Just the Facts
While even from the outset Henry's V-8 debut platform was a work of rolling art, as far as hot rodders have been concerned, it's never quite been "good enough." Whether hopping up or chopping up, we've always seemed to find a way to improve … sometimes for advantageous aspects (speed); others simply for the sake of change.
But just when you think that nearly everything imaginable has already been done to the '32 Ford—over and over—think again. Jeff Kinsey, the main man behind Hot Rods by JSK in Cumby, Texas, wanted to do something different when he teamed up with hot rod aficionado Don Smith for his next build, which just happened to be specifically for the 2014 Ridler contention (no pressure there). Now, the fact that Don and Kinsey were starting with a rather notable car to begin with—Tex Smith's old '32 four-door sedan project—it was still just that, a '32 four-door sedan. No matter what Kinsey and the JSK crew did, whether it was chopping, channeling, sectioning, or all the above, it had all been done before. Or had it?
After some nights sitting around after 5 p.m. enjoying a few cold Silver Bullets, it finally came to Kinsey: Why not eliminate the B-pillar altogether? It had never been done before, and by his accounts, despite the severity of the modification, was not outside of his capabilities of accomplishing … in both a structurally and aesthetically pleasing manner, no less.
To the casual observer, Don's '32 looks for all intents and purposes to be a nicely yet subtly chopped and slightly channeled sedan—till the doors are slung open, that is. It is at this point when the wiser of the observers begins to question, "What do the doors actually latch to?" and "What's keeping the roof from caving in when the doors are open?" Good questions; better answers. In response to the inquiry regarding the securing of the doors when they're closed, Kinsey came up with a clever method to facilitate that function via the rockers and overhead jamb that latches both front and rear doors vertically rather than horizontally. As for the reinforcing, he (not so) simply created beefy box-tube sections top and bottom that don't appear beefy whatsoever.
Before all of that, however, a suitable chassis had to be constructed (the stock one that Tex had started with was set aside). Starting with 11-gauge and 1/4-inch raw materials, Hot Rods by JSK scratch-built a complete custom 106-inch foundation to accommodate a unique suspension setup. In the front, a Super Bell I-beam utilizes custom-made wishbones, Posies quarter-elliptic springs (that integrate "into" the framerail pockets), and a torsion-style sway bar; the rear setup is comprised of I-beam–style ladder bars, quarter-elliptics, and a Watts link centering a Winters V-8 quick-change. (Remember, all of this was done in preparation for the Ridler competition, so everything is detailed to the max, and you'll spend just as much time hunched over looking underneath the sedan as you will anywhere else—it's that intricate and interesting.) Dayton knock-off wires mounting Excelsior bias-ply rubber visibly attach to a quartet of Wilson Welding's '39 Lincoln brakes—with extra touches added, of course … and a Shroeder side-steer box directing the fronts.
Power wise, the sedan gets motivated by an injected Y-block circa 1957. Lonnie's Machine Shop (Greenville, Texas) first freshened up the engine using an offset-ground 312 crank and an Isky 505T came, while Autotrend EFI handled the eye candy aspiration—an electronically converted Hilborn fuel-injection system, complete with custom-made aluminum snorkel-type air screens (they also milled the stylish 312 'bird emblems emblazed on the tin valve covers). Spark is provided by a Joe Hunt mag with an ACCEL electronic controller feeding cloth-braided wiring loomed up by Sacramento Vintage Ford; exhaust is spent via JSK-built, internally coated stainless lakes-style headers that, when corked, feed through a 2-inch system with glasspacked suppressors. And using an adapter supplied by Bendtsen's, the Y-block has been mated to a Borg-Warner T5.
Back to the exterior. As mentioned, the top has been "gentlemanly" chopped (2 inches leading back to 1-3/4 inches) with a slight, 2-inch channel over the new chassis. Look closely at the cowl and pay particular attention to the lower sections—JSK spliced in '33-34 panels to flow parallel with the similarly influenced kick in the framerail. Among other things, they also raised and gently reshaped the rear wheelwells, including the rearmost doorjamb area to accommodate. And speaking of which, for those curious minds, that's also where the gas filler is now located (driver side). When all was said and done, Hot Rods by JSK covered the majority of metal surfaces in DuPont non-metallic Orange Crush, with accent striping done by Tanner Leaser (Arlington, Texas). Beyond the paint, special touches were added, such as the intricate front and rear spreader bars (with encapsulating mounts) and custom-made taillight stanchions supporting handmade buckets using stock '32 bezels/lenses (headlights are Guide 682s). Brightwork is mostly nickel plate dipped by North Texas Quality Chrome.
Inside Smith's pillar-less wonder is no less jaw-dropping—more so, actually, in some cases. From the dash clear back to the rear passenger seat, the Model B's spacious cockpit is truly a work of art. Beneath the Eric Brockmeyer–designed leather layout stitched 'n' stretched flawlessly by Paul Atkins (Hanceville, Alabama) is one of the most Deco-detailed interiors to date. Dimple-die'd seat pedestals/molded garnish and floating gauge pods (with Classic Instruments gauges) mimic chassis accents; custom-made hanging pedal assembly perfectly cradles the Sprint Car steering gear; and a hand-carved shifter emulates the various suspension components. The flooring, save for the leather-covered trans tunnel, has been covered in vintage running board material, while an ididit roadster column is topped with a Jimmy Smith-designed wheel created by Greening Auto Company.
Kinsey and Don may have taken runner-up at Detroit Autorama for their efforts—but all things considered, it was a winner before it ever rolled onto the floors of Cobo Center.