During the taping of a season of the "Wrecks To Riches" TV show, the crewat Barry's Speed
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 to fit narrow Muroc '32 bodies was modified to fit the custom D
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 aluminum at Marcel's Custom Metal Shaping, which is conveniently
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 to fabricate was the area that made up the headrest pods-lots of
Though milled on a CNC (thus producing a machined finish) the F-32's 17- and 18-inch cente
The front suspension (a modified Kugel Komponents unit) uses inboard-mounted QA1 coilover
If you're gong to have an all-aluminum body, why not have an all-aluminum motor too? Denni
Barry's Speed Shop created the tube chassis, as well as the laid-down coilover shock desig
Wanting a bucket feel from a bench seat, Gabe's Auto Upholstery followed Chris Brown's ske
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!