I sold my first hot rod, a ‘32 Plymouth coupe, in 1976. It was 1st built in 1958, into a 12” channeled roadster by cutting the 3 window top off, making handmade aluminum windshield posts, mounting it on a Ford Model frame, with a modified ’49 Cadillac engine attached to an early Ford trans and rear end. The dual cowl vents were filled, and the basic car was set up, but wasn’t driveable. The engine was the early ’49 block, but was bored out to ’56 specs at 365 ci with ported ‘58 heads and a ’57 4BBL intake. It had some really unusual, front disk brakes, which I learned much later, were the very rare Kinmonts. I purchased it in 1965, working on it slowly, while in high school and college. In 1971, I got fired up to get the car on the road, because the 3rd NSRA Street Rod Nationals would be held in Detroit in 1972. Inspired by the Bud Bryan, 29A highboy, Rod & Custom magazine, project car, I made great progress on the car. Back then, it was never even remotely considered that the car would be on the street, NOT painted and upholstered, despite what people are calling old school, now! The car was unchanneled 7 inches to only 5 inches, which required cutting open the doors to facilitate entry. A frenched rear license plate and twin, teardrop-shaped, sunken aerials were added. The tail lights were made from ’63 T Bird parking lights, turned upside down, with custom lenses. A set of chrome ‘53 Cadillac wire wheels were found, and I put on new Firestone bias ply tires. A set of NOS ‘34 Plymouth hubcaps replaced the Caddy ones.
I got the car on the road for the Nats, in July of ’72, painted and upholstered, but missing the decklid and grille shell. It was so neat to be a part of the 1,500 or so, rods that showed up at the State Fair grounds. This was really energizing, because we were now able to network with a bunch of other rodders from the Early Times, and Michigan Street Rod Association. It was a revelation that It wasn’t just me and a couple of close friends, anymore. There were lots of others that still believed in the old cars, and weren’t distracted by the factory muscle cars.
Improvements were made on the roadster each fall, before Autorama, including changing the steering from Model A, to Mustang, building a top, and trimming out the rumble seat and other detailing. We also had the rear wheels widened, painted orange, and mounted better ride and handling radial tires. I had it in 3 Autoramas, taking a 2nd, 3rd, 1st, and Best Street Roadster awards. The last time was in 1975, which was covered in the April ’76 issue of Hot Rod magazine, in their 2 page coverage of the Detroit show. It was in very good company- 2 Ridler winners, the Playboy Bunny van, The Chicago Fire, ISCA winner, Chuck Millers 1st Vette Sportwagon, the Binecki brother’s twin, radical ‘32 sedans, and Dave Lukkari’s Ardun-powered, tilt-body, ’47 Crosley sedan. Amazingly, that same engine was back in the show this year, but now in Dave’s well traveled, modified A roadster!