Rounding out Saratoga's collection of 15 historic hot rods, is the '32 Ford three-window coupe owned by Richie Whalen, Medford, Massachusetts. Whalen commissioned the Rolling Bones' Ken Schmidt and Keith Cornell to build a car that resembles a survivor that's just been dragged out of decades of not-so-benign storage. Its Brookville steel reproduction body was severely chopped, and a set of original '32 'rails was pinched, Z'd, and fitted with Model A crossmembers. The framehorns were bobbed, and a beamy '32 Ford front axle was supported with split wishbones. The wheelbase was stretched to 1091/2 inches. Under that weathered hood is a S.Co.T.-blown 286-cid Ford Flathead by H&H, with new-gen Stromberg 97s and a Vertex magneto. This car is a mix of vintage and new components, arranged to look appropriately old and authentic. A T5 transmission, Schroeder racing steering and Posies springs are big improvement over the stock Ford items.

The louvered roof insert is a Bobby Walden fabrication. Louvers Unlimited punched the hood and the decklid. A '39 banjo wheel, vintage gauges, and faded war surplus blankets ensure the interior looks very period. Ken Schmidt, an artist in his own right, created a distressed four-color, multi-layer finish using correct vintage Ford paint colors that look as though this car is weathered, cracked, battered, and decades old. Although Whalen's car isn't channeled, it has that combination East Coast/California look that fools most people into thinking it's a survivor, and not a freshly built car.

A.B. Shuman, former HRM editor, whose book, Cool Cars and Square Roll Bars, chronicles and celebrates East Coast hot rodding, along with legendary No-Mads Hot Rod Club member, Paul FitzGerald, and I hosted a big group of enthusiasts on opening night, last fall. My Massachusetts accent was back in spades as I enthusiastically introduced the "cahs," talking about each coupe and "roadsta." I'd seen most them when they were new. Little did I ever imagine, over 50 years later I'd be looking at them in a museum.

Hot rods are truly American icons. Ingenuity, craftsmanship, power, and speed underscore the provenance of these historic rods from the last mid-century. If you thrill to the roar of steel pack mufflers, delight in the rumble of a Flathead V-8, hate fenders, love chopped tops, and think any stock old Ford is ripe for modifications, you will dig this exhibit.

Saratoga Auto Museum
110 Avenue of the Pines
Saratoga Springs
NY  12866