One day John Hohenadel opened up a local Minneapolis newspaper and saw an ad for a ’32 coupe in the “Cars for Sale” section and naturally thought it was Ford. He went to check it out, but when he got to the seller’s house, John discovered it was actually a 1932 Plymouth!

Surprised, John still decided to purchase the car because he had always thought the Plymouths had better lines than the Fords did for that year. He brought the car home, and showed it off to his family, including his 8-year-old daughter, Jane. The coupe was a hot rod survivor, as it already had a 5-inch channel performed on the body and mounts for an Olds Rocket engine. Jane and her sisters were impressed with the car and, though far too young to drive, dreamt of the day when they could take it out for a spin.

That was in 1973.

For many years after John had wanted to start on the project, and he collected parts and did research on what he would need. But by 1990 he decided to put the car in storage and pull it out when the time was right. By then Jane was 35 and had started dating Scott Billish—an equally young car enthusiast who, by age 15, had already started working on cars and owned a ’68 Dodge Charger. He’d bought the car from his best friend’s father who impressed young Scott with the smoky tire burnouts he used to do in his 390-equipped ’68 Mustang.

So by 1990 Scott and Jane had been dating only a few months and that’s when John asked Scott to help him move his Plymouth into storage. Scott obliged and thought the coupe would make a great hot rod someday. By 1993 Scott and Jane were married, and the two would share the hobby of hot rodding with building and showing different cars.

The Billishes had just finished work on a ’71 big-block El Camino and Jane asked her dad if he would sell the Plymouth to them so they could get it on the road, and he replied he’d sell it, but wasn’t 100 percent sure where it was. The storage company where he had kept the car had not only changed ownership but had moved locations, too, so they weren’t sure what they were going to find once they tracked down where it was. To their relief, it was exactly as they had left it 16 years prior, and the facility had even pumped up the tires so it could roll!

Several months passed while Jane and Scott figured out what how they’d like to build the coupe. They also had another couple of projects they were finishing up: the El Camino and a highly customized ’33 Ford pickup stuffed with a blown Hemi and painted tangerine orange. The “Tangerine Scream” was a hit on the car show circuit, and the couple eventually sold it at the Barrett-Jackson car auction in Scottsdale in 2011. Once the focus shifted onto the Plymouth, Jane had a few ideas of how it should go together. It would be easy to make it into a rat rod type of vehicle, but both Jane and Scott had too much respect for the car’s history to treat it that way. So they decided to give it a new life with a deep black paintjob, lots of chrome, and an interior that matched Jane’s black boots that had a lining in a unique shade of blue leather. Plus it would have to have a 392 Hemi!

Scott had help from Hot Rod Chassis and Cycle (HRCC) in Addison, Illinois, when building the Tangerine Scream pickup, so he thought they would help on this project, too. The car was in decent shape, but they soon found out how rare Plymouth PB coupes were, which meant they would have to look at a lot of old photographs and fabricate some of the parts they could not otherwise find.

The chassis work began with the original framerails, but HRCC boxed them and modified it to accept both the Heidts polished 9-inch IRS rear (3.25:1) equipped with Strange Engineering Posi-Unit and the IFS system from JW Rod Garage (which also used JW’s rack-and-pinion unit).

Wilwood discs on each corner provide improved stopping power, and the master cylinder and brake booster came from CPP. Painted steel wheels are wrapped in Coker wide white tires, and HRCC custom fabbed the 28-gallon aluminum fuel cell.

The engine is a ’57 Imperial 392 Hemi and was assembled by Automotive Engine Specialists in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. AES used forged H-beams in the assembly along with Ross forged pistons (9.5:1), Hot Hemi aluminum heads, a Hilborn injection system modified with FAST electronics, a Joe Hunt HEI distributor, and HRCC headers. Rad Rides by Troy fabricated a custom V-belt pulley system for the motor as well as a one-off fuel injection cover. The motor bolts to a 200-4R automatic trans (fitted with a custom aluminum dust cover made by Mitch Tannahill) that is coupled to an IDES aluminum driveshaft.

HRCC had to modify or fabricate some of the sheetmetal on the car because the necessary parts were not to be found. The mid-year ’32 Plymouth PBs are a little wider and longer than early ’32 PBs or the ’33s, so HRCC re-created the hood vents, front valance, and firewall from photographs and, by adding the original Plymouth grille, they had to run the steering rack farther back so the grille could match up to the channeled body configuration. Tannahill also fabbed a pair of mini vent covers, which cover the cowl vent openings when the hood is off. HRCC and Ogden Top & Trim also fit a sliding ragtop to the roof, which is covered in Haartz Stayfast black canvas. Rad Rides by Troy stepped in again when it was time to fabricate the trunk and doorsill plates (inscribed with the car’s name), brake and gas pedals, and speaker covers. Once all the fabrication was done, Flatline Kustoms in Bloomingdale, Illinois, and U.S. Kustoms in Sandwich, Illinois, sprayed the car with single-stage PPG black paint, which was followed by a subtle pinstripe under the running boards, rearend, firewall, and engine compartment by Voodoo Larry. Finishing off the exterior is the addition of ’41 Plymouth taillights and a set of ’33 Chrysler Imperial headlights.

Jane got her wish for the interior color scheme as Ogden Top & Trim was able to locate the right shade of blue leather (and similar to Connolly leather) for the pleated layout used on the custom bench/bucket seat Ogden made for the car. Blue suede was used elsewhere in the coupe, including the headliner. Voodoo Larry Kustoms laid out a simple blue pinstripe around the twin gauge cluster, a ’34 Plymouth unit reworked by Classic Instruments, and Advanced Plating refinished all of the chrome.

Steering is handled by a ’37 Ford banjo-type steering wheel from Mac’s, and a tall Lokar shifter (topped with a ’40s-era crystal door knob) keeps the kool ’50s coupe look alive. You’d also never know there was a killer stereo system in the car as the Alpine-based system, 500-watt amp, XM satellite system, and iPad/iPhone connections are all well hidden.

Scott and Jane named their car “Moxie”, and it soon hit the show circuit once it was finished. While attending the 2012 Detroit Autorama, the coupe won a Painless Wiring STREET RODDER Top 100 award, and earlier this year it was one of the 11 finalists in this magazine’s naming of its Street Rod of the Year.

But despite the initial show car pedigree, Scott and Jane built the car to drive, and that’s what they’re gearing up to do this summer, right after they attach the No’Mads Club plaque John used to run on his cars while tooling around Milwaukee in the ’50s. So if you see Moxie out at a local cruise night somewhere around their hometown of Naperville, Illinois, stroll up and take a gander. It’ll be worth your time.


Just the Facts

Year: 1932
Make: Plymouth
Model: PB Coupe
Owner: Scott & Jane Billish
State: Illinois