A 1932 Ford Roadster Combines Classic Car and Cool Hot Rod Influences
Written by Tim Bernsau on April 27, 2015 Contributors: Nick Chappelle
Nick Chappelle’s Nova went fast. The 1963 Chevy was his first project car, black with a blood red leather interior, bagged, and small-block powered. He had finished it two weeks before getting married and drove it from the church with his bride. After the honeymoon, he entered the car at the PPG Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, where someone made an offer on it and he sold it. Like we said, it went fast.
Selling the Nova opened the door for Nick to start his second project. He’d always wanted a Deuce roadster, and an Internet search turned up a decent driver down in Georgia. Back in Ohio, the Deuce was driven for a summer. Then it moved into a corner of the shop where Nick works, so he could wrench on it as time allowed. Nick works for noted builder Don “The Egyptian” Boeke at The Egyptian Body Shop in Dayton, so he had a great facility for building his hot rod as well as a talented boss to provide assistance, ideas, inspiration, and motivation.
Disassembly didn’t take long; collecting parts took a little longer, and putting it all together took a lot longer. By Christmastime, the roadster was showing just a little progress. “One morning my boss asked me to pull some parts out of the trunk of a 1955 Lincoln we’d been working on,” Nick remembers. “When I opened the trunk, there sat a fully polished, totally rebuilt, bad-to-the-bone vintage B&M blower with dual side-draft Mikuni carbs resting on a polished intake. I about fell over. ‘What’s that go on?’ I asked. ‘Your Deuce. Happy holidays!’ he said.
That induction setup sits like a crown on top of a 327 small-block. The engine had been in the car, but was rebuilt to work with the new setup. Local longtime dirt track racer Warren Shingleton from Singleton Motorsports performed the machining and assembly. Dart Iron Eagle heads are topped with OTB Gear valve covers. Drag racer Marty Miller helped Nick dial in the blower and carbs for the best performance. The Mikunis have been fitted with custom domed bug screen air filters. Stainless steel block-hugger headers and Flowmaster pipes and mufflers (and cutouts just below the cowl) take care of the exhaust. Backing up that small-block is a Muncie “rock crusher” four-speed sending torque to the 3.05 gears in a Currie Ford 9-inch rear.
The chassis starts with SO-CAL Speed Shop 1932 Ford-style framerails, which Nick modified with dimple die plates on the inside. He shortened the ‘rails in the rear and curved the bottom to flow into the polished aluminum spreader bar. The Currie rearend is suspended with a chromed four-link and Panhard bar and a pair of QA1 coilover shocks. At the front, Nick runs a Pete & Jake’s chrome frontend package, including a dropped and drilled I-beam axle, hairpins, buggy spring, and tubular shocks, plus finned disc brake housings.
Nick and Don Boeke had been throwing around ideas for the look of the roadster. A 1936 Duesenberg project built a few years ago at The Egyptian Body Shop inspired the vent styling in the roadster’s three-piece hood. “Starting with flat stock, a layout, and a Pullmax machine, we pulled two near-perfect panels,” Nick said. The hood top is from Brookville and the body is from Wescott’s Auto. The 1934 commercial headlights and 1939 taillights add traditional hot rod style. The Dick Rodwell and Stanley Wanlass curved windshield was “a must’ to complement the roadster, according to Nick. He prepped the sheetmetal and refinished the body in Washington Blue using Glasurit 55 Line paint. The Egyptian loaded his paintbrush and pulled subtle red pinstripes the length of the beltline and on the dash, and added more elaborate multi-colored ‘striping to the nose and deck. The pinstripes are matched by the red 15-inch Kelsey Hayes wire wheels. The tire combination produces the classic big ‘n’ little look, with 600-15 Excelsior Racing tires in front and 820-15 Firestone Deluxe Champion grooved dirt track tires mounted in the rear.
Caramel-colored leather is a great complement to the blue paint, and was stitched in clean rolls ‘n’ pleats style to cover a Wise Guys bench seat. The same treatment was applied to the panels as well as the trunk. The wool carpet is a slightly darker shade. Nick dressed up the dash with a polished engine-turned Auburn-style dash, loaded with Auto Meter’s deco-inspired Antique Beige gauges, headlight switch, and ignition pull-start switch. He mounted a vintage B&M boost gauge on the chrome LimeWorks steering column. A 15-inch leather-wrapped banjo wheel tops the column.
The roadster was built in three years, and Nick says the first cool-breeze, top-off, sunset cruise in his finished car—complete with thumbs-up approval from onlookers—is a ride he’ll always remember. He’s shown the Deuce at the PPG Nats in Columbus, just like he did with his Nova. It got the same amount of attention, but this one’s not for sale. Not for now anyway. Nick’s more interested in driving it. “I always wanted a great 1932 roadster,” he says, “and this car is the epitome of a hot rod.”