I've had the '32 for what must be going on 10yrs now, and up until the last two where it's been off the road I've loved every second of it, there's just something different about hotrodding with no roof, those that run an open-top will know what I mean. So after thousands of miles the ol' girls starting to look a bit rough round the edges, so a full rebuild was the order of the day... or so I thought!
I started to pull the '32 apart, and that's about as far as it got, what seemed like 5 mins later I decided to shelve it for a while, a certain '57 Chevy took over my spare time, a long, long dream of owning a 'Roarin' Rat' lookalike was full filled, and the cars now sold... so back to the roadster! I'd been buying parts for the car over the last two years or more, I wanted to get most of the parts I needed so when I started again there should be no hold ups hopefully.
I bought the car out of the CC adds from a chap called Peter Stevens, he was a main figure at British Leyland and had a small collection of cars but had decided for some reason to sell on the '32, I paid him his £3000, ( I know, more or less pinched it!), fired the old girl up and started the long trek home, it never made it, boiling up and all sorts of problems, so the RAC were called and we got home eventually.
Here's a pic of just bought...
The Russ Carpenter built 2.5L Daimler V8 was about shot, I paid fortunes for things like plugs, points, condenser etc, tried to fit a modified manifold with a 390cfm Holley which was in the boot, but all to no avail really, I smoked it about locally but wanted something a bit quicker, a bit more reliable, so the hunt for a SBC was in order, A pal Eddie (Andromeda) Brown gave me what turned out to be a brilliant little 305ci motor, endless miles on that engine and never missed a beat, that was until I forgot to check the anti-freeze and the block froze and cracked in two places; what a prick! I bought another motor, this time a 350ci with 4-bolt mains and fully rebuilt, it was placed in the garage while I was ready to make a start again on the car.
Back in the day, well Jan '82 actually, the roadster was an old show car and featured in many a magazine both here in the UK and Europe, '82 though was the year that Custom Car decided a front cover and full feature was to be done, this was good as I've got the mag and it gives me a lot of reference to look at when I get round to starting on it again.
Jan '82, CC feature...
I've run it in about as many different guises as I can manage with the things I collected over the years, bonnet top on/off, red/red n flames, steelies/slots/5-spokes, I've had fawn/black interiors, changed it as much as I could, I've now run out of stuff and ideas.
I even hand-made a flamed bonnet for it, I saw plenty in the States and loved 'em, didn't go down to well over here for some reason, good job I build my cars for me and not everybody else, here it is on the road coming back from Billing one year, me and my son Nicky, just lovin' it!...
So I'm at the stage where the '57's gone, there's now the space in the garage I've been desperate for, and a good wedge in the bank to spend on the parts and bits an bobs I need to finish it.
The weekend after the '57 had been collected I was in the garage, I couldn't wait to make a start... so here we go, no race to finish, just steady away and it's done when it's done asap. My idea this time is to try and restore it back to it's original '82 feature, thing is though with having already swapped out the Daimler for the Chevrolet I couldn't make it totally authentic to the feature, so a bit of 'artistic license' is in order, it will be recognisable to the feature but with a 'Micky T' twist, I don't like the idea of having to stick with something without installing a bit of yourself in it, the car reflects you right?
I bought some wheel dollies to sit the car in, makes it real easy to maneuver it about, got it in a workable position and first thing was to fit the wheels I'm gonna run on it. I managed to get hold of a pair of 4" x 15" polished Fentons, which are the same as the car had when first built, but the rears were going to be different, originally they were 8" x 15" slots with 60 series General Grabber tyres, this time round I'm gonna use my absolute favorite combination, an 11" x 15" American Racing slot with a Pro-Trac N50 tyre, and it's got to have the bit of tyre stuck out from the bodywork... oh yes"!
I also found a magazine when the car was silver and owned by the '34 Corner/Rodline man himself Chris Boyle, in these pics the rear fenders are shortened, but with a curved edge rather than the 'bobbed' look, so I cut some fiberglass and matted in pieces to bring the edges down, it looks rough now but don't worry, it'll be fine when it's all smoothed out.
Just the right amount of tyre sticking out in my opinion...
Here you'll see the difference between the two, gives more bodywork to the rear when painted, should look alot fuller from behind. I've piled on the fiberglass matt and resin so there's plenty to rub down, then add some underneath and it will never crack.
After that I refitted the radiator, I had to do this as the grill shell bolts to it and wanted a trial fit with the hood.
I bought an original '32 4-piece hood from a guy who said it was to nice to cut up; guess what? It needs trimming here and there and a piece adding to it, but hey it's only 80 odd years old, not as though it's new is it!
Luckily it's the same amount both sides so all will look equal when finished, remember it's an old Geoff Jago body from the 70's, so it's lucky to resemble a '32 Ford roadster at all!
I'm gonna have a full day on that, so I'm leaving it for now and fill the rest of the day with hopefully the screen and roof.
I'd bought from 'Geordie Paul' at Duksville, a pair of new windscreen posts and a screen surround, this turned out to be a nightmare to fit as I found out when I had a go at it before. I found out that the Jago '32 roadsters were actually moulded from a '32 cabriolet, the 'cab' being 1" wider than the roadster. I tried and tried to fit the screen posts, making numerous holes in the cowl, but no they wouldn't fit, even after making my cowl section look like a culender, not to worry I love working with fibreglass. I gave the surround to my pal Steve Lang, who duely widened it by said 1", I collected it off him months ago and never got round to doing anything to it, so out of the box and had a go, it went straight in no problem, all gaps are perfect and the screen rubber just tightens onto the cowl as it should to stop rain coming in.
With that job done it was onto the roof, again from Duksville I purchased a 'Kwikfit, Easy-Up roof assembly, it said on the instructions with limited tools and knowledge you should have this fitted in a couple of hours; you know what? They were right!
You fix together the hinge sides and then attach the roof curves and cut the cross pieces to length and done, it really is that easy.
All the pieces are colour coded, it's like a jig-saw really, just follow the rules and it's done.
The roof frame locates on top of the screen posts, this is the time when you find if everything is lined up correctly, the wooden top bow is then measured for center and screwed in place.
Now believe it or not, there's forums out there that discuss the ideal shape of a roadster roof, so I had a look in, wrote down their description and laid a wide piece of tape over the framework and stood back to take a look.
According to the 'manual', it should have a slight rise from the screen to the first roof bow, mine does, it should then have a drop down to the second bow that's less than from the screen, mine does, from there it should angle down to the bodywork but not straight up, again, mine does! Honestly, pages and pages of people discussing the rights and wrongs of roadster roof shapes, apparently mine fits the bill ok. I tried it for size obviously, and I'm in with plenty of head room, fits a treat.
So all in all a good day, my old roadster is taking shape, it's gonna be well different from before, a nice mixture of a restoration and my ideas with slight changes.
Fingers crossed it won't be to long before you see this in your rear view mirror.
I'm off in the garage now for a full day hopefully on the hood, see if I can get that looking something like.
Over the years I've had numerous cars and a few at the same time which is wrong to me, you can't drive more than one at once, but you know when you get that feeling for a car and it feels just sooo right, well my roadster is that car, it feels just so right to be working on it again and full of enthusiasm for it, knowing that I'll be out and about in it again pretty soon, right, I'm off!
Micky T. 8-)