Flames, Flatheads, Fenders, Fatboys: the American hot rod has many manifestations. Each is the personal expression of its creator, which is both the charm and the attraction of the street rods. Some take T-buckets, some favor '40 Fords, others prefer Plymouths or choose Chevys. The permutations and combinations are endless but the essence of the genre is high performance and individual expression. The Deuce offered here is a beautiful example of the classic street rod. Built in the late '60s and restored in 1980, it features a Chevy small block in '32 Ford frame rails. Its "mouse" motor is bored and stroked to 350 cubic inches with a 650-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor on a polished aluminum high-rise intake manifold. The engine uses a 30/30 camshaft and HE ignition. The GM Turbo 350 automatic transmission with Hurst Indy shift kit complements the small block's power with crisp shifts and driver-friendly utility. A Tilton starter gets it all going. The motor is cooled by a Walker radiator with twin automatic cooling fans for reliable performance in low-speed cruising or traffic. Camaro front disc brakes behind 15x6-inch wheels rein in the Chevy's ponies, along with stock drums on the '57 Chevy rear axle with 15x7-inch wheels. The Wescott body is adorned with candy purple paint accented by Cadillac Pearl white scallops. Chrome valve covers, alternator, water pump and air cleaner carry on the classic street rod theme, completed with chrome headers and stainless steel exhaust. Upholstered in white Naugahyde carried over to the runningboards and removable top, the fully carpeted interior features Stewart-Warner gauges and chrome steering column. This rod has been featured in American Rodder magazine twice, including a centerfold and cover. Ready to cruise in pride, it is a characteristic expression of the street rodder's art.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1932 Ford Hot Rod roadster
Years Produced:Still in production
Number Produced:N/A
SCM Valuation:N/A
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$13
Chassis Number Location:Top side of frame, left side
Engine Number Location:Left front side of engine block
Club Info:Goodguys Rod & Custom Association, P.O. Box 424, Alamo, CA 94507, phone 925/838-9876, fax 925/820-8241

This car sold for $22,990 including buyer’s premium at RM’s Arizona Biltmore auction on January 19, 2001. RM estimated the sale price to fall between $30,000 and $40,000, which is close to the retail money on this Ford. What happened? Was there just one hot-rod buyer at this auction?

After an auction, there are one or two cars everyone talks about. This is one of those cars. I tossed a description of this car to some hot-rod buyers and their response was, “Sounds like a nice $30,000 car.”

The 1932 roadster in fiberglass or steel is still a favorite with the hot-rod crowd. With redesigned fenders and a famous radiator shell, its body style attracts new buyers seventy years after the original design.

Original roadsters have been scarce for decades. Just 7,400 were produced with the famous flathead V8 and 4,600 with the 4-cylinder engine. In the mid-1970s, innovators like Ray Wescott produced fiberglass bodies of the ’32 Ford. (While the catalog says this car was built in the late ’60s, Ray told me he didn’t start selling bodies until 1976 and has since made between 1,200 and 1,300 of them.) These alternatives to steel cars are part of the reason why street rodding has become so popular.

While some die-hard rodders would never drive a ‘glass car, new enthusiasts may not be as particular. I’ve had the opportunity to auction many ‘glass-bodied hot rods, and it’s rare when they roll off the block without being sold. It’s the kind of car everyone seems to love.

From the standpoint of collectibility, the hot-rod market is still expanding. This is especially true for cars priced below $30,000. Anytime you can buy a one-of-a-kind car-no two hot rods are alike-for less than half of the cost to build one, you’ll find eager buyers and, with prices approaching $100,000 for a steel car with hot-rod history or a very original body, there is room for expansion in the low-end, ‘glass part of the market.

Was this car a good buy? I think so. Open any street rod magazine and you’ll see page after page of all the components you need to build a car from scratch. Add in the cost of the work you couldn’t do yourself or, for that matter, turning the assembly over to your local hot-rod shop and you’ll find that $22,990 would leave you with a stack of parts boxes and an unassembled car.

The discrepancy between the catalog’s date of construction for this rod and the time that Wescott started selling bodies is troubling, but I don’t believe that is the reason this car sold for so little. More likely, it was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Surrounded by C-type Jaguars and Duesenbergs-and the buyers who are attracted to those types of original cars-the little ‘glass rod just didn’t have any sex appeal for the bidders at this auction. Its low, near-bargain price proves once again that even at a high-line auction there are deals to be found.-Steve Dorsey

(Historical information and photo courtesy of auction company.)

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