|Vehicle:||1932 Ford Highboy Roadster|
|Number Produced:||12,080 DeLuxe and Standard V8 and 4-cylinder roadsters in 1932|
|Original List Price:||$500 (for a DeLuxe, $460 for a Standard)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$200 (estimated)|
|Chassis Number Location:||Plate on frame|
|Engine Number Location:||Cast on bell housing|
|Club Info:||There is no club specifically for vintage hot rods, but the buyer would be welcomed at the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) and Goodguys events|
|Alternatives:||None, really… a deuce is a deuce|
This ’32 Ford Highboy sold for $154,000 at the Gooding & Co. Pebble Beach Auction on August 21, 2011. The auction company estimate was $125,000 to $175,000.
I have examined this car closely on two occasions, first when it was owned by Mike Russell, and later when it belonged to the consignor, Glenn Mounger of Bainbridge Island, WA.
Important, historic deuce roadsters have traditionally sold well, publicly and privately. This example, while not a famous magazine feature car, had a lot going for it. Its whereabouts were known for 63 years. The Ford V8 was replete with desirable speed equipment: a period S.Co.T supercharger, reproduction Ardun OHV heads, an Auburn dash panel, an original 0–8,000 rpm Stewart-Warner tachometer, Kinmont “Safe-Stop” disc brakes in front and a Halibrand quick-change rear.
Putting aside its provenance and decades of known history for a moment, if you simply tried to build this car, this is what you’d be in for:
A gennie deuce body and chassis, as good as this one, paint ready, runs upwards of $75k.
Assembling a decent Ardun flathead these days is a $40k proposition. A real S.Co.T blower is a $20k item (although reproductions are available from H&H for about $16k).
A Thickstun air cleaner is a grand — if you can find one.
A full set of Kinmont disc brakes just sold for $22k, so figure on at least $10k for a pair of fronts.
Add $4k for the Auburn panel, other gauges and the tach, another $4k to $5k for the Halibrand quickie (try and find one for less), a few grand for the Zephyr gears, the Guide lights and the dropped axle, and you’ve spent more than $154,000 before paint, chrome, upholstery and assembly.
So why not $175,000 for this roadster?
No historical magazine juice
Critics could say the windshield should have been chopped more and leaned back a tad, that the highboy would have been more correct for the period with skinny 16-inch wheels and tires, that there was no top or hood, there wasn’t enough rake, and that ’39 teardrops would’ve looked better than stock ’32 taillights. But that’s all nitpicking, and it’s all easily corrected.
But here’s the real reason…
Bruce Olson, who started this roadster, never completed the car, and hence it neither raced nor appeared as a feature in a vintage hot rod publication. That’s a major determinant of value where period hot rods are concerned. While nearly all of its important bits and pieces are authentic, and many are quite rare, the total assemblage was simply a later owner’s interpretation of what a period hot rod should be.
The frame, while genuine ’32 Ford, does not have an 18-prefix chassis number, probably because the original title was not available and the car had to be re-registered. That puts it in the same class as a reconstructed roadster with “re-pop” rails.
Authentic, but no important history
Interest in authentic period hot rods with correct speed equipment shows no sign of abating. Major historic hot rod collectors, such as Bruce Meyer, Ross Myers, Jim Mumford, Don Orosco and Richard Munz, already have authentic vintage ’32 roadsters with hot rod magazine and/or racing provenance. They’ll still step up and pay $200k and more for the real deal, such as the historical roadsters built by Doane Spencer, Dick Flint, Tony LaMasa, Ray Brown, Tommy Foster and Neal East. These cars are eligible for the Pebble Beach Historic Hot Rod Class. This roadster is not. It’s a replica of sorts. While its story is known, it really has no important history.
That said, authentic historic hot rods are hard to find — and very expensive.
Prices on Kinmont brakes and Auburn dash panels continue to rise, but as good as the reproduction steel bodies are these days, knowledgeable collectors who can pay top dollar want the real thing.
If you tried to duplicate this nicely built highboy, with its special blend of parts, you’d have to pay much more than $154,000. So in this economy, I’d call this ’32 Highboy very well bought.
(Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company. Note: Gross researched and wrote the intro for the auction company but was not involved in the actual sale in any way.)<p