Dennis Varni's heavily hammered '32 Ford Tudor could have rolled out of L.A. back in the '40s-or maybe just out of somebody's garage after a 50-year slumber. Like all the hot rods from the Rolling Bones Hot Rod Shop in Ballston Spa, New York, it just oozes attitude. As this car proves, Ken Schmidt and Keith Cornell keep turning out one great car after another.
After Dennis met Ken Schmidt and Keith Cornell at Bonneville, he called and asked them to build this Tudor. Naturally, it has the patented Rolling Bones severe chop-5 1/2 inches in the front, 5 inches in the rear-Z'd frame, and bulldog front end, with a heavy '32 front axle modeled after the Doane Spencer '32.
The sedan's artfully weathered black finish and red scallops are a throwback, and the 241-cid, Dodge Little Red Ram Hemi is the perfect old-style powerplant, with its three-carb Offenhauser manifold and Scintilla Vertex magneto ignition. It puts out about 250 bhp and sounds great with the Bones-required straight pipes. "I sent them the solid lifter and Isky-cammed engine done by Zauda Motors in Santa Rosa," Dennis said. "They installed a T5 from a Chevy S10, so you can cruise all day in Fifth.
"They put the gas tank in the back seat," he continued. "You access it through the window. We used old blankets for the seats, and I had [Rolling Bones] put the mohair back in the doors and the chicken wire back in the roof. The chop creates a blind spot. They don't use mirrors, but I put a Ford commercial mirror on the driver side."
There is a feast of vintage detail everywhere you look. That includes a speedboat panel with vintage Stewart Warner gauges, the old-style generator (there's a Chrysler badge on it, but it's actually from a Case tractor) with an integral tach drive, and a highly ventilated top insert (from a 1950 Jeep wagon) with 243 (count 'em!) louvers.
The slightly wedged, armored-car chop, very aggressive stance, low-mounted Guide lights, and severe rubber rake make this sedan look as though it's going downhill-fast. All the Bones touches are there: Schroeder race car steering with a prominent draglink, a Bell wheel, old chrome (if there is any plating), finned brake drums, a Model T spring over a quick-change rear, a khaki blanket interior, an art-deco '40 Ford Deluxe wheel, and, of course, the much-coveted Rolling Bones smirking skull radiator cap.
"I've always been a roadster guy," said Dennis, "but when I saw those two coupes at Bonneville, I thought they really had the look. Then I rode in one of them, and that's all it took. Ken and Keith had been gathering parts for the Tudor project. I bought a V-8 quick-change and told 'em, 'Take this back to New York. If we do a car, we've already got the rearend. If we don't, then there's no hard feelings.'
"I wanted a set of old Halibrand Indy wheels on the car, with Dunlop racing tires," Dennis went on. "Ken and Keith were skeptical, so they sent me pictures of that setup. Once I saw it, I didn't like it, so on went the steel wheels with Firestone blackwalls. I learned you can't force things on this car."
That's true. Ken and Keith understand how to create just enough patina to make one of their cars look half-a-century old.
"As soon as it was finished, I decided to drive it home (to California)," Dennis said. "We hadn't gone too far when we had an incident where the fan 'walked' right into the radiator. We fixed that overnight, leaving the dents, and I found an old radiator repair tag that we hung on it. Next, one of the restored instruments broke-the oil temperature gauge-so I decided to head for Walnut, Arkansas, where the instruments were restored. ("It's right next to Deliverance," he quipped), and we fixed that in an afternoon too."
The 241-cid, Dodge Little...
The 241-cid, Dodge Little Red Ram Hemi, with its three-carb Offenhauser manifold and Scintilla Vertex magneto ignition, is the perfect old-style powerplant. It puts out about 250 bhp and sounds great with straight pipes.
The slightly wedged, armored-car...
The slightly wedged, armored-car chop, very aggressive stance, low-mounted Guide lights, and severe rubber rake give this sedan its going-downhill-fast look. Signature Bones touches include the Schroeder race car steering with a prominent draglink, a Bell wheel, old chrome, finned brake drums, a Model T spring over a quick-change rear, a khaki blanket interior, and an art-deco '40 Ford Deluxe wheel.
The much-coveted smirking...
The much-coveted smirking skull radiator cap only accentuates what you can tell from 50 feet away-it's definitely a Rolling Bones hot rod.
This interior is a time warp....
This interior is a time warp. A speedboat contributed this neat old dash, flanked by still more vintage Stewart Warner instruments. They all work!
Old-timers will recognize...
Old-timers will recognize the red registration folder that's attached to the steering column with spring clips. A Schroeder steering box is a race-inspired addition. It's right at home on this outlaw Tudor.