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  •   Julian Balme reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    1932 #Ford-Roadster
    Run by Julian Balme
    Owned since May 2014
    Total mileage unknown
    Miles since acquisition 56
    Latest costs #Ford Roadster £698


    I’ve worked out that on the few occasions in my life that I’ve been hit by a cataclysmic emotional tsunami, my instant reaction is to buy a car. At the age of 11 when my father suddenly died, my collection of Corgi cars swelled overnight as I tried to compensate for the chasm left in my childhood. My mother had always assumed that once she passed on, I’d buy an #Aston-Martin-DB5 with the proceeds of her house sale and, though she’d underestimated the stratospheric rise in that particular car’s value, she wasn’t far off - the #1940 #Lincoln-Continental arrived shortly after her death. And now with the criminally premature passing of my wife Karen, I find myself with the keys to another new motor car.

    Maybe it was a sense of ‘doing today rather than waiting for tomorrow' that precipitated the purchase, but when Billy at NAMCO mentioned to me that he knew of a 1932 roadster for sale, I was actually interested to the point of going to see it. Prices for genuine #1932 Fords have sky-rocketed and I'd rather given up on the idea of ever owning one, but curiosity got the better of me. The vendor, Paul Hobby, had found the car last year at the LA Roadster Show in California, brought it to the UK thinking he was going to incorporate it into a hot rod he was building, then changed his mind.

    There was little history with the car, so I’d be grateful if any American readers could shed any light on its background, but what I do know is that it has been a hot rod for over 45 years. It was built by a father and son in Selma, California, and I’d like to think (fancifully) that the senior partner was the same John Ohlsen who worked for Ian Walker and Shelby American in the ’60s. It then passed to Parvin Rusell in Carlsbad, CA and it was from him that Hobby acquired the car.

    When the rod was first modified in the late 1960s or early 70s, the fashion for ‘resto rods' was to keep as much of the original car as possible, so things such as the cowl vent, running boards, bumpers, rear and sidelights have all been retained. The only body mods are the filling and peaking of the radiator grille shell and the top half of the hood being swapped out for a louvred Rootlieb item. Other than that, it is all genuine #1932 #Henry-Ford steel, though sadly in #2007 it was painted a pinky-orange that makes the body look like glassfibre anyway.

    That’s the good news. The bad news is that the drivetrain - a 1980-1985 Buick V6 engine coupled to an automatic transmission - is not to my taste at all. It goes really well, but GM parts in a Ford is just wrong. And proper hot rods should have three pedals. Rusell obviously used the car a lot (reputedly more than 80,000 miles) so he probably enjoyed the economy of the six-cylinder motor and the comfort of the radial tyres. I hate radials on older cars, so the first change I made was to fit 1in whitewall BF Goodrich Silvertown biased-ply tyres. That and the fitting of ’60s-style California licence plates.

    Apart from the attractive price, scarcity, and the fact that no one in the UK had seen the car, the deal clincher was a cutting found among the photos and receipts that came with it. A local paper had published a picture of the roadster parked up in a Californian street-probably to fill space rather than to relate worthy news (see inset). The location was Hermosa Beach in the South Bay of Los Angeles, the very first place Karen and I visited on the West Coast of the US and from where we set out together on our 27-year love affair with California. Its climate, geography, architecture, history, films, music, art, car culture and... its hot rods.

    A long way from CA: with the ex-Dean Lowe roadster pick-up, a former #Hot-Rod cover car.
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  •   Ben Koflach reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Rodders line up outside the wonderfully preserved Horsted Keynes railway station, where full use was made of the coal fire.

    Rad cowl shows traces of filled cap hole.
    Panels removed to provide access to fan.
    Resisting the urge for an impromptu race at Dungeness.
    Brake woes are now sorted.

    / #Ford-Roadster / #Ford / #1932
    Run by Julian Balme
    Owned since May 2014
    Total mileage unknown
    Miles since March
    2015 report 612
    Latest costs nil.


    The last time that I wrote about the ’1932, I had just taken part in the VSCC’s Pomeroy Trophy. That marked the start of an eventful year with the car, particularly during the months that are optimistically regarded as British summertime.

    Maintenance was kept to a bare minimum but I did replace the electric fan. The task was more involved than with a normal car, but far more rewarding because of the Ford’s simple construction – and the fact that I found a replacement unit sitting on a shelf in the garage, already paid for. There are not many vehicles that require half the front sheet-metal removing in order to access the rear of the rad, though. I was tickled during the process to find the original grille shell – a rare and prized item – had been filled where the radiator cap had been. A textbook example of the customiser’s art.

    When turned into a hot rod, the roadster was built with long trips, comfort and economy in mind rather than outright speed. As a result, it makes all the wrong noises but is more than content to visit Sainsbury’s – as it has on occasion.

    I mentioned in my first report on the Ford that it was very much a bereavement purchase and subsequently, as a way of acknowledging my wife Karen’s passing, I’ve found myself organising an annual reliability run for the closest of chums.

    Last year we spent a weekend in the Cotswolds visiting places of automotive and cultural interest, ranging from Tim Dutton’s Bugatti haven to the Compton Verney art gallery.

    This year, we headed off to the south coast and rented a beach house in Winchelsea. From there, we undertook a similarly scenic and even greater culinary loop of the East Sussex countryside. Our ‘ultimate man-cave’ was CKL, just outside Battle, where Ben Shuckburgh kindly gave up his Saturday morning to show us some of the amazing kit being worked on and stored there. The seductive array of Jaguars went down well but it was a race-prepped Allard J2 that got the greatest scrutiny from the rodders, to whom the combination of Cadillac speed equipment and ’40s Ford components was all too familiar.

    By sticking to back roads, we managed to avoid the traffic, our convoy being greeted surprisingly enthusiastically by the occasional dog walker or horse rider along the way. Ironically, one of the only cars we encountered on the country lanes was driven by E-type guru Henry Pearman of Eagle GB.

    The route took us up to Horsted Keynes station on the Bluebell Railway, where we were warmly welcomedby the volunteers running the heritage steam line, although the waiting-room coal fire was even more popular with us. By the time that we returned to the coast, we had chalked up about 80 stress-free miles with no major issues. The other four cars making up the run would all be heading off to Pendine for the Vintage Hot Rod Association’s annual blast six weeks later, so for them it was a welcome shakedown. As for me, I was trying to find out why I had an increasingly spongy brake pedal.

    Confidence in the ability to stop being far from overrated in a car with automatic transmission, my mate Steve and I hastily bled the system before heading out the next morning. The result was a much firmer pedal and it started to deteriorate only after our Sunday visit to Dungeness and during the slog back to London.

    Closer inspection in the comfort of my own garage revealed that the nearside front flexible hose was not only twisted where it met the caliper, but was also rubbing on one of the trailing arms. On taking the braided pipe off, I had to remove a small L-shaped steel line attached to it as well as a union mounted to the chassis. At first I thought that in my usual hamfisted way I had snapped the pipe but, as I looked closer, I couldn’t find any traces of a flared end. The pipe had been interference fitted into the union adjoining the flexible line!

    Colin Mullan made me a new copper line and a trip to Think Automotive, which is just around the corner from him, provided two new flexible pipes for both sides of the front end. I’ve yet to find time to fit them, but once done summer might finally have arrived.
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