Looking all the world like they have rolled of the “little pages” rod & custom magazines of the fifties, Laurie & Alicia Urlich’s pair of early Ford hot rods are in fact survivors. Both cars were built in the fifties not in the USA but in Hawaii but now they are on the street in Hamilton, New Zealand. We often think if you can nail the look or era of a hot rod or custom cars then you’ve hit a home run. Laurie & Alicia’sDeuce five window and Model A roadster are all of that and more as Laurie has faithfully preserved, improved and maintained the heritage of these two cars for us all to enjoy. With a life time of various forms of motorsport enjoyed by Laurie, its original old hot rods from his younger years which really appeal the most to him. These memories of his past led Laurie to locating the 1932 Ford five window coupe on eBay in 2009.
Imported from Honolulu, Hawaii the coupe was originally built by Rudy Kealoha in the early fifties as a hot rod. By the late sixties it had turned into a drag car before Layne Yoshimura found the body and chassis in early 2000 and rebuilt the car. Once shipped home to New Zealand, the coupe was completely stripped down and rebuilt with the assistance of Brett Stinson and Laurie’s wife Alicia as well as Dan and the team at Rocket Speed Equipment in Hamilton, New Zealand. With a fully chromed early Ford driveline & undercarriage and a well detailed Ford flathead V8 engine, this little coupe epitomises the genre of a fifties show car. All of which is finished off with the Starfire hubcaps other timeless styling cues such as the 1940 Ford dash and steering wheel, chrome nerf bars, Halibrand quickchange and the lovely white and red pleated interior stitched by Jason at Waikato Motor Trimmers. The fit and finish of the coupe along with the component choice is pure hot rod art and a true lesson as to how beautiful a timeless chopped and channelled Deuce five window is.
If one is good then two is better right? Well that’s what Laurie thought as the roadster you see here was almost a case of the one which slipped away. Laurie first saw the car on eBay around 2012 for sale and turned out it was been sold by the same guy who Laurie had purchased the ‘32 coupe from and kept an eye on the car. After that Laurie kept thinking about this little a roadster and 6 months after first seeing it he decided to give Layne a call about the car and Layne forwarded some info and pics about the car and while Laurie was on his way back from the 2014 LA Roadster show in June he decided to stop off at Honolulu on his way home and check out the roadster. After viewing the roadster he come back thought about it some more and went and talked to Dan at Rocket and decided that they both would go back to Honolulu to give it a complete check over and to see how much work there would be in getting it complied and certified for use on New Zealand roads and after a whirl wind 24hr in Tuesday and out Wednesday out trip. They checked over the car a deal was done and celebrated with couple boxes of Pilsners Blue Ribbon with Layne and arrangements were made to send the car back to New Zealand. Upon arrival to New Zealand four months later the car underwent all the required modifications at Rocket Speed Equipment to meet certification and compliance regulations and eleven months after purchasing the car it was legal for New Zealand roads and sitting next to the ’32 in Laurie’s garage.
The Okuda Roadster as it’s affectionately known named after its builder Isamu Okuda was built in Honolulu Hawaii around1952. Up until the late sixties the car was very prominent and it was in parades and events where Layne Yoshimura first saw it as a kid. Like most hot rods etched in history, the Okuda Roadster disappeared until Layne found it 2008. Sitting in an old shed it was in good condition body wise apart from red oxide primer had been applied. In 2009 Layne purchased it from the family estate and went about restoring the car back to how he remembered it and completed it in late 2010. The roadster reads like a textbook of small format rod and restyling ideas of the fifties with a channelled body over the Deuce frame, custom side and rear rolled pans, a peaked and shortened Deuce grille, custom two-piece hood top and louvered side panels, custom fenders to suit the channelled proportions and the fuel tank relocated to the trunk. The car was entirely owner built by Isamu Okuda between 1952 and 1954.
Okuda also carried out all the mechanical modifications to the chassis which included stepping the front crossmember forward to accommodate the ’39 Ford V8 style front suspension. Likewise to the coupe the roadster is fitted with a detailed 59a Ford flathead V8 engine and early Ford driveline. The black paint and white and red interior are all carried out by Layne in Hawaii and are more than fitting with the coupe and also sports Starfire hubcaps to match each other. While this pair of early Ford hot rods don’t have the extensive pedigree or credentials of the really well known USA built hot rods of the fifties, THEY BOTH have much valued hot rod history in Hawaii. What is neat that in a whole world away in New Zealand these two cars are preserved and respected for what they are and what a beautiful pair they are too?