Ken Smith, of Portland, Oregon, doesn't do anything without thinking it through. He spent 10 years building this '32 Ford, using most of Henry Ford's parts, and a big one, the powerplant, from Ransom Eli Oldsmobile, of whom Ken is a direct descendant.
On top of that, he didn't add any more holes in Henry's frame than were put there in 1932. That takes some concerned thought; the reason being that, should the need arise, this car could be restored to original that much easier. Ken already has a restored '34 Ford in his garage, but he had enough pieces to build a second Deuce roadster tucked away for a future project. It took some foresight to amass that pile of tin, and Ken used his organizational skills to build this classic example of an early Ford hot rod. You could attend the Father's Day gig, hosted by the L.A. Roadsters, and see what appears to be dozens of cars that look strikingly like Ken's. But, you will see the difference if you scratch the surface, or check out the frame shots taken before the meticulously finished body was dropped.
A 4-inch-dropped original...
A 4-inch-dropped original '32 Ford axle makes up part of the front suspension, along with split Deuce wishbones, a Deuce spring, and a brake combo of '46 Ford and '59 Buick drums.
The only mods to the frame were 1-inch C-notches in the rear, and bolt-in cast-aluminum reinforcement plates installed in the front section of the framerails. Ken also replaced the front crossmember with a '30 Model A piece to give a lower stance to the finished rod. Attached to that member is a '32 Ford reverse arc spring, an original '32 axle dropped 4 inches, and it's held in check with full-length split '32 wishbones. Bounce is held to a minimum with Monroe shocks, while stopping power comes from '46 Ford brakes with 12-inch '59 Buick drums and a '61 Chevrolet pickup master cylinder. When dropping an axle, other things also have to be changed, and Ken was very careful about this when he installed the '56 Ford pickup steering box, using the lower half of the pickup steering shaft and the upper half of a '38 Lincoln. He also installed the '32 steering arm on the left spindle after dropping it. Going down the driveshaft, we find a complete '34 Ford rear axle with 3.78 gears and a heavy-duty BorgWarner four-gear R-11 overdrive installed in the driveline with safety hubs. The rear spring is a '34 Ford de-arched unit attached alongside a pair of Monroe shocks.
What started this whole project in the first place was the aforementioned engine of Ransom E. Olds (1864-1950). Olds was the original builder of the Oldsmobile car, and he received his first patent for a gasoline-powered car in 1886, and put it up for sale for $1,000. He also established the first auto manufacturing plant in Detroit, outselling all other makes, and delivering more than 1,000 cars during the early 1900s.
A '57 Olds V-8, decked out...
A '57 Olds V-8, decked out with an Offy Tri-power intake bolted to a trio of Holley 2100 carbs, provides plenty of "breath." A '57 Corvette tach drive generator is another vintage part, as are the Mooneyes valve covers.
With this in mind, Ken thought it would be great to honor his heritage with this project. He found a '57 Olds engine, and a '37 Cadillac LaSalle transmission, which had just been removed from a '32 Ford five-window coupe. The old powerplant had seen the engine bays of numerous hot rods since it was nearly new. It was at this point Ken decided to build the roadster from parts he had collected over the years, and from stuff other people no longer wanted. Imagine, there are people out there who didn't want '32 Ford parts. Ken then heard, through a friend, of a tired '32 Ford roadster just waiting to be rescued, and he was off and running on his 10-year quest for the perfect hot rod.
With the door handles and side-curtain snaps removed, and the body massaged by Mike McKennett, it was Mike Dietz's turn to spray the PPG Black on the Ford body. By this time, the car was looking good and ready for the final assembly, so Ken took all the pieces home and painstakingly made the transition from a pile of parts to a running car.
The Deuce steering column...
The Deuce steering column and the '36 wheel are more period-perfect parts.
He added an original '32 Auburn dash panel with early convex-lens Stewart Warner gauges, and a mid-'30s radio, along with a vintage hot-water heater. He then had Jeff Martin install a stock LeBaron Bonney interior, and topped it off with a '36 Ford steering wheel. The crowning end to the build is the top; with the original irons modified by the owner, it was one of the last jobs done by Kenny Jones, the master of convertible lids in the Northwest. His signature tops are legendary for their fit and overall perfect appearance.
There it is-a very good example of how to construct a period hot rod, with mostly original parts, and make it driveable and eye-catching. Ken Smith has realized a 10-year dream of driving his own Deuce roadster, and we think Ransom Olds would be proud.
A Stewart Warner radio from...
A Stewart Warner radio from the mid-'30s, probably sold through a Firestone tire store, rests comfortably under the dash.
A '32 Auburn dash panel is...
A '32 Auburn dash panel is fitted to the stock dash, and original early Stewart Warner gauges are employed.
The '30s radio speaker, hidden...
The '30s radio speaker, hidden inside the black box, sits alongside a vintage heater.
Attention to detail is the...
Attention to detail is the name of the game, and all these mods were done without adding any new holes to the stock '32 frame.
A '37 Cadillac LaSalle transmission...
A '37 Cadillac LaSalle transmission works its way back to a BorgWarner four-gear R-11 overdrive and a '34 Ford rearend.
A Cadillac trans with a '57...
A Cadillac trans with a '57 Olds clutch and pressure place are part of the shift program, along with a stock '37 Caddy lever. Note the closed driveline and use of a '61 Chevy pickup master cylinder and a Midland power brake booster.
|Facts & Figures |
|Ken Smith |
|West Linn, Oregon |
|1932 Ford roadster |
|Frame / Manufacturer ||FoMoCo |
|Modifications ||’30 Ford front crossmember & 1” C-notch rear |
|Rearend / Ratio ||’34 Ford 3.78 |
|Rear suspension ||’34 Ford de-arched spring |
|Rear brakes ||’46 Ford ’59 Buick drums |
|Front suspension ||stock ’32 Ford de-arched spring |
|Front brakes ||’46 Ford ’59 Buick drums |
|Master cylinder ||’61 Chev pickup |
|Power brakes ||Midland booster |
|Steering box ||’56 Ford pickup |
|Wheel covers ||stock Ford |
|Front wheel make, size ||early Ford, 15x5 |
|Rear wheel make, size ||early Ford, 15x6 |
|Front tire make, size ||BFGoodrich, 590x15 |
|Rear tire make, size ||BFGoodrich, 820x15 |
|Make ||Oldsmobile |
|Displacement ||371ci |
|Machining / Assembly ||Damascus Auto Service (Damascus, OR) |
|Pistons ||Ohio |
|Camshaft ||Engle Racing Cams (Santa Monica, CA) |
|Water pump ||shortened ’57 Oldsmobile |
|Cooling fan ||15” six-blade |
|Radiator ||stock ’32 Ford |
|Generator ||’57 Corvette tach drive generator |
|Valves / Springs ||Ferrea Racing Components (Fort Lauderdale, FL) / Crower Cams & Equipment (San Diego, CA) |
|Rockers ||McGerk |
|Valve covers ||Moon (Santa Fe Springs, CA) |
|Manifold / Induction ||Offenhauser Tri-power |
|Carburetors ||Holley 2100 (3) |
|Ignition / Wires ||Mallory 7mm |
|Exhaust / Mufflers ||stainless / DynoMax (Monroe, MI) |
|Other engine facts ||Stelling & Hellings air cleaners |
|Make ||Cadillac |
|Clutch ||disc, stock ’57 Olds |
|Pressure plate ||stock ’57 Olds |
|Shifter ||stock ’37 Cadillac |
|Overdrive ||BorgWarner four-gear R-11 |
|Driveshaft ||closed |
|Body style / Material ||roadster / steel |
|Body manufacturer ||FoMoCo |
|Body mods ||door handles removed |
|Hood ||stock, louvered & blistered |
|Grille ||stock ’32 |
|Bodywork ||Mike McKinnett (Portland, OR) |
|Paint type / Color ||PPG / Black |
|Painter ||Mike Dietz (Canby, OR) |
|Headlights / Taillights ||Arrow 775 H / ’39 Ford |
|Dashboard ||stock '32 |
|Radio ||Stewart Warner/Firestone early '30s tube radio |
|Wiring ||stock, early Ford |
|Steering wheel ||'36 Ford |
|Seats ||stock LeBaron Bonney |
|Upholsterer ||Jeff Martin (Portland, OR) |
|Material / Color ||stock leather / tan |