When he began the project, Doane envisioned what his first roadster would have been like if he'd started it in the '90s rather than the '40s. Some of the original's styling cues would be there (notably the exhaust through the frame design and the engine-turned dash), but nearly every other part would profit from Doane's lifelong passion for fabrication-plus a stash of parts he'd saved from his T-bird project.
Known to his friends as "Mr. Bracket," Doane would design a piece not purely for function, though it would always work as it was supposed to, but aesthetics as well. It is well documented that he also distrusted most off-the-shelf parts and pieces, so Doane naturally built everything himself. A self-taught mechanic, he could perform every aspect needed to finish out a car, from engine and chassis building to paint and body.
But the Spencer2, as it would come to be known, was only partially finished at the time of Doane's death. So now the big question: Who could possibly pick up Michelangelo's tools and start chipping away at what was left? Darrell took the project home, where it was stored for 10 years until collector Kirk White purchased the car in 2005. Kirk in turn sold the car in the same condition he found it to Dennis Higgingbotham, who picked up the phone and contracted the SO-CAL Speed Shop in Pomona, California, to finish the car in the spirit of Doane. Since the company had already restored Doane's first roadster, it seemed logical SO-CAL was in the unique position to instinctively know how he would have wanted this one done too.
When SO-CAL received the car in boxes from the owner, Pete took all the parts to a back room, told everyone to leave him alone, and spent three days mocking up the car to see what he had to work with and what still needed to be done.
Though it was evident Doane had thought out every aspect of his car, only some of the components had been finished. Only one wheel knock-off had been made, and the one-off magnesium centers to the wheels had been cast but not assembled. The steering box wasn't set in place, nor was the aluminum radiator. The idea was there, but you had to have a good imagination to see what the artist had intended to do with his work.
The actual process of building a car hadn't begun, as Doane was still making the pieces when he passed away. But by doing a quick build with the parts, Pete was able to rough out the concept, then stand back and see the entire car as only Doane had dreamed it.
The body Doane had planned to use was fiberglass, but Pete felt Doane would have built the car using an original steel Ford body if he had been given the chance, so Pete located one for the project. From there, Pete put SO-CAL's Monty "Moose" Hutchison and Robin "Silky" Silk in charge of the build. The duo worked full-time under the watchful eye of shop foreman Ryan Reed for the next 15 months, finishing Doane's last masterpiece along with the rest of the SO-CAL team.
SO-CAL is well-adept at building hot rods using parts from the "usual" sources, but nearly every part on this ride was handmade by Doane, right down to the castings he'd created for the rearend housing and other parts. The frame is a '32 Ford, with the wheelbase lengthened to 111 inches, outfitted with Doane's handmade IFS (with inboard shocks mounted behind the grille) and IRS systems, both of which utilize antiroll bars. The four-way disc brakes use Doane's own calipers with Wilwood 12-inch rotors (a custom CNC'd master cylinder is also used) and Koni shocks are found on each corner.
The pedal assembly is a story unto itself. When SO-CAL received all the car parts, there were three different pedal assemblies-Doane hadn't figured out which design to go with. SO-CAL's Silky combined the best of the designs and devised a system that hangs from above, rather than coming up through the floor. Steering is handled via a Schroeder rack. The brake lines, 15-gallon gas tank, and all fasteners throughout the car are made from stainless steel. The knock-off wheels are 16x8 and 17x9 and are of Doane's design, cast by his friend, Gary Brown. The one-offs are wrapped in Goodyear RSA rubber (205/55-16 and 255/60-17).
Even with the longer 111-inch wheelbase, Doane intended to have the motor sit farther back in the chassis than what you might find on a "normal" hot rod, and its relocation provides a better center of gravity for the car-something Doane was all about when it came to high-speed cruising. And for safety, there is also an internal four-point rollbar (as all race cars need rollbars) that is well hidden under the roadster's skin. And, since it needed a longer hood, SO-CAL fabbed up a new one from aluminum. Dennis, the roadster's current owner, stands at 6 feet 3 inches, and Pete believes he would have never fit in a standard '32 cockpit, so it was lengthened 2 inches to allow a little more legroom.