Growing up in California's Central Valley in the 1950s, Howard Michels' life as a teenager mirrored that of the movie "American Graffiti." Cruising 10th Street in Modesto or the Avenue in Stockton, Howard and his friends were the real-life John Milners and Bob Falfas. Howard's love for all things auto began at the tender age of 14 when he acquired his first car, a '49 Ford convertible. That '49 and another Model A served him well until 1968, when he bought his first '32-a five-window with a Flathead. A few years later he ditched the Flathead for a 283ci Chevy. Then in the mid-'80s, the coupe received a complete rebuild. He says the coupe is the love of his life, but he has always longed for a roadster.
Like a lot of hot rodders today, Howard found that he couldn't afford a good, original body and what he could afford was too far gone for the caliber of car he wanted to build. Noting the development of the Brookville line of reproduction steel bodies, he decided to put in an order for body number 137. Having been collecting parts for a time, he already had an original Deuce frame as well as a '55 Olds 324ci engine with a four-speed hydramatic trans. His plans were to build a nostalgic hot rod similar to the ones he remembered seeing cruising the boulevard back in his high school days.
Howard set off building his dream car, first by modifying and repairing the stock '32 frame. He replaced the stock front crossmember with a Model A unit, modified the center crossmember, and boxed the frame. A cross-steer Flaming River box was mated to a dropped and drilled axle and split '32 wishbones. The Ford spindles mount Halibrand wheels with Wilwood four-piston disc brakes, inconspicuously hidden by modified frying pans. Out back, a 9-inch Ford rearend carries a Strange aluminum center section with Buick drums hung off a '41 Ford transverse leaf spring.
For the drivetrain, Howard had the '55 Olds 324ci engine rebuilt and used a set of '56 Olds heads due to their larger valves and higher compression ratio. A Daytona cam, polished Edelbrock 4x2 intake with Retrotek EFI, Mallory distributor, chrome valve covers, and Cermakrome-coated exhaust round off the engine. Howard decided to go with a more modern 700-R4 trans instead of the stock Olds Hydro.
The Brookville body was shipped in pieces, so before any paintwork was to begin, Howard had the task of assembling the body first. Once assembled, he modified a few of the panels to fit just right, and then sprayed the body in PPG Victory red and black. The chassis was also sprayed using PPG's Concept powder blue paint. Once the paint was dry, the roadster was sent out to Leon's Auto Upholstery where Leon Jones stitched up custom-dyed leather to match the red paint. Moon gauges in an engine-turned Auburn panel, a Schroeder steering wheel, stock column, and original dash knobs finish off the interior.
Howard's nostalgic roadster went off nearly without a hitch, although he does admit that his original plan of spending around $20K was slightly unreal. Though the finished product exceeded that original limit, we're sure he wouldn't have changed a thing.
Scotty Troutman's Spare-Time DeuceScotty Troutman has one of those jobs many of us wish we had. When the rest of us are diligently working at our desks or sweating out in the summer heat, Scotty's building hot rods for a living at Alloway's Hot Rod Shop in Knoxville, Tennessee. Those guys are turning out some of the nicest cars in the country on a daily basis . About the only drawback he can attest to is the fact that it's hard to work on cars all day long and still be motivated to go home and work on cars at night. But it's working on customer's cars day in and day out that motivated him to use his talent to build his own car.
The base of Scotty's hot rod is an Alloway's chassis with a Currie 9-inch Ford rear and Pete & Jake's frontend with a 5-inch dropped axle. The chassis was stretched 3 inches before the suspension was hung and the 427ci Chevy big-block and TH350 trans were dropped in between the 'rails. American Racing polished five-spokes sit at all four corners, 15x4s up front and 18x10s out back.
Working for Alloway's, it was only fitting to use a Rat's Glass fiberglass '32 roadster body for his build. The body was channeled an inch and a half and a removable top was also made. Scotty handled all the bodywork himself, from prep to finish, including spraying the DuPont 2004 Mazda silver paint. Once Scotty finished the rub-out on the paint, Steve Holcomb at Pro Auto was contacted to stitch up the red leather upholstery, which included building custom door panels and a bench seat.
When Scotty began building his roadster, he said one of his goals was to build a car that looked like those that were coming out of Alloway's shop. Spending nights and weekends working on his silver Deuce, Scotty's done an excellent job in reaching his goal!