Oftentimes our ultimate hot rod is steeped in something that has influenced us from our past. For Ron Lee, of South Pasadena, California, it was his desire to have a traditional-styled roadster with elements of a vintage European sports cars; cars that built their reputations on decades of legacy at the racetrack.
Arguably, the world’s first racetrack is Brooklands racetrack in Surrey, England. Originally intended for use as a testing facility, it celebrated its opening on June 17, 1907, and continued operation until 1939 when the advent of World War II brought racing to an end.
To listen to Ron he will tell you that the concept for the American hot rod tribute to English racing began at Hollywood Hot Rods during the time frame when Troy Ladd’s Respect Tradition roadster was under way. It seemed that similar proportions would make a great vintage sports and/or race car design. Ron has vintage race and sports cars of both European and American heritage in his collection and he could see his idea of a traditional American hot rod drawn from the roots of English race cars. From this point the design elements for a unique hot rod led to the Brooklands Special. The righthand drive is the direct result of the Brooklands racetrack influence.
Let’s get it out there—the steering wheel is in the correct position for any hot rod payin
The fenderless ’32 roadster rests on Hollywood Hot Rods (HHR) extremely low, widened, notched framerails featuring a 6-inch kickup in the rear and is shaped to fit flush with the shape of the body. The flat front crossmember holds a Magnum 5-inch dropped-and-drilled I-beam utilizing a transverse leaf spring.
Remember this is a tribute to European sports and racing cars and as such righthand steering is a must. The modern American hot rod steering is a Vega box adapted for righthand steering. The Hartford scissor-style front friction shocks are used along with the braking combo of Wilson Welding finned backing plates covering ’39 Lincoln drums.
The rearend is based on an early Ford banjo-style with an aluminum “no change” centersection that is equipped with 4.11 gears and came from the garage of Don Orosco. Holding the differential in place are the use of rear ladder bars, ’40 Ford transverse springs, and Houdaille lever action shocks.
The handmade wooden dash by owner Ron Lee with vintage insert was reworked by Redline Gaug
The Wheelsmith wires measure 16 and 18, wrapped with Dunlap Racing rubber, measuring 5.50 in front and 7.00, and topped with Orosco-supplied Beda Orr caps.
In a hot rod filled with unique touches, the Howard Alan–built Flathead Ford V-8 has several notable and interesting components. When was the last time you featured your hot rod eyes on a pair of aluminum Elco Twin plug (eight per side) cylinder heads and the Nash 16-point distributor with vintage cloth-covered primary wires. Resting between the heads is an aluminum Offenhauser intake that’s topped with three Stromberg 97 carburetors and HHR custom-made air cleaners. The cast finned oil pan is another Orosco item. The exhaust system was fabricated in stainless by HHR with a Stainless Specialties muffler (two inlets and two outlets). Moving the power to the rearend is a Chevy S-10 five-speed using an early Ford shifter and an Inland Empire Driveline ’shaft.
Rear roll pan with side filler panels, aluminum rear bumper, and a handmade rear rollpan b
The Lucas vintage key-lock starter is a nice touch continuing the British theme.
Modified long-tube headers continue onto the mandrel-bent 2-inch stainless exhaust. The tw
Resting between the front framehorns the handmade front aluminum valance with mesh trim fe
The custom 20-gallon gas tank is wrapped in leather and appears to be custom luggage.
The leather upholstery by was sewn by Mark Lopez of Elegance Auto Interiors.
Braking is a combination of Wilson Welding finned backing plates wrapped around ’39 Lincol
The sheetmetal has undergone numerous changes with a successful outcome. The basics are found in the Brookville Roadster body that HHR sectioned 2 inches and relocated the rear wheelwells upward by 5 inches. The trunk area was shortened and relocated in a completely reshaped rear section that features inlaid wood within an aluminum decklid. The rear rolled pan and side filler panels are all HHR examples of custom metalshaping along with the one-off aluminum triple-blade bumper. More custom metalwork includes the 3-inch lengthened grille shell that’s reworked to match the body shape with a stainless steel mesh insert and riveted aluminum surround embedded with a red European Ford emblem. More of the European sports car touch is the HHR-fabricated aluminum valance with mesh and riveted aluminum surrounds and aluminum crank shroud. The aluminum hood was hammered by HHR and features piano-style hinges and stainless mesh vents. The windshield frame began life as a SO-CAL Speed Shop that was then modified by HHR via chopping and reshaping. Lighting comes by way of Bugatti via headlights and taillights. Much of the sheetmetal work performed at HHR was under the watchful eye and hands of Troy “T2” Morris. The PPG Cohiba color was applied by John Harb of The Shop (Highland Park, California) accented with Herb Martinez pinstriping.
The pedals, floor inserts, and foot rest are more HHR items.
Ron crafted his own wooden dash that would later house a vintage insert that in turn gave residence to Redline Gauge Works (Santa Clarita, California) revamped vintage gauges. Also seen is the handiwork in leather of Mark Lopez of Elegance Auto Interiors (Upland, California). He also made the seating and door panels and laid down the carpeting. However, the pedals, floor inserts, foot rest, rearview mirror (subbing as a windshield brace) were aptly fabricated by HHR along with the steering column topped by a Brooklands steering wheel.
As with any project it is always more than a one-man job and further recognition needs to be given to Gail Frey and Dave Gross.
The Hartford scissor-style friction shocks can be found in front along with hairpins and t
The Howard Alan–built Flathead features Elco Twin plug aluminum heads resting on either si
Spring outfitted leather hood straps have long been in favor with U.S. hot rodders but are