All of us from time to time want to give our ride a redo. It's our nature as hot rodders to tinker, modify, or just plain ol' screw with it! Not that there's anything wrong, we just want to try fresh paint, or a wheel/tire combo, or suspension, or power. Then of course there are times when mechanical gremlins step into the picture and cause us serious amounts of grief, which brings us to our story.
The steering wheel is a menu process of selection; there's the traditional circular, large
Zack Norman, of Venice, California, was driving back from Viva Las Vegas many years ago when his highboy's driveshaft let loose-and we mean loose! Troy Ladd of Hollywood Hot Rods (HHR) in Burbank, California, just happened to be driving his Chevy behind Zack and watched the driveshaft exit stage right. Zack admits the Texas Deuce was a bit of a beater and that it would be as good a time as any to freshen it up. And so began his eight-year project.
For many of us our hot rod gene is passed down from our fathers, and Zack was no different, but here's an addendum. His father was into more than cars-he was also a pilot and flew biplanes out of Santa Paula, California. Growing up, his dad would take him flying, so the love of planes and hot rods took hold. The two of them thoroughly enjoyed the likes of the World War II aircraft and even Zack's grandmother was a "Rosie the Riveter" and built P-38s during World War II at the Lockheed plant in Burbank. With this family history planted it was no surprise that when harvest came there would be a passion for the roar of an engine; whether it is in a car or a plane.
Yep, the real deal-if it could only tell its story.
While Zack and Ladd kicked around ways to achieve the look, it was always Zack's idea to build a hot rod that represented, "... what a Lockheed engineer might build for himself if he was a hot rodder on the weekends." Kind of reminds us of the Johnny Cash song "One Piece at a Time" in which the Kentucky boy makes his way to the big city of Detroit "workin' on a 'sembly line." Each day he watched those beauties and figured he could get himself his own; one piece at a time. Well, we aren't saying that Zack employed the "five-finger discount" to gather all of the parts but nonetheless he did round up an incredible array of World War II airplane components and set Ladd and HHR to work. Zack is proud of the fact that he was able to "touch" all aspects of the build and bring in the aircraft influence without going too far. He says that all of the parts were readily available and cheap from military surplus. As with any hot rod, when we asked Zack is there was anything that he would change, he said, "After driving it for the first long trip I've started to design mufflers." Good idea, but in the meantime let's take a closer look.
The vintage Caddy now sports 363 inches up from the original 331. A pair of Carters restin
The Deuce highboy is a combination of genie steel and Brookville Roadster sheetmetal; the wheelwells were moved up 4-1/2 inches, while the cowl sides were reshaped and the cowl top smoothed. The windshield is a custom aluminum frame with distinct aircraft ties; even the rearview mirror is FAA approved. The Deuce grille shell does feature holes drilled into the lower pan and a mesh steel insert. However, what may be the most unusual feature of the '32 grille shell is the pitot tube, which is an open tube facing forward along the axis of the roadster (or aircraft) to gather data for vertical speed; and yes all the gauges do work. It should be noted the radiator supports are aircraft strut rods. An interesting sheetmetal feature is the roll pan, which, when pressed into service, opens (à la bomb bay door or landing gear-you pick) and becomes a storage area. Look closely above the roll pan and you'll notice very different looking but appropriate taillights-they're aircraft wing markers. The bodywork was handled by HHR, while Tom Prewitt and Matt Means, of the Department of Customs in Anaheim, California, used House of Kolor Kosmic Krome (PN MC01.C01, aluminum effect) and black to yield the two-tone, mild-scallop scheme. Following the paint hue note that the brightwork is "bright" but not chrome and is instead nickel plating by Faith Plating in West Hollywood.
The cockpit is the best and appropriate way to describe the interior on this highboy Deuce
There are a lot of aircraft gauges and, yes, they all work! They are all housed in a custo
The real trick is to tell which is which.
The "carpeting" in reality is military surplus canvas that is snapped down in similar fash
It may look like a pair of aircraft throttles, but in reality it's the shifter for the T-5
The seating is the always-popular aluminum bomber-style covered in surplus military canvas