In 1962, Al Strong decided he wanted an older car to hot-rod-one that could beat his friend Terry Walstrom's '57 Chevy and could really lay rubber as well. Al had been looking at a '24 Dodge coupe in a farmer's yard that was for sale for $25. As he looked for the right car, he remembered a '32 Ford five-window coupe body and frame sitting on the ground in a body shop parking lot. It belonged to Chet Mooney, a high school buddy, and when Al called to see if it was for sale, Chet asked Al how much he wanted to spend. Responding with $25 got a laugh out of Chet, as he needed $75 for it. You have to remember that in 1962, a '32 Ford was just another old car.
Several weeks later Chet called on a Sunday afternoon and asked if Al was still interested in the '32. The body shop had been sold and everything had to be gone that day. So, he paid Chet $25 and hauled the car home. Growing up in a single-parent home, Al's mom was very tolerant and put up with a lot. With that said, the body and frame were parked in the street in front of the house, where it sat until Al could get into the single-car garage. Their neighbors just shook their heads and smiled at what the young Strong boy had dragged home, again!
After combing the local wrecking yards for parts, the '32 started to take on a new life. The car was already chopped a massive 4 inches when they got it, and to be a proper race car it had to be channeled. Next came a '56 Buick 322ci Nailhead engine for $150 out of Bearson Auto Wrecking. Then a '39 transmission and rear axle were located at Ben's Auto Wrecking, and a '32 Ford windshield frame was found stuck in the mud at Johnson's Ford Specialties. About three months later, everything was just about bolted together. After Al and buddy John McCann worked at the Glisen Rocket Gas Station, where Al worked after school, to get it finished up, it finally fired up and came to life and got its first road test. According to Al, it burned rubber, hauled you-know-what, and was plenty scary.
With traffic conditions what they are today, it's hard to imagine that in 1962 there was almost no traffic, period. When it came time for the first big race, the car was running quite well and set to go against Terry Wahlstrom's notorious '57 Chevy. The time was set for after school on 82nd Avenue in front of Kings Drive-In. It seemed like half of Madison High School was there. They lined up on 82nd and a carhop named Jackie got between them, jumped into the air, yelled "go," and they were off. What a disappointing race for the spectators; the coupe blew the doors off the '57 so badly it was embarrassing. Now there was a new sheriff in town-the '32.
The old coupe was driven regularly until the Navy Seabees came calling for Al after graduation. It was stored in his mom's garage for a year or so and then over at a buddy's later. Friends wrote that they saw the car cruising Portland on the weekends, which it wasn't supposed to be doing. When Al arrived home, he discovered a cracked head most likely from overheating in traffic-he fixed it and went from there. The next step was to add dual-quad carburetors and Offenhauser aluminum valve covers to accentuate the seriousness of the chopped and channeled car.