Just the Facts
Owner: Ken Thurm
Like the Rolling Stones used to sing: "You can't always get what you want." When you buy cars, or even parts thereof, off the Internet, it seems like you're always rolling the dice, wondering if what is pictured or described will even be half the quality of what you get. Sometimes it works out but, for a lot of people, it doesn't.
Ken Thurm knows about this newly minted fact of life all too well. After checking out a 1932 Ford sedan on eBay, he made the deal and bought the car based on what he saw and read. But it was misrepresented—so bad he couldn't even use the cowl they shipped with the rest of the parts. Ken wanted to build a "family" car because he, his wife, Tina, and their 10-year-old grandson, Matthew, couldn't all fit very well in the roadster or 1932 truck he also owned.
Ken, who owns a company that manufacturers motorcycle and ATV trailers that can fold up and tuck away in the corner of a garage, is a pretty hands-on kind of guy. So he took building his own hot rod something of a challenge (and what he couldn't do, his buddies helped out), and really went the extra mile to produce something spectacular.
The project took about five years to complete, and started with 1932 framerails from ASC, which Ken shortened 2 inches, creating a wheelbase of 104 inches. Ken also modified them by creating a new swept-up front frame section that provided a kick of 3 inches but also a curve that is pleasing to the eye. The rear was then kicked 6 inches. Where the main section of the frame meets most of the body, Ken stepped the 'rails down a few more inches, which allowed the body to sit lower without channeling the body, but he also added boxed tubing inside the framerails to add strength. A Winters quick-change (3.50:1) went in along with a set of 42-inch ladder bars, and Ken made his own antiroll bar.
Ken used a Model A leaf spring and SO-CAL Speed Shop shocks up front, and drum brakes are on each corner ('94 Ford in the rear, 1939 Lincoln up front) along with Wheel Smith wires (15x4 and 15x7) shod in Firestone 5.00 and 8.20 tires. Ken also made his own steering column, and came up with a unique steering design to go along with it. Wanting as much foot space as possible when in the driver seat, he moved the Schroeder cowl-mount steering box up under the dash as high as he could. In order to not produce bumpsteer, moving the box up would have created a very long Pitman arm, thus radically changing the steering ratio. To have a shorter Pitman arm (and the correct geometry), Ken installed a second steering box of his own design inside the sedan in the kick panel area. The output shaft now pokes out of the body at the right spot, and he figured out the right size sprocket to run to achieve the right 18:1 steering ratio. It's connected to the Schroeder box via a chain drive, and everything works as it supposed to, though it's a bit unconventional.
Reids Rod Parts supplied the drilled four-spoke Sprint Car wheel. Some might say this is t
The aluminum work done by Ken incorporated building a pair of bomber-type bucket seats. Le
Hand bucking rivets takes a lot of effort, and there are 2,086 hand-bucked rivets used in
During the mock-up stage of the build, Ken had a Flathead with a pair of Ardun heads bolted up, but he opted out of that idea and went with a 286 Flattie machined by BEP Racing Engines. Ken assembled the engine with a SCAT crank, Ross pistons, an Isky 400jr camshaft, and dialed in the heads from Motor City Flatheads with an 8:1 compression ratio. To feed the V-8 Ken turned to Tom Roberts Design in Ventura for one of their blower drive units and the special intake they made up for the Flathead.
The riveted carb ring was fab’d by Untouchable Metal Works. A pair of powdercoated Strombe
Getting gas to the carbs is a long, circuitous route. It starts when Ken cracks the cap open to fill the Moon tank located forward of the grille. Behind the grille is a 190-gph fuel pump that pushes the gas to another 14-gallon tank at the rear of the car through a -10 line (there's a toggle switch that powers the pump located behind the grille, too). When the fuel pump is turned on, a solenoid closes the vent tube for the main gas tank. There's also a return line that comes back up to the Moon tank so, when gas comes out of it, Ken knows the system is full. And there's another small fuel pump that feeds the engine. And, if need be, Ken can throw a switch inside the car that makes the Moon tank operate as a reserve for an extra 3-1/2 gallons.
On top of the motor a pair of powdercoated Stromberg 97s mix the gas and air, and a Vertex magneto and wires deliver the spark. The headers (built by Ken and Don Lindfors) are unique, too, in that there is a standard exhaust tube fitted to the inside of the Limefire-style headers. Ken wanted it to look like he ran open headers, so when you look inside you can't see another tube inside. The exhaust then runs under the car and out through Bassani mufflers. A TREMEC five-speed transmission butts up to the Flathead and is equipped with a McLeod Racing clutch.
What you might notice first about the body is the chop, where Ken took 4 inches out of the posts, and 3 from the B-pillar and the rest of the car (except in the rear window where it was 2 inches), but you may not notice he shortened the body 1-1/2 inches in the quarter-panel just behind the doorjamb. Some might notice the wheelwells were raised 2 inches, while others would hone in on the filled roof—made by Ken out of two sheets of steel. A two-part bonding goo secured it to the roof's framework, and the edges were welded in place. The steel hood was also modified so the carbs could stick through, and Untouchable Metal Works in Colton, California, made the ring that is held in place by rivets.
And if you like rivets, you're gonna love the interior to Ken's sedan. Untouchable Metal started the interior for Ken using aluminum sheet and rivets, and eventually 2,086 hand-bucked rivets in all were used. Back in his shop Ken finished the harder interior sections (such as the upper corner pieces) and built the bomber-type seats, too.
Once the fabrication stopped, the bodywork began, and Jeff Sherman made sure everything was straight and flat before he painted the car gloss black. Miracle Design in Huntington Beach added the 11-D graphics to the door after asking Ken, "What do you want?" Ken replied, "What's the cheapest number you have?" and they answered, "The number one." Ken said "Give me four of them" and the 11-D was born.
The Winters quick-change has been fitted with Currie axles and set up with a 3.50:1 gear r
Inside the car there is some minimal upholstery work on the seats from Kiwi Upholstery, and winged Stewart-Warner gauges occupy the aluminum dash insert made by Knecht Equipment Company. There's a sixth gauge—a tachometer—in an aluminum pod bolted to a homemade steering column, which is topped with a four-spoke Sprint-style steering wheel.
Throughout the build Ken found the machining Scott Longnecker did for him was invaluable. Ken would draw something out on a napkin of scrap of paper and Scott would bring him back a finished part. Scott, Mike Williams, and Jesse Johnson all work for Ken's company, and they all had a hand in putting the car together.
Five years after he started the project, Ken's grandson is now 15 years old, and Ken is hoping he might get more interested in hot rods. Matthew likes to kid Ken about possibly wanting some type of green hybrid as his first car, but we feel all Matthew has to do is take one blast in his grandpa's jalopy and he'll be hooked!
When looking into the Limefire-style headers, you don’t see the exhaust tube that runs fro
BEP Racing Engines machined the 286-inch Flattie before Ken assembled it using a SCAT cran