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History The Doane Spencer Roadster from '52-'69...More details?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Bass, Dec 2, 2010.

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

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    There are a couple of decent threads on the HAMB discussing the Doane Spencer roadster. However, I'm interested in learning more about the roadster as it was being prepped for the Mexican road race "La Carrera Panamericana", and the details of the roadster under the stewardship of Lynn Wineland.

    According to my research, Wineland bought the major pieces of the roadster from Doane Spencer sometime in 1956. Spencer had started selling parts off of the roadster after his plan to race the car in the La Carrera Panamericana fell by the wayside with the race being discontinued in 1955. Prior to 1955 Spencer had already rebuilt the chassis. He'd bobbed the frame horns front and rear, added through-the-frame exhaust, Z-ed the front of the frame, added a V8-60 front axle with new hairpins, built a substantial X-member, and raised the engine.

    At the point of Wineland's acquisition, the new frame/chassis looked very much like it does in the following photos...with the exception of a Ford (or Mercury?) Y-block taking the place of the flathead. These photos are from 1952:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The next photo is of the chassis with the OHV Y-block going in, taken in Doane Spencer's home garage. You can see that engine is adapted to a top-shift ('39 style) Ford 3spd. The car still has a Banjo rear and torque tube.

    If you look closely, you can see the dropped "double-dip" axle laying in the floor...lower right corner of the photo. Also note that the car has a white cloth top mounted at this time...I've never seen another photo of the car with this top.

    [​IMG]

    Those are the only photos I can find of the car during it's reconstruction prior to Wineland taking ownership in 1956.

    The next photo I can find of the car is the December 1960 cover of Rod & Custom. In this photo, you can see Spencer building the headlight/nerf bar for the front of the car. The car has the Ford/Merc Y-block in place, and is fitted with a Jackson Rotofaze distributor, front mount tach drive, and some sort of injector that looks like a 2-port Hilborn.

    [​IMG]

    Now from this point, every article I've read on the car says that it never moved under its own power with the Y-block installed. I've also seen numerous references to the car having a 4-71 blown Y-block in it, but I've never seen any actual photos of the car with a blower.

    As for the car not moving under its own power, the photo below is from Andy Southard's Hot Rods of the 1950s. The caption says it was taken at the Hollywood Bowl in October '61 during the 2nd annual LA Roadster Show.

    [​IMG]

    If the car didn't run, was it trailered to this show?

    The roadster now has it's signature removable hardtop, rear hairpins, 4-piece hood with louvered hood-top, and 15" wheels with '50 Mercs on the rear.

    I zoomed in on the windshield card, and it says the car is powered by a '57 Thunderbird engine. Did it have a 4-71 blower on it at this point?

    I also found this photo from a recent article on Wineland, that must have been taken at about the same time. If you look closely you can see that the car now has a quickchange, the V8-60 axle is in place, and it has vented Lincoln brakes. I'm not sure if the rear hairpins mean that the car now has an open driveline, or if it still has a torque tube.

    [​IMG]


    In 1969, while going through a divorce, Wineland gave the car to Neal East with stipulations that it had to stay all black and Ford-powered. East supposedly pulled the Les Ritchey-built Y-block and replaced it with a 284 inch flathead and a '48 Lincoln transmission.

    Also from Andy Southard's book, here is a photo of how the car looked in September 1972 after East had made his changes and got the car on the road.

    [​IMG]

    You can see that the hood sides are off, the V8-60 axle has been replaced with a heavy '32 axle, and it has wires rather than steelies.

    The 'restored' version that Bruce Meyer now has most closely resembles the configuration of the car when Neal East owned it, although the wheel/tire combo looks more like the original version from the late '30s-40s. I'm of the opinion that the current version is the best looking of them all, but it's interesting that the car never actually looked like it does now when Spencer owned it.

    So with all that said, I'd love to hear more about this roadster. Anything that can be added would be greatly appreciated....especially details on the induction and driveline when the car was Y-block powered.

    Are you out there somewhere, Pat Ganahl?
     
  2. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,597

    JeffreyJames
    Member
    from SUGAR CITY

    Did this past week's American Icon TV show spark your interest? Geesh when do you sleep? Are you trying tell me that you can build as many cars as you do and still have time to kick back and watch some boob tube?

    I can't believe that this car seen so many reiterations and wasn't lost to a newfound street rod incarnation. I'd be interested to see what they did for Panamericana as well. Tough race and even tougher with a early ford suspension.
     
  3. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,597

    JeffreyJames
    Member
    from SUGAR CITY

    I'll also say that seeing this car in person is mind blowing. Now I'm not sure how close the paint is and such as compared to the original but hot damn is this car way ahead of it's time. From that image of it's X member grafted to the frame to the interior with the arm rest built into the seat, it's almost incomprehensible to believe that this car was started in the 30's and finished in the early 50's before taking on a new life as we see above. Ruler.
     
  4. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,597

    JeffreyJames
    Member
    from SUGAR CITY

    Is this the same car or another he did? Wide fives?
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    JJ, same car....I think it has Lincoln drums...they're not wide 5.

    I've actually been studying this car for a long time....but I did watch the show the other day, and I have to say it was pretty good.

    I've seen the restored version in person numerous times, and it always knocks my socks off. Definitely one of my favorite hot rods of all time, and I'd like to learn more about it if possible.

    I think I've read pretty much everything ever written on this car, except for Ganahl's Automobile Quarterly article from a few years back... I need to order that back issue.
     
  6. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,597

    JeffreyJames
    Member
    from SUGAR CITY

    I'm surprised Bruce Meyer isn't on here once in a while. While probably not the best resource I'm including the "How Stuff Works" article because it includes a couple things that could either be bull shit or....

    In the early 1950s, Spencer began to rebuild the roadster so he could run it in Mexico's Carrera Panamericana. He beefed up the suspension, ran the exhaust through the frame rails, and installed a Halibrand quick-change rear end, Hali brand magnesium wheels, and a new Lincoln overhead-valve V-8. Unfortunately, the Mexican road race was canceled before he could run it, so Spencer sold the car to Rod & Custom staffer Lynn Wineland.

    Wineland modified the car further with a Ford Thunderbird V-8, a 1937 Ford tube axle, and rear radius rods. Spencer, in fact, performed some of the work. Wineland never com pleted the car, however, and sold it to fellow R&C staffer Neal East in 1968. East put the car back on the road with the flathead V-8 and a 1948 Lincoln overdrive transmission.



    I thought those we're Lincoln drums as well but I have a set on my '35 right now just like them and the part number starts with 48 so Bruce Lancaster as well as a few other believe that it could be an off brand ford part that was started in 1936. Could be Lincoln or just could be one of the many mfg's that produced the drum in those years. But yeah, I was originally told they were Lincoln so of course that what I tell people I have haha!!
     
  7. cruzr
    Joined: Jan 19, 2006
    Posts: 3,125

    cruzr
    Member

    there was a clone {fiberglss body} the was real nice
     

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  8. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,597

    JeffreyJames
    Member
    from SUGAR CITY

    From Streetrodderweb.com


    1932 Ford Roadster - Spencer 2
    A Roadster Reincarnate
    From the August, 2007 issue of Street Rodder
    By Eric Geisert
    Photography by Randy Lorentzen, Brian Brennan

    There are those who believe they could improve on the world's masterpieces if they had a chance. But what if you had only 40 percent of a work of art, and had detailed knowledge on how to finish it? Though 16th century master sculptor Michelangelo is well known for his statues and other works of fine art, many do not know he also left behind half-finished statues when he died-huge blocks of marble with only a portion of a torso revealed amid the rough chisel marks.

    Now it would take someone with either a huge ego or enormous talent to think they could step up and fill Michelangelo's sandals and complete his masterwork. However, that has already happened with other works of art, and folks are just now finding out about it.

    Doane Spencer was a man of many talents, and, quite frankly, he excelled at all of them. He was among the first Southern California residents to take up hot rodding, purchasing a '32 roadster (to which he will be forever linked) just before WWII broke out. After the war, he began tuning and tweaking it as only he knew how and eventually visited every state in the Union with it. But in the '50s he began to tear it apart so he could compete in a new international race: the La Carrera Panamericana-or, as it is sometimes referred, the Mexican Road Race.

    Needing extra clearance for the rocky roads he was to race over, Doane designed the exhaust system to run through the framerails instead of under the car. By the mid-'50s he began to lose interest in his highboy and gain an interest in the new Ford Thunderbird. After the Panamericana was cancelled in 1955 (due to fatalities), Doane sold the roadster to Lynn Wineland (another T-bird owner and then-editor of Rod & Custom) and went on to race V-8 Sunbeam Tigers with the SCCA and be a crew chief on a team that raced a Ferrari at LeMans.

    The '32, stuffed with a Y-block, sat in Lynn's garage for years and was never driven, though it did make it on the cover of the December 1960 issue of Rod & Custom showing Doane fabbing up some nerf bars for it. Ownership of the car was transferred to Neal East in 1969, who added a Flathead motor and a gas tank, and then drove the wheels off the car for the next three decades. Hot rod collector Bruce Meyers convinced Neal to sell him the car in the early '90s, and Bruce, recognizing the historical value of the highboy, took it to Pete Chapouris' PC3g hot rod shop (a precursor to the SO-CAL Speed Shop) to be restored.

    Not long after Pete got the car in 1995, Doane passed away, but the work continued and Pete and his talented crew blew the roadster apart, and as meticulous as Doane had been when he first built the car, they followed suit and went about restoring the car to concours standards. When the work was done, Bruce entered it in the high-end Pebble Beach show in 1997 and won his class.

    Nowadays, Doane's roadster, lofted into rarified air by being listed as one of the 75 Most Influential '32 Hot Rods, always seems to easily place in the Top 5 of any hot rodder's list of "cars I'd like to own." The roadster has an everyman's appeal, probably because it reflects so much of its original builder's personality.

    But besides the roadster, Doane had also completed his exceptional '55 T-bird (a low-slung black number now owned by the Petersen Automotive Museum). He'd also begun work on an updated version of his famous roadster for his friend, Darrell Brunn, only this one would benefit from 40 more years of innovative thinking and design from Doane.
     
  9. Several HAMBers also know Neal East, maybe that is an angle to follow?!
     
  10. Blackie
    Joined: Jun 8, 2004
    Posts: 596

    Blackie
    Member

    Why the use of '51 F-1 Spindles? Both Left hand spindles? Isn't the inclination angle wrong when used with early axles? My roller A frame has F-1 spindles and the top of the wheels are about 1" out (total) compared to the bottom. I knew Doane used F-1 spindles but never understood why.
     
  11. In the Oct 61 photo it almost appears the left front wheel is chocked with something. maybe it was just a roller??

    Quite a car, way ahead of its time.
     
  12. Really cool to see this thread appear.
    We all know the Spencer Roadster, but the last build for the La Carrera Panamericana is fascinating and very clever with the construction and parts used.

    The picture above of the front end with the caption is from an article in Rod & Custom from '96 I think. A good article as it showed detailed pictures and descriptions of the chassis before the body went on after the restoration.
     
  13. On the cover of the R & C it has what looks to be a front driven distributor? Y blocks were the only early Fords with distributors in the back. If thats the case, it would have a special timing cover...and what drove it? Y blocks are chain driven, not gear. Interesting....
     
  14. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    So someone here on the HAMB knows Neal East? It would be great if we could get him to tell us about the car as he received it from Wineland.


    I am just guessing here, but I think it may have to do with the use of the Lincoln backing plates. The late Lincoln ('42-'48, I think) backing plates have a deep recess and won't work on '37-38 Ford spindles without a spacer. The Lincoln axle also has a different kingpin inclination, and it's possible that the F-1 pickup shared the same Kingpin inclination?
     
  15. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,912

    need louvers ?
    Member

    The clone was built by the late Dave Gale up in Ohio about '78 or so. After running it most of the eighties as a pretty close copy, ( Dave didn't do the exhaust through the rails as Doane did) he slicked it up and build one of the prettiest "medium tech" cars ever. Won't tell you what happened to it later...
    My favorite incarnation of the Spencer car was late in Neal East's ownership, and was on the back cover of damn near every Rod Action in the late eighties wearing a set of Halibrand small window mags in a shock commercial. Also in that shot was Pete and Jakes coupes, the Niecamp car, and Pete's dad's little '27.
     
  16. HotRodMicky
    Joined: Oct 14, 2001
    Posts: 1,756

    HotRodMicky
    Member

    Damm the DS Roadster is sooo cool.
     
  17. safari-wagon
    Joined: Jan 12, 2008
    Posts: 1,457

    safari-wagon
    Member

    That rod has always been my personal icon of the hobby. Thx Bass for posting these pics.
     
  18. jmikee
    Joined: Mar 1, 2007
    Posts: 190

    jmikee
    Member
    from washington

    I too have been a student of the Doane Spencer roadster for the last 5 years or so and decided to pattern my latest after the early car. It is almost impossible to nail that car down as Doane was constantly up grading and modifying, basically until he disassembled it. The best photos i found were included in articles on the current roadster that had some old shots. My avatar is my roadster and there are a few more in an album under my name.
    Love the DS roadster in all it incarnations.
     
  19. pan-dragger
    Joined: Sep 13, 2006
    Posts: 3,187

    pan-dragger
    Member

    I know Neal, just saw him this past weekend. I'll see if we can get him to chime in with any info.
     
  20. ronbo
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 15

    ronbo
    Member

    Steve Coonan and Bruce Meyer, the community needs you. How about the definitive book on the ICON! I'd like to pre-order one, what ever the cost!!
     
  21. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
    Member

    When you draw the Doane Spencer Duece , its hard to decide on which version to do. I did the one with the hairpins on the back. I wanted to see it with the headlights off too. My favorite 32.:D

    [​IMG]
     
  22. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,597

    JeffreyJames
    Member
    from SUGAR CITY

    I love your stuff Cory. It's shame we only live 45 mins away and never see each other. You should come to one of our breakfasts. We're having one tomorrow morning.

    Or we'll come out there if needs be!!!
     
  23. pgan
    Joined: Apr 7, 2009
    Posts: 196

    pgan
    Member

    Mr. Bass,

    I just came across your post, and I've got to leave in a few minutes to do an interview with Jay Leno on my new book Lost Hot Rods (look for it on Jay's Garage on line).

    Yes, get the back issue of A.Q. with my article on the car. You'll be very surprised. It even shows it with full fenders. I got several photos from Doanna, Doane's daughter. Neal East can also tell you most anything you want to know.

    When Neal put the wire wheels on the car, Doane told him to "Take those stupid, old fashioned things off." Neal then put Halibrands on it that he hand-polished. Narrow ones.

    It was my understanding that Doane was fitting the car for a Lincoln OHV engine, same as those in the winning Lincolns (Stroppe?) that won the Mexican race. The T-Bird Y-block was Lynn's, and I'm pretty sure it never ran. I never heard of a blower on it. The 2-port Hilborn was a dummy cover photo prop.

    The majority of the time Doane drove the car it had frame horns, a rolled pan over the gas tank with an inset license, '37 bullet taillights, and so on.

    Gotta go. Hope this helps.

    Pat Ganahl
     
  24. bonesy
    Joined: Aug 14, 2005
    Posts: 2,999

    bonesy
    Member

    Info like THIS is why I spend time on the HAMB!

    Thanks Mr. Ganahl


     
  25. beatnik
    Joined: Nov 8, 2002
    Posts: 2,206

    beatnik
    Member

    Nothing with the Y-Block yet, but here's a couple from the 70's with radials, and mini fenders.
     

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

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    Pat,

    Thanks very much for replying to my post. I really appreciate any info you can add on the subject of Doane's roadster...and I'm sure I'm not alone.

    There seems to be a surprising amount of mystery surrounding this era of the car, even with it being as famous as it is now.

    I'm going to go ahead and order the back issue today. I didn't even know that article on the car existed until about a week ago.

    I would like to get in touch with Neal East to talk with him about the car as he received it from Wineland. Hopefully someone here on the HAMB can get me his contact info.

    I culled the info on the 4-71-blown Y-block from the Dec. 98 issue of Rod & Custom with the feature on the restored car. This was after you had left the helm of the magazine, and the article was written by Gray Baskerville.

    From the article:

    "According to East, "I got it completely out of the blue." East replaced the Les Ritchey-blown Y-block with a 284-inch flathead and stuck a '48 Lincoln trans behind the faithful so he could retain the closed driveshaft."

    One of the captions of the same article also says that it was a "roots-blown Y-block."

    Another source that talks about the blown Y-block is the Tony Thacker book 32 Ford Deuce, released in 2007. In the section on the Spencer roadster, in a caption next to the color photo of Doane and a friend setting the Y-block in the frame, it reads:

    "The motor that he and a friend heft is the 312 Y-block Ford with an adaptor to the '39 trans. This motor was to be fitted with a 4-71 blower."

    I don't know who's citing who in either of these instances, or where the information of a 4-71 blower is coming from in the first place, but if you know more about the incarnation of the car as it was owned by Wineland, I'd love to hear about it.

    Thanks again for replying! I'll look for your interview on Leno's Garage.

    -Brian Bass
     
  27. Bass
    Joined: Jul 9, 2001
    Posts: 3,347

    Bass
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    Beatnik, I could be wrong...but I'm inclined to think that the car you posted is the clone by Dave Gale.

    Someone please correct me if it's the original.
     
  28. krylon32
    Joined: Jan 29, 2006
    Posts: 5,970

    krylon32
    Alliance Vendor
    from Nebraska

    This car is legend. Interesting that according to a friend of mine a man in Denver has built 3 close clones of the DS roadster 2 black and the other is I believe blue and also a black coupe version. I've seen the first roadster and the coupe version. They pay tribute to an iconic roadster
     
  29. zibo
    Joined: Mar 17, 2002
    Posts: 2,346

    zibo
    Member
    from dago ca

    I always wondered about the steering box support with the cowl steer.
    Since there aren't any pedals on the frame,
    and the master cylinder(s) are on the firewall,
    there must have been a hoop with swinging pedals.
    Always wondered how stiff it was.

    Actually I ripped off his idea for the front/rear master cylinders on my RPU!
    [​IMG]

    Did it have a column shift with that tranny?

    Thanks for the thorough investigation.

    TP
     
  30. thunderbirdesq
    Joined: Feb 15, 2006
    Posts: 6,716

    thunderbirdesq
    Member

    This thread is great, I'm on the edge of my seat. There's a pic of it in the Hot Rod and custom chronicle flanked by two bikes with the mopar double-dip axle with what looks like Ford dropped axle ends grafted on! Crazy...
     

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