As a hot rodder in the 21st century, it's often misunderstood why we do the certain things we do. Tall, skinny bias-ply tires stand out amongst the wide, fat radials. Multiple-carb'd Flathead motors clatter and leak amongst the fuel-injected, computer-controlled contemporary modular motors. Drum brakes pull and fade compared to modern performance disc brakes. Transverse-spring suspension designs are stiff and ill-performing compared to independent suspensions with adjustable coilover springs, and the like.

There are drawbacks to virtually every aspect of hot rodding that not only don't make sense to most people in today's society but don't make sense even to some car guys. The musclecar and street rod guys laugh when you mention running a Flathead or early Hemi motor, but the thing they don't get is it's all about style, aesthetic, and tradition.

Granted, it's hard to do anything that hasn't been done before when building a hot rod today; nobody's out there reinventing the wheel when it comes to building a '32 Ford. But, given the vast amount of aftermarket parts and accessories available today, one can build a car that would be next to impossible to have built not only way back when, but even 10 years ago.

Build options began to shrink as the supply of original steel dwindled, and guys started looking at alternatives. Building a '32 roadster back in the 1940s was one thing-there were still original cars around-but fast forward 60-plus years, and it has become painfully obvious that option just isn't there anymore.

Enter the aftermarket reproduction-body industry. Beginning in the early 1970s, fiberglass reproduction '32 Ford roadsters, among other years and styles, began to be manufactured. All of a sudden, it was once again possible to build a Deuce roadster, thus becoming popular for a second time. The 21st century kicked off, and, lo and behold, the '32 Ford is not only being reproduced in 'glass but in steel, as well, 75 years after its inception. And, not only in its original, factory guise but in the form of a legitimate convertible design, complete with roll-up windows and a hideaway drop-top. Old Henry himself would be hard-pressed to believe his humble '32 roadster would still be receiving the attention it is 75 years later. But, the popularity of the Deuce roadster continues to grow even today, with more on the road than when they first rolled off Ford's production line, and guys like Charles Franklin and Mark Trostle are firm believers in the fact that the '32 Ford roadster is one of the most iconic cars ever built.

Like a lot of hot rods built today, the comparisons between the Franklin and Trostle highboys can be drawn like a line in the sand; but, when it comes time to split hairs, the two cars actually have less in common than one would first think. Yes, they're both '32 Ford highboy roadsters built in a similar vein, but other than a few simple styling cues, that's about where the similarities end.

One of the biggest differences is the fact that, other than the Brookville body and Vintique grille and insert, every item on the Franklin roadster is gennie vintage Ford. From the wheels to the chassis to the original Deuce column, it was all built from parts that Charles has been searching for over the years. Mark's car, on the other hand, technically isn't even a roadster. It's actually a Dearborn Deuce convertible body, complete with roll-up side glass and a hideaway top. And, every major component of his highboy, from the wheels to the chassis to the Juliano's column, came from an aftermarket source. Here are two cars that are distinguishingly similar yet completely different.

From the ground up, both cars roll on traditional rubber-Dunlop racing bias-plies on Mark's car, and N.O.S. Firestone Ascots on the rear and Firestone skinnies up front on Charles' roadster. A set of Dayton wire wheels were ordered up for Mark's highboy, while Charles opted to use a pair of 18-inch '38 Ford accessory wheels in the back and V8-60 wheels up front. Suspension systems were kept traditional up front with a transverse leaf design on both cars-Pete & Jake's equipment for the front of the Trostle car with a dropped axle and split hairpins, while a drilled Deuce heavy axle was attached to stock, unsplit '32 Ford radius rods on the Franklin '32.

Mark went with SO-CAL Speed Shop disc brakes, hidden inside Buick-style finned drums, while Charles utilized '40 Ford backing plates coupled with '38 Ford drums. Out back, a Ford 9-inch rearend hangs on Aldan coilovers under the Dearborn Deuce, while Charles' Brookville car rides on a '34 Ford banjo fitted with a stock transverse spring and '40 Ford backing plates with '36 Ford drums.

The drivetrain package for the two highboys, while both of Ford origin, are also distinctly different. Beneath the original '32 Ford hood on Charles' roadster sits a '47 Ford 239ci Flathead backed by a '37 Ford transmission. The Flattie is equipped with a pair of original Edelbrock block-script heads and dual Stromberg 48 carbs on an Edelbrock 2x2 Super intake manifold. Mark's Deuce, on the other hand, is slightly more contemporary, with a 351ci Ford Sportsman V-8 engine backed by a Tremec TKO-600 five-speed manual trans. A single Holley 670-cfm four-barrel carb feeds the engine through a Ford Racing Performance Parts intake manifold, and Holman Moody valve covers dress up the small-block.

When it came time to add some color to their respective rides, both opted for the venerable hot rod black, with PPG providing the material in both instances. Green Dayton Wire Wheels offset the color on Mark's car, while the matching wheels on Charles' roadster add to the black-on-black effect. And, like the paint scheme, the interiors of both hot rods are similar but distinct. Mark had matching green leather stretched and stitched over a modified Wise Guys bench seat, while Charles modified a rear seat from a '34 Ford four-door sedan before pulling a hide of oxblood leather over it.

Both cars were upholstered in a traditional tuck 'n' roll manner, from the seat to the kick panels. Juliano's steering components were used in Mark's car, while an original '32 Ford column topped with a 17-inch Bell Auto Parts steering wheel was installed in Charles' hot rod. The dash panels on both cars are decidedly hot rod, with the Franklin roadster remaining low-key with a simple stock insert plugged with a trio of vintage Stewart Warner gauges, while the Trostle car has a set of Classic Instruments gauges set into a Knecht gauge panel. Vintage Air climate controls rest under the dash on Mark's convertible, while the stock cowl vent is the only sort of creature comfort found on Charles' roadster.

In a side-by-side comparison of these two highboy hot rods, it seems they share quite a bit of similarities; when the specs are perused and the cars broken down, it becomes apparent they are actually more different than alike. These are two cars built in the 21st century to look like those from the years directly following the big war, using both new and old components alike. If that doesn't put the current state of our hobby in a nutshell, I don't know what does.