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.
Driving the car around Portland was beginning to be a pain. Portland's Finest always seemed to be about a block behind, waiting for an opportunity to pull him over and have a little chat-it was time for a change. It was decided to make the '32 a C-altered drag race car and get serious about drag racing. The chassis was changed, and the engine became a small-block Chevy 327 and was finished off with a Torqueflight transmission and Chevy rear axle. The engine was set back 25 percent of the wheelbase and the rear axle moved forward like a Funny Car. This necessitated center steering so Al could get in and out of the car. During the second year of racing, the engine was radically built, with a Crower cam, Crower port fuel injection, a Clutch Flight transmission, and Pontiac rear axle. The car was much more competitive, turning low 10-second quarter-miles. That 327 survived four years of drag racing and is still in the car today, but detuned for the street.
Drag racing was getting to be very expensive, so the decision was made to take a year off and reevaluate what was to be done. That year turned into 12 and the car sat waiting for something to happen. During that time the car would probably have been sold if anyone had shown an interest. In 1980, Al decided to redo the car and make a nice street rod. Beverly Hills Street Rods built a reproduction chassis while the body received an acid dip to remove paint and rust. It then spent six months in Tom Black's garage getting unchanneled and patch panels repaired, etc. It then took nearly seven years to find everything necessary at swap meets to get it back where it needed to be. The car was painted and assembled in Al's garage. Five years later, after experiencing numerous overheating problems with the engine, the car was torn down. The engine was moved back 2 inches and up 2 1/2 inches to get a real fan and shroud on it. That meant a new Bitchin' firewall and floorboards, modifying the exhaust and redoing the steering.
Twenty-five years after Al bought the car, his younger brother, Dale, went to his 25-year high school reunion, where he ran into Ed Mooney-Chet Mooney's brother-who Al bought the car from. They started talking about the car and he mentioned that there were still some '32 parts in his mother's shed. He called Ed and he managed to find the original dash from the '32. After some discussion, Al paid Ed $25 for the original dash-the same price Al paid for the car in the first place!
The body was again removed from the frame for a complete rebuild in 2005. Kevin Bischoff of Kevin's Restorations did some body repairs, refit the doors, and painted it. At brother Dale's suggestion, stainless steel fasteners and a grille insert were added, and the package tray removed. Other upgrades included a Glide seat, ididit column, and The Wheel Shoppe steering wheel. Also replaced were the headliner, door panels, and glass, and American Racing Salt Flat Special wheels shod in BFGoodrich tires were added.
Al Strong has managed to do what many of us wish we had done, and that is still own his high school car.
Fact & Figures
1932 Ford three-window coupe
|Frame / Manufacturer ||1932 Ford / Beverly Hills Street Rods |
|Wheelbase ||106" |
|Chassis plumbing ||stainless |
|Rearend / Ratio ||Ford 9" / 3.70 |
|Rear suspension ||'32 leaf w/ ladder bars by owner |
|Rear brakes ||Ford drum |
|Front suspension ||Total Cost Involved (Ontario, CA) |
|Front brakes ||11" disc |
|Master cylinder ||Mustang |
|Steering box ||Vega |
|Front wheel make, size ||American Racing (Rancho Dominguez, CA) Salt Flat, 15x7" |
|Rear wheel make, size ||American Racing Salt Flat, 15x8" |
|Front tire make, size ||BFGoodrich, P185/65R15 |
|Rear tire make, size ||BFGoodrich, P235/75R15 |
|Gas tank ||original |
|Make ||GM 1962 Corvette |
|Displacement ||327ci |
|Machining / Assembly ||Dan Maples Machine (Portland, OR) & owner |
|Crankshaft ||steel, polished |
|Camshaft ||Corvette hydraulic |
|Water pump ||Corvette aluminum |
|Cooling fan ||Flex-a-lite (Puyallup, WA) |
|Radiator ||Walker Radiator (Memphis, TN) |
|Alternator ||Delco |
|Heads ||GM FI |
|Valves / Springs ||Pontiac |
|Valve covers ||Corvette polished |
|Manifold / Induction ||Edelbrock (Torrance, CA) Performer |
|Ignition / Wires ||GM single-point |
|Headers ||GM |
|Exhaust / Mufflers ||2" ceramic coated glasspack by Orchards Muffler (Orchards, WA) |
|Make ||1968 four-speed |
|Clutch ||disc Centerforce (Prescott, AZ) |
|Shifter ||Hurst custom lever by owner |
|Driveshaft ||Driveline Service (Portland, OR) |
|Body style / Material ||five-window coupe, steel |
|Body manufacturer ||Ford |
|Body mods ||4" top chop, welded hinges, molded rear panel & no fender welt |
|Hood ||Rootlieb (Turlock, CA) |
|Grille ||original polished stainless steel insert |
|Bodywork ||Kevin Bischoff |
|Paint type / Color ||Spies-Heckor Viper Red |
|Painter ||Kevin Bischoff, Kevin's Restorations (Vancouver, WA) |
|Dashboard ||original |
|Insert / Gauges ||aluminum / Classic Instruments (Boyne City, MI) |
|Stereo / Speakers ||Sony |
|Air conditioning ||Air-Tique (Cleburne, TX) |
|Wiring ||Ron Francis Wiring (Chester, PA) |
|Steering wheel ||The Wheel Shoppe (Portland, OR) |
|Steering column ||ididit (Tecumseh, MI) |
|Seats ||Glide Engineering (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) |
|Upholsterer ||Mark Fischer (Portland, OR) |
|Material / Color ||mohair / brown |
|Carpet / color ||square weave / camel |
|Seatbelts ||lap |