RUN BY Julian Balme
OWNED SINCE 2014
PREVIOUS REPORT July 2018
IS IT THE END OF THE ROADSTER?
Plans are afoot. Much as I love the simplicity and usability of the ’32, it just isn’t a hot rod. It makes the wrong noise – something akin to a Ford Granada – and it changes gears by itself. It’s also reliable and, although it’s much-loved by chums in the vintage hot-rod scene, it’s definitely seen as a Street Rod and a product of the late ’60s/early ’70s. My intention, come winter, is to turn the clock back a decade and recreate it as a would-be Rod & Custom cover car from 1962.
I’m still looking for further information on the roadster’s history, but what I do know is that it was built by a father and son by the name of Olson in Selma, northern California. I fancifully like the idea that he was the Kiwi mechanic who worked for Shelby American in the early days of the Cobra programme in Venice Beach and, in Johnny Cash style, built the car ‘one piece at a time’ from spares ‘found’ around the factory. A smallblock 260cu in V8 dressed with a 3x2 carb set-up and a Cobra ‘Powered by Ford’ sump, along with a Toploader four-speed transmission, have been earmarked for the rebuild – all of which have been gathering dust on my parts shelves for 30 years. Over last winter I gave the car to Deuce guru Jerry Denning to familiarise himself with it and assess how we might go about re-engineering it. His response wasn’t very positive, and for a nanosecond I actually considered parting company with the Ford.
The original 1932 chassis rails, though partially ‘boxed’ in true hot-rod practice, were in fact bent. The steering box was mounted so low that I would have lost the steering had I have suffered a blowout. A number of odd body repairs were curious rather than dangerous, the cowl vent in front of the windscreen being a prime example.
Once back in my garage I took Nitromors to part of this panel to see for myself. The vent had been removed at some point in the car’s life – again, common practice among rodders seeking a smooth look – but then had been reinstated later down the road. The resulting seam weld had barely been dressed and so a generous amount of plod was fashioned into creating the cowl’s contours. It might well be all Henry Ford steel, but it’s going to need a lot of massaging so we have decided to split the job into two parts: mechanical then cosmetics. Although, it could well be a long time before the latter is started and, with the Spitfire restoration still ongoing, the first stage won’t be happening until this winter.
All of this means the roadster has started another season in its reliable- but-pedestrian guise. A chilly but sunny fifth ‘Gourmet Roadster Reliability Run’ in April led our merry band to Dorset, highlights including the deserted village of Tyneham, the Pig on the Beach and a visit to flathead engine-builder Jim Turnbull of Royal Kustoms fame. A month later, we took the roadster to the Red Rooster music festival at Euston Hall in Suffolk, where it joined 20 other hot rods in a line-up leading to the entrance. In June, the ’32 joined its stablemates at the London Concours before being driven to Devon and its summer residency. Winter and its next incarnation are not far off.
THANKS TO Jerry Denning and Colin Mullan
Creating an entrance at Red Rooster fest Cowl reveals previous owner’s handiwork. Summer in Devon and trip across Dartmoor. Members of GRRR 5 gather in the Tyneham viewpoint car park, with Studland and the English Channel for a backdrop.