This project car came about in much the same way as many others. Its owner, J.J. Barnhardt, is a Los Angeles-based financial professional who has always loved hot rods-especially '32 roadsters. During J.J.'s childhood, his dad always had cool cars, although his preferences leaned heavily toward the sports car crowd, while J.J. always had a keen eye for real hot rods.
Even without its Brookville...
Even without its Brookville body in place, this rolling chassis clearly shows its detail and artistry. The injected Hemi, Rod Sexton's handcrafted stainless headers, a Winters quick-change, and ET Wheels all contribute to the finished product. (Photo by Randy Lorentzen)
A few years ago, J.J. purchased a '40 Ford coupe that needed some work, and a relationship began with Pete Chapouris and SO-CAL Speed Shop as a result. While discussing what was needed with the '40, J.J. couldn't help but notice there were several roadsters in various stages of assembly. After settling on the necessary work for the '40, the conversation turned toward '32 roadsters. Shortly thereafter, Pete and J.J. had hammered out a plan for this Hemi-fired Deuce highboy, and its creation was set in motion. Calling on his professional sensibilities, J.J. knew it would be best to start from scratch, rather than buy someone else's finished version of the car he'd wanted for a long time.
With the desire for traditional styling combined with contemporary craftsmanship, the SO-CAL crew began with one of their signature Step-Boxed chassis, which features recessed boxing plates that offer increased clearance for brake and fuel lines, power cables, and exhaust and steering components. In-house project manager and fabrication specialist Ryan Reed tackled the buildup from start to finish, engineering the crossmember to accommodate a Tremec five-speed transmission. Modifications were also necessary in the rear suspension to provide the proper stance, travel, and ride characteristics necessary for the Winters quick-change. Once the mighty Hemi was mocked up, Ryan cut exhaust dumps through the sides of the framerails that connect the exhaust system to Rod Sexton's handcrafted stainless steel headers.
Ryan took it from there, mounting the Magnum polished beam axle, Magnum spindles, multi-leaf spring, and Pete & Jake's shocks with SO-CAL batwings and hairpin radius rods. The front brakes also combine traditional styling with late-model functionality, as SO-CAL's '50s-style finned drum actually conceals a Wilwood dual-piston caliper and 11-inch vented rotor.
At the back end of this chassis, Ryan installed a Model A crossmember to provide extra clearance for the large center section on the Winters quick-change. Then, he custom-bent all the stainless brake lines and tucked them inside the Step-Boxed framerails, just like the SO-CAL catalog describes. Pete & Jake's shocks work along with a Model A rear spring assembly to cushion the bumps on those lousy roads we have here in Southern California. Then again, maybe J.J. blasts right over those bumps, as this thing is fitted with a 3.57:1 gear that spins its 31-spline axles right quick like.
Screaming with traditional...
Screaming with traditional appearance factors, Chrysler's 392 Hemi was the perfect choice to propel this project. Ryan Reed sliced off the lower portion of the firewall and handmade the replacement panel for additional engine clearance. Hilborn stack injectors harkens back to the late '50s as well, though these have been retrofitted with electronic management from FAST with custom hidden wiring and calibration by Steve Sbelgio of Eclipse Engineering.
That tasty but traditional theme dictated the use of Chrysler's venerable 392 Hemi of 1957 vintage. However, this is no junkyard dog. Ray Zellar handled the engine work, using a refurbished original, 3.900-inch stroke crank, King bearings, stock rods and Ross pistons, delivering a 9.25:1 compression ratio. An Isky cam and valvetrain kit completed the short block. The original cast cylinder heads were prepped and massaged by Bob Morgan, of Morgan Engineering. In his spare time, Morgan serves as crew chief for a Blown Alcohol A/Fuel Dragster competing in the Goodguys Vintage Racing Association. Next came that period-perfect induction system for this street-dancing Deuce.
These days, the quickest way to achieve the "wow factor" is to engineer and install a trick injection system on your street pleaser. Barnhardt and Chapouris decided the crowning touch for this 392 just had to be an early Hilborn injection system, retrofitted with today's electrical wizardry. That task was handled jointly between SO-CAL and Eclipse Engineering. Steve Sbelgio of Eclipse is a calibration and powertrain specialist who tweaks and tunes many of Southern California's high-profile projects, and Chapouris is a long-time friend and customer.
While the mechanicals were being sorted out, SO-CAL's Paco Castell was massaging the steel Brookville body. Working with him, Ryan performed the necessary modifications, including the hand-fabricated lower firewall portion for proper motor clearance issues. Then, he cut the lower dash and fabbed a seamless extension to accept SO-CAL's Auburn-style dash insert. Paco made sure each panel was worked for maximum smoothness, gaps perfectly aligned, and the doors and decklid were checked and rechecked for a premium fit. After just the right amount of sealer, primer/surfacer came next. Then, Paco loaded his paint cup with bright PPG Ferrari Yellow and flowed it on nice and smooth. After the body was mounted on the rolling chassis for the final time, the car was sent to Bloomington, California, where Gabe Lopez and crew stitched a subtle and traditional leather interior.
Final finishing took place back at the SO-CAL emporium, where taillights, King Bee headlights, and mirrors were secured in place. Then, a little bit of contrast took place as Dennis Ricklefs applied his talents in pinstriping to accent the bodylines. We think you'll agree that this one looks quite righteous with its throwback injected Hemi, bright yellow paint, and ET Wheels. That's why we call it trad (traditional), rad (radical), and bad!
Thirty-nine Ford (teardrop)...
Thirty-nine Ford (teardrop) taillights, external Deuce gas tank, and trunk latch work well with the early hot rod theme.
Other interior accessories...
Other interior accessories include a SO-CAL Auburn-style dash insert, Stewart Warner gauges, a Mullins column, and retro Budnik steering wheel.
Gabe Lopez, the preeminent...
Gabe Lopez, the preeminent Southern California interior specialist, stitched the glove-soft black leather. Starting with a seat frame from Glide Engineering, Lopez shaped and covered the foam and made storage pouches for both sides of the lower seat cushion.
Barhardt's prize is true to...
Barhardt's prize is true to its theme thanks to a smooth Magnum beam axle and hairpin radius rods. SO-CAL's faux finned drums conceal Wilwood disc brakes for much safer, modern stopping power.