During the taping of a season...
During the taping of a season of the "Wrecks To Riches" TV show, the crewat Barry's Speed Shop had the added pressure of completing the work on Dennis DeCamp's roadster, readying for its debut at the 2007 Grand National Roadster Show to compete for the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award.
Art, by its nature, is supposed to be inspirational. As an expression of an artist's thoughts, a work of art can move, repel, explain, enrage, as well as inspire-often all at the same time. All you have to do is have more than one opinion in the room and the discussion can go on for hours.
So when you interpret a work, you reveal how it personally hits you, and then how it may affect others. Ferraris have been called works of automotive art since their inception in the late '40s and, today, some of the company's vintage vehicles can command prices higher than that of a Picasso or other artists who worked oil on canvas.
If "red," "roadster," and "powerful motor" sound like terms that can only describe a Ferrari, you'd be half right. They can also be used in conjunction with the F-32, a fenderless street rod owned by Dennis DeCamp of West Covina, California.
Inspiration can be found anywhere, but it was the race-going Ferraris of the '50s and the Indy/ Sprint style of racers of the same era that most influenced the look of Dennis' ride.
Dennis has always liked highboy roadsters and, in fact, he says it's a passion. Even as a young boy, he's been fascinated with car design, and he was able to identify most cars going down the road when he was a pre-teen in the '50s. After contacting Barry's Speed Shop to have Barry White and the crew build him a "nice, nice daily driver," the ideas began to flow on how to incorporate all the features Dennis wanted into one car. One of the ideas he had was to have a pair of headrest humps, similar to those found on Sprint Cars.
Chris Brown, Barry's in-house designer, quickly picked up the ball and ran with a design concept that pulled dozens of similar themes together, with the main influence being the parts and pieces you'd expect to find on a vintage Gran Prix car. With the car turning out the way it was on paper, Dennis then decided it should be built to compete for the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. That's quite a few steps up from having just a nice driver, but he felt he wanted to do it.
The project began with a race-inspired tubular steel chassis with independent suspension both front and rear. Scratch-built at Barry's shop in Corona, California, the 116-inch wheelbase chassis features a polished Winters quick-change that uses Kugel Komponents IRS pieces coupled to a horizontal coilover setup. Pushrods connected to the outboard carrier operate rocker arms that actuate QA1 shocks located above the rearend.
The front suspension started as a Kugel unit too, but with the coilovers moved inboard and actuated by a second set of drilled-out rocker arms. More lightening holes are found in the rocker arm mounts as well as in the engine mounts, various brackets, and nearly every other structural item on the chassis. In a nutshell, Chris' design concept was if something were on the outside of the car, it was smooth so it wouldn't cause any extra drag, while everything on the inside was drilled with lightening holes to save weight (just like you'd find on a race car).
A windshield normally made...
A windshield normally made to fit narrow Muroc '32 bodies was modified to fit the custom DeCamp roadster.
A set of one-off wheels was made up for the F-32 in 17- and 18-inch diameters and wrapped in Toyo rubber. In another design element also found throughout the car, the machined finish on the face of each wheel was hand-sanded smooth and then painted by Tony Correa of Speed Shop Custom Paint in Corona (just around the corner from Barry's facility). But Tony's method involved applying both primer and paint at a longer distance from the wheels than normal, so when the product finally hit the wheel, it was already partially dry, which created a textured finish that gave the appearance of a cast part, not machined. The same "faux cast" look was used on many chassis pieces by having the inside section of a part, for example the suspension's rocker arms, sandblasted after being milled to also appear as a cast part.
In another race-inspired moment, since the body was going to be made from aluminum, Barry's team figured the engine block and heads should be of the same material. So an all-aluminum LS1 was located and work began on detailing the engine. However, with the upcoming anniversary of the Flathead motor at the 2007 Grand National Roadster Show, Dennis didn't feel right competing for the AMBR with a Chevy powerplant in his ride. So he made the decision to remove the LS1 in favor of an all-aluminum 427 big-block from Jon Barrett Hot Rod Engines in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The body was built out of...
The body was built out of aluminum at Marcel's Custom Metal Shaping, which is conveniently located across the street from Barry's shop.
The 427 was given a high luster, but the polished engine didn't look right for what you'd see in a vintage racer, so Barry's crew developed a special tool they used to peen both the block and heads. Tony then followed with his special "textured" method of applying paint, which gave the block and heads their vintage look.
The 427 was then topped with a TWM injection system and Barry's fabrication team, headed up by Adam Ramsey, then removed the contemporary fuel rails and replaced them with hoses. Even the spark plug wire holders, which were first laser-cut from stainless, were welded together and made to appear older than they really are.
A Miller Speed cog drive, similar in appearance to a beltdrive for a blower, was used as the drive that works the water pump. In an example of extreme attention to detail, the crew also machine-dimpled the inside of the head of every hex bolt on the vehicle for a uniform look. To round out the drivetrain, a Tremec five-speed transmission allows Dennis to upshift through the gears while simultaneously planting him in his seat.
The basic shape of the car is '32 Ford, though heavily reworked to show Ferrari instincts. But, as some of Chris' earliest illustrations show, there are a lot more curves in this one-off aluminum body than Ford ever thought of putting in its Deuce. One subtle "S" curve appears when you look down the rear quarter from the rear three-quarter view. The sexy shape curves in as it rolls to the bottom of the body, but it's done subtly, so as not to scream it. Another arc runs front-to-rear across the top of the body that gives the vehicle a more powerful stance.
One of the hardest pieces...
One of the hardest pieces to fabricate was the area that made up the headrest pods-lots of specialized forming went on here to make it look right.
Though milled on a CNC (thus...
Though milled on a CNC (thus producing a machined finish) the F-32's 17- and 18-inch centers (which are pin-drive and true knockoffs) were then sanded and texture-painted to make them look more like a cast item.
The front suspension (a modified...
The front suspension (a modified Kugel Komponents unit) uses inboard-mounted QA1 coilover shocks and custom-made rockers.
If you're gong to have an...
If you're gong to have an all-aluminum body, why not have an all-aluminum motor too? Dennis chose a 427 Ford topped with a TWM injection unit.
Barry's Speed Shop created...
Barry's Speed Shop created the tube chassis, as well as the laid-down coilover shock design.
Wanting a bucket feel from...
Wanting a bucket feel from a bench seat, Gabe's Auto Upholstery followed Chris Brown's sketches to create a GT40/Ferrari-looking seating arrangement.