

    Whose looking? I'm just trying to figure out what he's talking about. Nice find for sure, but a 1959 plate and talking about bald tires because of WW2 rationing you have to admit doesn't make a lot of sense. But hey, good story anyway.
  22. Okie Pete
    Joined: Oct 29, 2008
    Posts: 3,171

    Okie Pete

    Great story , glad you got the car bought. Good idea to get pictures where it sat all those years.
  23. thommoina33
    Joined: Jun 27, 2008
    Posts: 1,046

    Alliance Member
    from australia
    Staff Member

    Great story, great car and great outcome, you've got me hooked

    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
  24. Chrisbcritter
    Joined: Sep 11, 2011
    Posts: 1,830


    What a great story, and the photos add so much to it! Maybe you should speak to the developer and make him an offer for the garage; wouldn't it be something to have both? Move it to your place and keep it and the car together.

    Frankly I wish I'd been there to bid on the O/T Grand Prix - bet it went cheap?
  25. Oh man, I was on the edge of my seat just reading that,
    Can't imagine being in the thick of that auction.
    Congratulations, that truly is a chance of a life time.
    Amazing score!!!
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
  26. If I had the funds I'd of made an offer on the whole chibang but I'm glad the car sold autonomously from the real estate other wise it would've become cost prohibitive for the average car guy.

    What did the Poncho sell for? ??

    Posted using Full box of Crayons on the Kitchen Walls App!
    PAracer likes this.
  27. Damn this is like a Paul Harvey story, I keep waiting for the rest of it ! :D
  28. Great to read and see through those photos, props for taking that leap of faith and making that dream a reality as im sure that car was destined to be given a fresh chapter of its life and stoked that you embraced its history, something few choose to embrace.
    Looking forward to the next few chapters.
  29. hotrod36
    Joined: Aug 31, 2006
    Posts: 231


    Very kool story can't wait for part III.
  30. Beachcomber
    Joined: Aug 4, 2010
    Posts: 283

    from Phoenix,AZ

    Fantastic Story! Congrats

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