There's a '32 roadster roaming the streets of Southern California that at first glance looks pretty traditional, but a closer look brings a parallel universe into focus. Under the hood of Steve "Limey" Dennish's Deuce beats the heart of a hopped-up Hemi engine that even the most seasoned hot rodder might mistake for Chrysler firepower. The 4.5L Daimler Hemi mill is from England, which is where Steve grew up "reading car magazines and dreaming of one day building the Holy Grail of hot rods: a 1932 Ford roadster." It only makes sense that if one is in search of the Holy Grail, it might not be a bad idea to move to Mecca.
In 1995, Steve opened the doors of LimeWorks Speed Shop in Whittier, California, and along with a talented crew of artisans didn't waste any time building a good reputation for turning out some pretty nice rides.
It was some time in 1999 that Steve got a phone call from Curt Hamilton of Cal Automotive renown telling him about a collection of '60s-to-the-present roadster projects Bob Bottomley owned. At first Steve thought Hamilton was talking about Bottomley wanting him to do some work on one of the cars, but soon realized Hamilton was cluing him in that the whole stash was up for sale. The sum was $25,000, and there had already been two bottom feeders before Steve who had tried to chisel Bottomley down on the price. Steve got one look at what was there and knew he'd found the deal of a lifetime, and didn't quibble one bit. The $5,000 he and the wife had set aside to help buy a new car with was thrown into the pot, and they scurried up the rest. Among the '32 roadster was a '32 Fordor body, and a closed cab '30 Model A pickup sitting on a new chassis.
The chassis that came with the roadster was destined to house a fully polished Jag IRS, and accept a 327-inch Chevy mated to a TH400 that was also part of the deal. Steve finished that chassis off and sold it, and then used a pair of Deuce 'rails from American Stamping to form the basis of his own design for his chassis.
Taylor Engine (Whittier, CA)...
Taylor Engine (Whittier, CA) machined the 273-inch Daimler Hemi, and Steve Dennish assembled it. Three Stromberg 97s sit on a one-off LimeWorks intake manifold. The Chevy S10 five-speed transmission was rebuilt by Anaheim Gear and mated with a custom LimeWorks adapter. The starter motor is from Hi Torque (Whittier).
For front suspension there's a dropped, filled, and chromed '32 axle with split and chromed '32 wishbones. The Ford reversed eye spring is also chromed, with dampening chores assisted by Pete & Jakes rod shocks finished in, you guessed it, more chrome, all of which sans shocks was done by LG Metal Finishing in Santa Fe Springs, California. Ford first-year, 12-inch juice brakes on '39 spindles stop a pair of '39 Ford 16x4-1/2, 2-inch backspaced steel wheels adorned with '39 Ford hubcaps, and shod with Firestone tires. The chain of command for steering starts with a '36 banjo wheel on a '39 column with a '36 top. A '37 Ford 1-ton truck push-pull steering box turns it all.
In back a Model A spring with Girling lever-action shocks suspends a Halibrand quick-change differential currently running 3.73:1 gears with Ford 9-inch axles, and Ford 11-inch drum brakes. The rear tires are ordinary light-duty truck meats mounted on a pair of 6-inch-wide, 4-inch backspaced '39 Ford 16-inch wheels and hubcaps.
As it arrived to Steve, the '32 body shell didn't look too bad in red oxide primer, but that was because it had a ton of plastic body filler underneath hiding a world of undulating sins. LimeWorks' Kevin O'Flaherty, along with Kerry hammered, picked, and filed until the body, hood, and grille shell were ready to send out for paint - but not until after Steve drove the car around in bare metal for a while because it was just so pretty.
For paint, Bob Cole at Cole Automotive in Long Beach, California, spent another 200 hours on the '32 getting it ready to go in PPG Jaguar Pacific Blue. Cole told us Steve was insistent the distinct lines of the body remained crisp, and didn't take on the look of a fiberglass replica before Cole sprayed on the basecoat/clearcoat finish.