Side-exiting exhaust, multiple taillights, and big meats all say race car, but the F-32 is
As tough as it is to explain, those design elements were an even tougher assignment for the trio who scratch-built the body from a stack of aluminum sheet: Marc, Luc, and Marcel DeLey of Marcel's Custom Metal Shaping. Conveniently located across the street from Barry White's Speed Shop, the DeLeys have been responsible for building far more Grand National Roadster Show AMBR and Detroit Autorama Ridler winners than any other shop or individual. Using Chris' full-scale drawing to work from, they went about creating the body as they saw it.
Though Marcel's can seemingly fabricate nearly any shape of vehicle (they've done Model A tubs, B-400 bodies, '35 and '37 Ford roadsters, as well as every Muroc roadster in existence) for their customers, this one was a little different, due in part to those sexy curves Chris called out for in his drawings. Another facet of the design was how the doors would work. Not just suicide in operation, Chris required the rear edge of the door tuck into the quarter-panel when the doors were open, not swing outside the body like most other roadsters. Having never done that before, Marc first fabricated a working model of the doorjamb in steel to see if could work. Getting the engineering down in model form first, he was able to work out the kinks and apply his newfound knowledge to the F-32's doors.
Another tricky part of the design was the fabrication of the headrests. Not a simple bolt-on or add-on piece, the humps are part of the one-piece upper panel that also incorporates the space for the gas filler lid as well as the channel for the decklid. Full of bumps, curves, and returns, the piece is a metalman's nightmare, but something Marcel's was able to accomplish to perfection.
With the fabrication done, the chassis and aluminum body were taken around the corner to Speed Shop Custom Paint, where Tony prepped everything for bodywork before laying down multiple coats of PPG F-32 Red (after all, Ferraris are supposed to be red, aren't they?). When most folks get their car back from the painter, they begin to assemble the car, but, in this case, since it was decided during construction that the vehicle would be built to compete in the Grand National Roadster Show's America's Most Beautiful Roadster category, hundreds of hours were recorded detailing the chassis, its parts and pieces, as well as the body after it came back from the paint shop. Once that meticulous work was done, only then could the final build begin.
One of the many custom items on the car is the curved windshield assembly. Starting life as a unit for a Muroc roadster, the pieces were modified for the F-32's wider cowl. In addition to that, a rearview mirror was grafted to the top of the center post and the spear that tapers forward from the base of the center post (toward the engine compartment) was mirrored on the backside of the post to point toward the cockpit. Keeping in mind the windshield frame is a cast piece, the additional fabrication was a real chore. Other custom items, such as the custom grille from Dan Fink Metalworks, were added, as were Headwinds headlights and a custom four-lens taillight combo.
The interior was yet another opportunity for the race car theme to continue. The custom bench seat was designed to look more like a pair of buckets, and the ringlets in the seat bottom and backs are reminiscent of those found in the original GT40s of the '60s. Gabe's Auto Upholstery in Bloomington, California, did all of the interior installation, which included covering the trans tunnel with the same leather used on the seats and door panels. Up in the center of the dash is a small aluminum panel with flip switches on either side of a red button. The two switches on the left operate the power and fuel pump, and, once tripped, the red start button is pushed and the big-block comes to life.
Custom gauges from Classic Instruments are the first we've seen where the tachometer is located in the center of the 170-mph speedometer. Four other gauges (fuel, oil, volt, and temp) are balanced on either side of the speedo/tach. For steering, a flat leather-wrapped wheel was designed and whittled from aluminum and then relieved of some weight with added lightening holes. The same multi-hole design in the steering wheel spokes is carried on down the simple column to the mounts, and then farther down onto the pedal assembly.
Gabe also covered the trunk in the same coffee-colored leather, which accents the polished-aluminum, foam-filled fuel cell from Mooneyes. And, though the exhaust outlets at the base of each quarter-panel actually work, the gas filler cap located between the headrest humps doesn't go to the gas tank. The real filler is on the Mooneyes tank inside the trunk-the exterior lid hides the main power switch for the vehicle.
With the car basically finished, fabrication-wise, attention then turned to the details and making sure anything was addressed that a show car judge could see. Hundreds of hours go into this facet of building a show car, and the White team knows how to get it done. The car did make its debut at the 2007 Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California, to compete in the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award category, and, though a top contender and a crowd favorite, the F-32 did not win the top prize. Not deterred, Dennis continued showing the car around the country and received multiple awards, as well as the coveted 2007 Street Rod of the Year award from the Goodguys organization at their PPG Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.
Now done with the series of competitive car shows, Dennis is planning on showing off his ride in the fashion it was born to: on the road and at speed. He'd already rolled up 500 miles on the odometer when these photos were taken, but fully intends to cruise around his hometown in Southern California and enjoy his roadster. So, if you see a guy driving the F-32 with a big smile on his face, say hello-that happy owner would be Dennis!