One thing I love about the Japanese is their complete lack of restraint when it comes to doing what they want. When someone goes all-out in a break from the norm in this overly regulated country, it’s both exciting and refreshing.
This all came to me in the middle of a busy road in an industrial estate in Chiba, as I knelt down on the center-line and composed a shot of a 1932 Ford Model B slowly coming towards me. The subject and foreground were so completely unrelated and mismatched, that it actually made sense. Yep, that’s Japan for you, a place where wonderful sights like this one aren’t so uncommon if you know where to look…
For this shoot it was Andy’s Rod Works – a one-man operation that’s a goldmine of Americana, from the cars that it builds to the actual shop itself. I’ve got a shop tour coming up late next week, but before that I want to share a couple of cars that Ando-san – aka Andy – has put together, starting with this Deuce.
This is a car that I’ve been looking forward to checking out in detail since I first saw it back in December at the Hot Rod & Custom Show in Yokohama.
The old Ford found its way to Japan directly via the USA in its already roof-chopped form. According to Andy, it’s hard to say when the custom work had been carried out, but given the rough state of the car it had obviously been quite a while back. To say the Deuce was in dire need of TLC would be a massive understatement.
And that’s when Andy came into the picture. If you remember the Worx Chevelle Wagon I featured – and totally fell for – in January, you’ve already seen some of Andy’s work as he played a part in that build. But the Deuce was a far bigger proposition than that, and required a full strip down and comprehensive restoration to bring it up to show quality. That was no problem for Andy though, as this sort of thing is his bread and butter, but needing it to be unveiled at the Mooneyes show meant he only had two months to complete the entire project.
That called for some drastic measures, and over the space of the eight weeks Andy pretty much took up permanent residency in his workshop and slaved away day and night. The existing roof chop set the tone for the build, but a lot of extra metalwork and fabrication was required to get the ’32 looking and sitting just right, starting off with the front fenders. These were cut and elongated to droop down deeper over the front wheels, resulting in a meaner look from the front-on profile.
Chrome 16-inch Kidney Bean wheels from PS Engineering were chosen, and for a vintage feel are locked in place with knock-offs.
The idea was to keep things as simple as possible and let the small details speak for themselves – something that sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Given the age of the car and the production methods that were in use 83 years ago, there were a ton of issues with symmetry and having things line up properly. Even the Ford logo on the grille was slanted and had to be adjusted.
Once the body was stripped of its paint and sanded, all the imperfections were removed and smoothed out to guarantee the best possible finish once the black paint was laid down. In the bodywork’s bare state Andy took the time to single out all the little defects that needed fixing, like the panel gaps around the rear-hinged door, which were welded up and filled in for a tight seal. In many ways, the majority of the work went into the stuff that you can’t see, but it all results in what is a stunningly finished hot rod.
Andy spent a lot of time working on the chassis, which included enlarging the C notches so that the ’32 could sit lower. The underside was then finished off with the revision and re-chroming of all the suspension components. And as you can see, no detail was spared.
Further custom metalwork was made to the running boards, and the rear fenders had their edges extended slightly in an effort to get the right look with the tall Firestone tyres.
Lift the trunk lid and you’ll find a nicely trimmed and carpeted space; the heavy Optima Red Top battery mounted on the opposite side to the driver to balance out the weight.
The exterior is dotted with cool details like this original chrome fuel filler cap stamped with the Ford logo.An 8-Stacked Chevy
But the real excitement is found beneath the grilled covers that hinge upwards to review one half of the engine at a time.
Of course, what makes the Model B so important in American automotive history is the fact that it was the first mass-produced car to be offered with a V8. The Ford Flathead pretty much sparked the V8 movement, and the rest – as they say – is history. So it’s no surprise to find an eight cylinder engine powering this Deuce.
Except it’s not a Ford Flathead, but rather a Chevy 350ci small block.
With most of its details either chrome-plated or polished, the engine sits almost isolated in the blacked-out bay. The coolest part has to be the four 44mm Weber carbs with chrome stacks on an Inglese 8-Stack System intake.
It’s a great match for the small block’s big cam and helps the engine produce a hefty bump in power over its stock 290hp rating.
The headers dump into a custom-made exhaust system that runs all the way to the back of the Ford, although when the time calls, this can be easily disconnected for extra aural effect.
Seeing the Deuce ride around in the busy streets of Chiba made for a sight only matched by its sound. Even driving past, you know a ton of man hours has been poured into its fastidious detailing.
And it looks just as fast and menacing as it does when it’s parked up. The extra inch or so of drop that Andy added works so well, and the low ride height is easy to get away with in Japan as most city roads are billiard table smooth.Redefining Custom
I love the minimalistic feel of the interior, but again this look wouldn’t have been possible without Andy’s touch. With everything stripped out, he went ahead and reinforced the floor and added two slightly raised steel cross-members onto which the seats are cleanly mounted.
Pretty much everything the interior came with was removed and replaced, including the steering column, steering wheel, seats and instrument panel. Andy sourced a chromed column that fits in perfectly with the clean vintage feel of the build, and after positioning he shut the floor panels around it to create a clean seal. The two-spoke Ford V8 15-inch steering wheel is a superb touch too.
The details followed, from the chromed accelerator pedal to the door handles and window winders which replace the mismatched items the car arrived with. Andy even added a handbrake between the seats and topped it all off with a well chosen lever to actuate the 5-speed Doug Nash transmission. Drive is sent to the rear wheels via a quick-change Halibrand rear end, which in true hot rod style is geared up for fast road work.
When Andy got his hands on the ’32 it had a shoddy aftermarket instrument stack made up of five modern-looking gauges arranged on a plain sheet of metal. It was duly trashed, and replaced with a custom-turned aluminium panel fitted with Stewart Warner black-backed dials. Against the glossy black dash, it looks simply stunning.
The tachometer, again a matching Stewart Warner item, is positioned in a slightly recessed area to the left of the steering column.
It’s a superbly executed interior, and on top of the leather on the seats and door cards, soft suede was used for the headliner and door inserts, with beige carpeting covering the rest of the cabin.
It’s no wonder that this car was one of the hottest rides at last year’s Hot Rod & Custom Show.
But knowing that the Deuce has been so meticulously fixed up and perfected by just one man in the space of just eight short weeks is the really impressive bit.
If you love this creation, I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that it wasn’t the only car I found hiding inside Andy’s workshop. Next up is a machine from the wonderful ’40s – a whole decade after the Deuce originally hit the streets. Can you guess what it might be?
Dino Dalle Carbonare