On television and in magazines, street rod projects go together without a hitch. Not in the real world. Tom Hogan, owner and builder of this '32 coupe knows something about that. His cherry red Deuce looks great and runs great now, but it took a lot of hard work, and even a small disaster, to get there.
Tom has been a muscle car guy since high school. He still is, but a few years ago he developed an interest in more nostalgic iron. Not surprisingly, it was the iconic profile of a '32 three-window that grabbed him the most. It's not hard to find raw material for a '32 coupe project and some online investigating turned up lots of prospects, but Tom decided that instead of reviving some neglected specimen or taking over somebody else's no-longer-wanted project, he would take a different approach. "I really wanted something unique, so I decided to go ahead and build one fresh." The end result is a genuine, one-of-a-kind street rod built entirely from brand-new parts. It's "original" in the sense that it never existed before.
One of Tom's first decisions was his choice of a reproduction body. He'd heard good things about Kilbourne Rod Shop so he ordered a full-fendered version of their fiberglass three-window, built with a 3-inch chop, shaved door and trunk handles, and hidden hinges. A Rootlieb three-piece un-louvered steel hood closes up the engine compartment and completes the body.
Kilbourne also provided the frame and suspension parts. The American Stamping 'rails are fully boxed. The frontend includes a dropped axle and a Chassis Engineering four-link suspension, plus Aldan shocks, Panhard bar, and 11-inch disc brakes. A CE four-link is also used in the rear, along with coilovers, Panhard bar, and a Ford 9-inch. Dale's Rod & Body Shop in Freeburg, Missouri, did the prepwork on the 'glass and finished it in Firecracker, a DuPont Hot Hues color. The decklid is embellished with some traditional pinstriping and graphics by Brooke Passey. In chasing a timeless street rod look, Tom opted for big 'n' little blackwall radials, P255/70R15s and P195/70R14s, mounted on Torq-Thrust IIs from American Racing.
Tom likes the look of these big 9-inch headlights from Kilbourne.
With a lot of driving in mind, Tom chose a Chevy small-block crate engine. A 600-cfm Edelbrock carburetor and intake manifold from Summit are topped with a billet air cleaner, ball-milled to match the aluminum valve covers. Patriot headers draw exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers providing the right tone.
The interior is filled with a pair of Chrysler Volare buckets. Duane's Upholstery in Missouri covered the seats and door panels in sandstone Ultraleather with cream-colored inserts. Billet Specialties wheels are mounted on an ididit tilt column.
Tom learned a lot during the buildup, including the fact that constructing a car from brand-new parts doesn't necessarily make it easy. When "part A" and "part B" (and hundreds of others) come from different sources, you can't count on them going together like puzzle pieces. In this case, the puzzle was sometimes tough to solve, but the crew at Kilbourne provided a lot of helpful advice and parts when problems arose. Even so, Tom was continually frustrated by a lack of power, poor mileage, and mechanical gremlins.
In late 2009, an underhood fire burned the distributor, starter, and wiring, but-amazingly-didn't damage the fiberglass. Tom took advantage of that adversity, going through the drivetrain and making changes that vastly improved the coupe's performance. He replaced the cam and valvetrain components, bumped compression to 10:1, and added Pro Topline cylinder heads. The TH350 transmission was replaced with a TCI Automotive 700-R4 and the rearend was loaded with 3.73 gears. "Before it wouldn't spin the tires," Tom says. "Now the car runs!"
In June, Tom drove the Deuce from Soda Springs, Idaho, to the Colorado Nats in Loveland, 532 miles down and 532 miles back. On the drive home, the coupe was pelted by seven hailstorms, one dumping 3 inches in a minute. A close look reveals some literally weather-beaten spots in the Firecracker paint. Tom is getting ready to repaint. We say leave the road trip scars as proof that, although it may be a repro '32, it's a real street rod.