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Ed’s 32 Highboy (Denver)

Words: Ed Gallagher Pics:Tim Sutton

This ’32 Ford build began when I saw an ad for a rolling ’32 Ford chassis on Craigslist in Denver. The seller said that it had been used as a hayride in Nebraska in the 50’s, that’s why it was painted yellow. It had big chunks of metal welded to it for a platform for people to ride on! Can you imagine making a hayride out of a ’32 Ford chassis today?

So, I bought the chassis and began collecting parts. I tried to find a real Henry ’32 roadster body but ended up buying a Brookville body instead. I knew I wanted it to be a ’40’s style hot rod so I knew I needed a flathead and ’39 Ford trans which I also found on Craigslist for sale along with a ’40 Ford banjo rear end. Besides the frame, many parts of the roadster are original Ford pieces. The front axle, spring and wishbone and the pedals are original and the grille, radiator and firewall are also real ’32 parts. The car also has a full hood which is also real ’32 Ford, I usually take it off during the summer because of the heat.

I added a vintage Edmunds dual carb intake and new Edelbrock block letter heads to the engine and some vintage Stromberg 97 carbs that I rebuilt. The flathead is a 1938 81A engine displacing 221 cubic inches although it has been bored .060 over. The transmission is a ’39 with stock Ford gears and the rear end is a ’40 Ford with 3.78 gears. Both the trans and rear end were rebuilt by Ivan Fiechter. I used a ’40 Ford rear spring with reversed eyes on the main leaf to lower the car. I had to grind the spring to fit in the ’32 rear crossmember. I also used a ’53 Ford F100 steering box and mated a ’40 Ford steering wheel to the steering shaft. The car also has a closed driveline just like it did when it left the Ford factory. The front brakes are ’48 Ford and the rears are ’40 Ford. The wheels are 16” steel Ford rims, 16 X 4 up front and 16 X 4.5 in the rear, shod with Firestone Deluxe Champions from Coker. The tires are 16 X 5.50 up front and 16 X 7.00 in the rear for that 1940’s stance. The hubcaps are ’46 Ford.

One of the benefits of living in Denver is that Neal East lives here too and I’ve become good friends with Neal and have talked with him at length about the Doane Spencer roadster. Somehow when I was building the car, I started to think like Doane and I tried to make every part be as perfect as I could make it and be special to the car. I wanted the whole car to be slick and smooth so I spent a lot of time grinding and sanding parts that I made like the headlight mounts which were made from a Model A headlight bar and the front shock mounts which were made from original Ford F1 truck shock mounts. I scratch built the lower shock mounts. I built the engine turned dashboard as sort of an homage to Doane because it looked so good on his car I figured, why not! The dash insert is an aluminum piece I got from So-Cal and I carefully drilled all the holes and filled them with vintage Stewart Warner gauges and knobs from a ’49 Ford.

The headlights are B-L-C 904A and the directional lights are vintage Guide lights and the taillights are ’48 Ford. The license plate light is a vintage Hollywood Accessories light.

The interior has a stock reproduction ’32 Ford seat and door panels covered in dark Red marine vinyl that stretches in the sun since there is no top to protect it. The interior was stitched by Mary Holinger and she nailed the rollover on the back of the seat perfectly! There is a black rug and the column drop is from a ’38 Ford truck that I shortened and narrowed and pie cut to fit under the ’32 dashboard. The 2” chopped windshield is from Vintique with a ’48 Ford rear view mirror attached.

The paint is basic black base coat, clear coat from Matrix and was sprayed by Steve Born at SJB Specialties. I did all the body and prep work on the body and chassis, it was a lot of sanding!

The biggest thrill was when I got the car together and running in bare metal after 9 months of working on it and was able to drive it around in the parking lot of the shop I was working in. That was the first time I had ever driven or even ridden in a ’32 Ford!


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