In the days following WWII, man’s “need for speed” manifested itself in many different ways. If your name was Kimberly or Cunningham, you wrote a $10,000 check for a red European sports car. This wonderful obsession for performance had nothing to do with family fortunes, however, and was just as keenly felt by the garage mechanic from San Mateo or the crane operator in Atlantic City. Unable to afford a brand-new high-performance car, thousands of returning servicemen turned to hot rodding in order to satisfy their high-octane needs. Rodding is a relatively complex pursuit, but the premise was simple—strip it down and hop it up. Thus, whatever you began with—in many cases a $200 pre-war Ford—ended up looking better and going faster. Fords were favored because of their handsome Edsel Ford/Bob Gregorie styling, but the main reason was surely Henry’s potent flathead. This historical street rod was built by Jack Lentz of Bedford, New Jersey, in 1954 and showcased all the typical styling and performance modification of that era. “Golden Rod” was shaved and decked, is radically channeled and design details have been frenched. The detailed engine bay is fitted with a chromed, milled flathead, in this case of 1949 Mercury origin, fully modified and adorned with authentic period speed parts by Weiand, Fenton and Mallory. The steel body panels feature some 20 coats of lacquer and subtle pin-striping of the type popularized by the master Von Dutch. The most impressive aspect of Lentz’s Golden Rod is its originality. The car has never been restored—paintwork, tires, upholstery, all of the mechanicals, even the carpeting are original. In 1997, for the first time, hot rods were invited to form an entire class at the 47th annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. This is perhaps the most significant recognition of hot rodding as a valid and all-American form of automotive expression to date. In 1999 the concept was repeated and the Jack Lentz ’32 Ford roadster pictured here was one of the nine invitees thus honored. This public endorsement is a strong validation of this historic hot rod’s concept, execution and condition.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1932 Ford Hot Rod Roadster — "Golden Rod"
Years Produced:1932
Number Produced:6,893
Original List Price:$500 (1932 Deluxe Roadster)
SCM Valuation:N/A
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$13
Chassis Number Location:Top side of frame, left side
Engine Number Location:Top of clutch housing
Club Info:Goodguys Rod & Custom Association, P.O. Box 424, Alamo, CA 94507, ph. 925/838-9876, fax 925/820-8241
Alternatives:1968 Shelby GT 500KR conv., 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster w/L84 options, Boyd custom-built hot rod

This 1932 Ford roadster sold at RM’s Amelia Island auction on March 10, 2001, for $84,700, including buyer’s premium.

Although this is a significant and historical hot rod, it is not the first deuce roadster to break the $75,000 barrier in 2001. At Barrett-Jackson this year, a traditional ’32 full-fendered roadster sold for $79,920, while a professionally built ’29 roadster with a deuce frame and grille shell went off the block for $82,080. Market consensus is that the value of original rods will continue to climb dramatically.

To examine the Lentz roadster, the Golden Rod, is to take a step back in time. Rolled and pleated Naugahyde upholstery and a channeled body give it a Lakes look. Its hydraulic “juice” brakes and ’41 Ford spindles were popular period additions, along with the ’49 Mercury engine that has all the performance parts from the 1950s. They include dual Stromberg 97 carburetors on top of a Fenton intake manifold, finned Weiand heads and Mallory ignition.

The significant difference between most other old rods and Golden Rod is its originality. Hot rods were built by fabricators, and most have been altered and realtered over and over again, sometimes to stay in line with current rod fashion, other times just because the owner couldn’t help himself. Hot rods have always been a work in progress, so coming across one that never felt the warmth of a welding torch after it was originally built is exceedingly rare.

The current interest in old hot rods began in the early 1990s when Meguiar’s Award winner and long-time SCM subscriber Bruce Meyer began unearthing forgotten rods that had once appeared in Hot Rod Magazine, restoring them back to their original condition and taking them on the concours circuit. The creation of the Hot Rod class at Pebble Beach in 1997 was the ultimate affirmation of the significance and collectibility of these American icons.

When they become available for sale, the few original rods that exist are generally traded within a group of collectors who have known about the cars for decades. It is rare when one of these “survivors” appears at public auction like this, and the enthusiastic bidding this car engendered is proof of the desirability of this type of survivor. As in the other categories of the collector car market, the focus in hot rods has been on the most original ones. And to get that original patina, you’re going to have to pay.

While the casual collector may be priced out of this level of the hot rod market, cars are still being discovered, so when someone tells you that they’re thinking of selling the old Ford hot rod that’s been stashed in the back of the barn for the past thirty years, it’s in your best interest to go out and take a look.

(Historical data and photo courtesy of auction company.)

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