The Norm Wallace channeled...
The Norm Wallace channeled '32 graced the cover of HRM in 1958. The magazine's editors praised the cars they saw on their East Coast tour. Fred Steele's Deuce is in the center, with exhausts running through the tail panel. You needed a top if you had a roadster in Massachusetts; it was always cold, except for a few months a year. In the foreground is the Andy Kassa coupe with its distinctive "Italian" air cleaners. They were actually made by a speed shop on Long Island.
We were able to assemble 15 great cars, 11 of which are channeled. All but one were built back in the day. Many were featured in major car magazines. The seminal '32 Ford roadster, built by Norm Wallace, loaned by Larry Hook, of Providence, Rhode Island, was a Hot Rod
magazine cover car in February 1958. It is on display pretty much as it was built, with the exception of a polished S.Co.T. blower added by its present owner. I recall that the Norm Wallace lowboy was considered one of the best '32s in New England in the '50s, and it remains a tribute to the fine build quality of many East Coast hot rods.
Paul "Fitzie" FitzGerald's '32 Ford roadster was another well-known car in its era. A member of the well-known Boston Area No-Mads Club, Fitzie was an engineering student who was constantly updating his ride, from a solid front axle to independent front suspension of his own design, from a series of hot Flatheads to an early Chevy small-block V-8, and from steel wheels to early Halibrands. He successfully drag-raced his roadster, competed (and usually won) in hill climbs, and garnered his share of show trophies. Fitzie sold his '32 years ago and regretted that move. So he painstakingly tracked down what remained of the car and reconstructed it using a few Brookville steel body components. The car was shown at Pebble Beach in 2007, helping celebrate the Deuce's 75th anniversary. Fitzie presently lives in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
If you attended any of the Joe Kizis Autoramas in the '50s, or a host of other shows, as I did, you couldn't miss the striking, chopped-and-channeled Ruby Red '32 Ford three-window coupe, owned and built by Andy Kassa. Its muscular four-carb Flathead, topped with a quartet of Ferrari-style aftermarket air cleaners, was a consistent trophy taker. Kassa continuously updated his car for the show circuit, even changing its color several times, and trailered it all over the country. When he retired from show competition, he held on to his old coupe for years. Just before Kassa died, the car was restored by a contingent of his loyal friends and admirers led by Gary Mekita and Dennis Dahlinger. Rebuilt at first with its unusual Barris-built "Cyclops" single headlight grille, it's recently been fitted with a full-sized, chrome-plated Deuce shell, restoring its trademark look from the '50s. Best of all, the iconic three-window is still based in North Jersey.
Here's the original hand-painted...
Here's the original hand-painted wooden sign that Andy Kassa used for his coupe back when it was called the "Jersey Gem." Features included reversed rims, Zepher (sic) gears, a handmade dash, airplane shocks, and Italian air cleaners (made on Long Island)-and they're all still on the car!
As a New England kid, I loved Fred Steele's severely chopped-and-channeled, metallic purple '32 Ford roadster. Its signature bored and stroked, four-carb Flathead, white pinstripes, and impossibly low top epitomized what I thought the perfect Deuce would be. Steele had worked out a deal with a Boston area plater to where nearly everything that could make it into a dip tank was chromed. While this roadster's functional Columbia two-speed rear would have been unusual for a West Coast car, it came in handy on Route 128 because Steele really liked to drive his roadster. He made it to a lot of shows, and I can close my eyes and see his Deuce rumbling into the parking lot at Nel-Nick Ford in Lynn, Massachusetts, during a Hi-Winders Club event in 1958. I thought it was the "cat's ass" back then, and I still do. It's loaned by Ross and Beth Myers, Three Dog Garage, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania.
Other cars on display include a barn find, rusty/dusty channeled '33 Ford roadster, originally built by Bill Schultz, who owned Country Club Auto Body, in Norton, Massachusetts. This car was last driven in 1962, after which Schultz covered it up in his garage so he wouldn't have to answer questions about whether it was for sale. (It wasn't.) Noted builder and ace parts finder, Dave Simard, from Leominster, Massachusetts, first learned about the car in 1975. Over time, Dave approached the Schultz family to tell them he was interested. After Schultz died, Simard was able to buy the car, looking just as it did when its builder tucked it away. Simard hasn't had time to get 312-cid Ford Y-block V-8 started (it still turns over). He doesn't want to lose this car's decades of patina. When the exhibit ends, Simard will sympathetically clean it up and get it running so people can see and appreciate this time-warp roadster.
Another heavily patina car in the Saratoga exhibit is a '32 Ford three-window coupe, formerly owned by Bill Kelly from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gerard Christensen, Scotch Plains, New Jersey, found it advertised in a local PennySaver newspaper. Christensen came up with a sweet deal, trading a lathe, a boat, other stuff, and a little cash for it. He had no idea of its history, but an old Pennsylvania registration, found in the car, led him to Bill Kelly, who was delighted to hear his coupe had survived. Kelly street-raced his Cad V-8-powered terror on Philly's Roosevelt Boulevard and at local dragstrips. Christensen had Dave Simard chop the top ("I always wanted a chopped-and-channeled '32 coupe," he confesses), but other than that mod, the primered and weathered Bill Kelly three-window remains almost exactly the way it looked when its first owner was winning races and outrunning the cops decades ago.
Gary Mekita, Dennis Dahlinger,...
Gary Mekita, Dennis Dahlinger, and a talented group of New Jersey-based friends restored Andy Kassa's seminal coupe. Thankfully, Kassa got to see their work before he died. Kassa showed this car all over the country. At one time it had a curious Cyclops nose that was built to upstage the Lil' Deuce Coupe of Clarence "Chili" Catallo.
Fred Steele's chopped-and-channeled...
Fred Steele's chopped-and-channeled Deuce roadster was a well-known car when I grew up north of Boston. Steele's four-carb Flattie, hammered canvas top, Caddy discs, and the car's Columbia rear were proof positive that East Coast guys did their own thing. Steele drove this car everywhere. Owned now by Ross Myers of Three Dog Garage, it's checked, cracked, and really cool. We dig that polished firewall. The bored and stroked Flathead in Fred Steele's Deuce displaces 296 cid. A quartet of Stromberg 97s handles the induction, and Edelbrock heads do the honors for compression. Note the plated tops. Steele had a deal with a chrome shop. Harman and Collins dual point, dual coil ignition is an authentic period touch. The headers are chromed and so is the steering box.
Bill Leslie saved everything,...
Bill Leslie saved everything, including the sign for his show car. There's a see-through "star-gaze" roof, a 303-cid Olds V-8, an early Buick three-speed, and tons of subtle and not-so-subtle mods on this '64 Buffalo Autorama winner. Then and now, that's how you score show points.