This 1932 Ford rolling chassis just begs to become an A/V-8. Here’s how I’d build it -David Conwill @Hemmings

This 1932 Ford rolling chassis just begs to become an A/V-8. Here’s how I’d build it -David Conwill @Hemmings


Back in the late 1930s or 1940s, if you wanted a 1932 Ford roadster and couldn’t find or afford one, the next best route was to build your own by buying some other kind of 1932 Ford and a 1928-’31 Ford Model A roadster, dispose of the ’32 body and the Model A chassis, and put the remains together. A lot of people came to prefer the combination of fenderless ’32 chassis and Model A roadster body because the less-massive Model A body wasn’t as unbalanced by the removal of the fenders as the Deuce was—plus the ’32 frame helped make up for the visual loss of the Model A splash aprons.

There aren’t too many unloved ‘32s waiting around these days to have their chassis pirated; likewise, few unclaimed Model A roadster bodies. You can buy reproduction 1932 frame rails, of course, but most people don’t care to go to all the trouble of replicating the details of a stock ’32 chassis when off-the-shelf hardware from the street rod suppliers does the trick. That’s why this rolling ’32 chassis in the classifieds presents a unique opportunity to build a period-correct Deuce-framed A/V-8 with minimal effort.

By 1932, the rod-actuated mechanical Ford brakes had gotten pretty good. Still, the hydraulic system introduced in 1939 and used here in its 1940-’48 form is better supported in today’s aftermarket and understood by the modern enthusiast. It also permits lowering the chassis at some point without me

Surprisingly, this chassis is built around a mint-condition original frame, says the seller, “from an original roadster.” That likely means that roadster is getting a street-rod update. It must have been a nice car to begin with, however, as the ad says the chassis was rebuilt in 2006. It was also upgraded at that time, incorporating a 1934-spec Columbia two-speed rear axle (Ford’s optional overdrive up through 1948); a 1939 Ford transmission; and 1940 Ford (Lockheed)-style 12×2 hydraulic drum brakes.

By 1939, even years of development had created a really pleasant gearbox for the Ford V-8. Slipping one into a ’32 chassis like this is easy.

At least two of those upgrades were actually current 1932 technology—just not at The Rouge. The Columbia was available in contemporary Auburn cars, and the Lockheed brakes were already found on Chrysler products. Columbia axles for the Ford were a spiritual successor to the Ruckstell two-speed axles used in Ford Model Ts. The Columbia was controlled by vacuum, rather than mechanical linkage, however.

You’ve heard the line in the song about “twin pipes and a Columbia butt?” This is the Columbia. It’s a vacuum-actuated two-speed unit that was optional equipment in Auburns

The ’39 transmission is really a development of the 1932 transmission. The Model A transmission notoriously does not feature synchromesh, making up and down shifting a more complicated process and considered by some folks to be a step backward from the simple pedal-controlled transmission of the Model T. For 1932, Ford integrated synchronizers on second and third gear. The 1939 transmission has a more highly developed shifter and even better synchronizers than earlier units.

All that means that this chassis is already pretty much state of the art for 1940, aside from the Tacoma Cream 18-inch wheels—but those and their big sugar-donut whites are so nice looking, I think I’d leave them and even build the car around them. If they were on a roadster, then The Auto Color Library indicates it was originally painted Medium Lustre Black or Dearborn Blue.

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