From time to time I hear rumors of the impending doom of our industry: "Too old, too much legislation, too expensive." While I believe there is a modicum of truth in all of these comments, the doomsday and apocalyptic revelations are greatly exaggerated at the very least. Take a look at this issue and you will see that there are plenty of fresh and innovative designs, which in turn expand our industry and prove its health and growth.
For starters, the Signature '32 (steel replication of a 1932 Ford highboy roadster) from Speedway Motors once again drives the point home that the Deuce roadster is, has been, and may very well be the quintessential street rod for all time. That's not to say everyone wants to build or even own a 1932 highboy, or coupe, or sedan, or for that matter even a Ford, but it does illustrate the apparent popularity of the Deuce. It also says companies such as Speedway who have done their homework believe our hobby can be expanded to even greater enthusiast horizons. There are plenty of future rodders who are looking for a way to join the street rod ranks and the Signature '32 is an excellent example of rodding material that anyone can handle.
To further my case in point: A car that we have seen little of during the past decade is the Model T. I can remember throughout the '70s the Model T was one of the staples of the rodding world. The combination of T-buckets and T-tourings dotted the rodding landscape at any and all events. I can remember thumbing through Hemmings in the '70s looking for Model A roadster pickup parts (my personal favorite) and having to wade through literally dozens of pages of Model T parts and cars. Not so anymore.
However, I believe the Model T is about to enjoy a rebirth, if you will. As with any evolution, the end result will not be a duplication of its past but rather an adaptation for its future. The new Model T will be more in line with the demands of today's rodders. We believe the effort put forth by Jon Hall in his big red T will make this point.
Ironically, while Hall is gearing up to produce these steel-bodied Ts, we are seeing more and more "buckets" in the form of lakes modifieds, the traditional Grabowski-style T-bucket, and even a few coupes, are beginning to leave garages from all over the country. And wouldn't you know it, at this year's Starbird Tulsa event a replication of the famous Darryl Starbird's Monogram Big T was constructed in full scale, given and driven away.
The new Hall big T is the outcropping of what rodders want today. Variety and variation on a proven theme, whether it's a Model A or a Deuce, both look good as a fenderless street rod resting on a set of '32 'rails. So, if it's good enough for the Model A and the Deuce, it should then work on the Model T, and it does. Look at this month's feature and I can guarantee you will appreciate the proportions of the Big T. The Hall big T retains the faithful lines of the Model T, yet through the gently enlarged body panels that fit (both figuratively and literally) rodders of today. The larger car easily adapts to our physical needs and takes into account the rodders' styling taste of today with the use of the '32 frame.
Also in this issue we take an early look at the Kelvin Waddington's 1934 Australian Ute. Coming from Down Under, this steel Ute (utility vehicle) is commonplace to our Australian rodding buddies but rarely seen here in the States. Resist the temptation to call it a roadster pickup even though it may appear to be such. It is a Ute, making it another body style for rodders to base their efforts. We are told that Utes were the first Ford Rancheros, in which the bed and cab were one-piece, making it just a bit different and giving us another way to build.
I should probably give you a heads-up on a story coming next month in which we will show you how to put together a 1933-'34 roadster pickup that will come from the garage of Real Steel Inc., a division owned and operated by Steve's Auto Restorations, in Portland, Oregon. This is what a roadster pickup may have looked like had Ford put one together back then.
Between the Speedway Motors Signature '32, the Hall big red T, the 1934 Aussie Ute, and the RS phantom pickup, the list of steel-bodied options for rodders to work with keeps growing. Oh yes, did we mention the Dearborn Deuce 1932 Ford convertible built by ASC and the new '32 coupe body from Brookville Roadsters? There are alternatives, and according to each of these manufacturers, business is growing and reports tell us we are seeing a new breed of rodder. As Mark Twain once uttered, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Our industry is robust and all one has to do is visit rodding events from around the country and take note of how many new cars continually appear.