You have to wonder how many hot rodders who are still around today started off working at a corner gas station. Even better than taking auto shop in school, the corner gas station experience would expose a young man to all sorts of vehicles and, therefore, all sorts of problems that come with them that needed to be figured out.
Just because it’s steel doesn’t mean it couldn’t be pinstriped. Bill Peratt (Eric’s father
Larry Christensen was just 14 years old when he started pumping gas in his father’s station and, just a year later, had rebuilt his first V-8 (a small-block Chevy with two-fours, which eventually found its way into a ’55 Chevy post Larry would own). Larry reckons he became a “Chevy guy” back then, and his allegiance to the brand would serve him well later in life.
Through the years Larry taught Vocational Auto Mechanics and then managed a transportation fleet for the local school district. But since the late ’70s, it was an interest in restoring and selling Camaros that gave him a great foundation for the process of car building. He restored Yenkos, ZL1s, Indy pace cars, and Z/28s but sold the business about four years ago. Now he spends some of his time consulting other people on the restoration of Camaros and he’s a nationally recognized judge at high-end car shows.
But his love of GM vehicles didn’t preclude him from owning a Blue Oval product. He bought a 1932 Ford five-window coupe from his brother and, after finishing the project, Larry, who lives in Arvada, Colorado, decided he wanted a Deuce roadster, too.
Though the rivets are the main focal point of the cockpit, you might miss the padded seat
Larry had seen the high-quality work that was coming out of Pinkee’s Rod Shop—Eric Peratt’s business in Windsor, Colorado. Peratt normally isn’t satisfied with just building belly button hot rods, but rather he reinterprets and occasionally redesigns the iconic body shapes to an even more refined shape. It’s easy to jump in and change every aspect of a car’s personality, but the trick is to do it with a subtle approach and to not go overboard, and Peratt has figured out how to do just that. Over the years, his talents have netted him a Ridler Award and many other awards and accolades, too.
The project started with a chassis that Pinkee’s builds for customers that give the car a sectioned look—achieved by having framerails only 4.5 inches tall as opposed to the factory 6-inch height. Larry’s frame was set up with a custom X-member and on a wheelbase of 108 inches. Front suspension pieces include a single leaf spring, a custom crossmember, a drilled Chassis Engineering I-beam, and original ’32 bones split and modified by Pinkee’s. The rear uses quarter-elliptic springs and a Winters quick-change. Front brakes are a SO-CAL disc system (hidden inside Buick drums) and the rears are 11-inch Ford units that are also covered with finned ’57 Buick drums.
Wallic estimates he has more than 15,000 rivets in Larry’s roadster (half of them hand-buc
Christensen bought his Brookville Roadsters steel body through SO-CAL’s Pueblo location, and Pinkee’s added a Schroeder cowl steering unit that is mounted transversely below the dash. Also mounted behind the dash is a Wilwood master cylinder unit that operates off a hanging swing pedal assembly custom-made by Pinkee’s.
The car has seen a few different sets of wheels and tires as Larry likes to change its look, but right now a set of 18x4 and 20x6 Curtis Speed true knock-off wheels wrapped in Excelsior 5.50-18 and 6.50-7.00-20 rubber are on the car.
And though most everything about this car is new, the motor is not. It’s a 392 Hemi, which Larry was able to find unassembled in nearby Grand Junction. He took the block to F&M Machine Performance in Arvada to be bored 0.040, and he had the crank turned 0.010. Assembling the engine himself, Larry used an Isky cam, Hot Heads pistons dialed in at 10:1 compression, and a set of Hot Heads aluminum heads. The Parker aluminum valve covers are rare, and the set Larry was able to buy off of eBay had not yet been drilled for mounting screws! Another trick piece is the big-block Chevy water pump, mated via an adapter for the Hemi block.