Hot rodding 101: Back to the basics with a 1932 Ford 4-cylinder
(from Old Cars Weekly, November 30, 2000, page 25)
Hot rodding 101: Back to the basics
with a 1932 Ford 4-cylinder
By Albert Drake
How good was the 1932 Ford four cylinder engine and car? Darn good, if Stan Ochs' hot rod is typical.
In addition to hundreds of miles of in-town driving, the little roadster has been driven thousands of miles on road trips over mountains and across deserts, in all kinds of weather, and has never faltered.
Stan started out building a modern roadster with a Chevrolet V-8, automatic transmission and disc brakes - a car that would carry him long distances in relative comfort. He bought a Wescott 1932 roadster body, a reproduction '32 Ford frame, and assembled a chrome-plated front end with disc brakes.
Then he found a 1932 Ford chassis at a swap meet and his plans abruptly changed. The chassis had never been modified. It came with the original front and rear ends, mechanical brakes and a Model B 4-cylinder engine with an updraft Zenith carburetor.
Stan brought it home, sold the items he wouldn't use and assembled the chassis using the original steering, radiator, support rods and other parts. The car he now had in mind was the opposite of the high-tech rod he had intended.
Stan mounted the Wescott body on the frame rails. He dug out parts from his garage he'd had for years. He was building an era car, and the only criterion was that the parts had to have been available circa 1937 (of necessity, Stan decided that reproduction parts were acceptable if they conformed to the time period).
He already had a reproduction hood, grill shell and insert parts that fit as snugly if they'd been made by Henry Ford himself. He also had 16 inch Kelsey-Hayes wheels that he powder-coated red. He mounted a set of Firestone blackwall tires on them; 5.5x16 for the front and 7x16 for the back.
The headlights were mounted the way hot rodders did before mass produced headlight stands. Stan found a beat-up Model "A" headlight bar, cut off the center section and bolted the ends to the frame.
He could easily and understandably have fudged the tail lights and used the popular 1939 Ford lights (which actually came out in 1938), but he wanted the car to be true to the year 1937. He bought a pair of reproduction 1932 Ford tail lights -- both right hand lights, withont the license plate light -- and made a pair of brackets from stainless angle.
The lights are neat, simple and similar to what home mechanics made 60 plus years ago.
Two period pieces are the banjo steeriog wheel and the old four-gauge Stewart-Warner dash panel. The winged gauges, though, are readily available, as is the LeBaron-Bonney upholstery kit.
These piece combine to give the car's cockpit its old-time look.
What the car does not have is a four-bar setup, billet aluminum, chrome-plated running gear or speed equipment on the engine. Stan didn't even see the need to paint the chassis or body.
This is a car that looks amazingly like the funky, unadorned souped-up jobs of the 1930s.
Stan assembled the car in short time while on vacation. Late on a Thursday he got the car running and wired the lights. On Friday, he drove to the Department of Motor Vehicles and with surprising ease got it titled and licensed.
Early Saturday he threw his sleeping bag and a few other essential items in the trunk and, without even a shakedown cruise, he set out alone for the 50th Bonneville Speed Trials in Utah. The little four hanger cruised at 2,000 rpm, or about 52 inph, mile after mile.
The car made the 1,800-mile trip without a glitch and rode comfortably, dne to the original 1932 Ford buggy springs and four-wheel lever action shocks.
At Bonneville, it actually set a record of sorts. Not for blazing speed on the salt flats in Utah, but for the number of admirers it attracted when parked with the high-buck cars in front of, the Stateline Casino in Wenclover.