20th Oct 2023
Auction Highlight: 1932 Ford Model B Roadster
by Collecting Cars
For almost as long as there have been cars, there have been people who are dedicated to making them go faster.
Going as far back as the 1920s, it’s thought that bootleggers during the United States’ prohibition-era modified their cars for enhanced performance, allowing them to outrun the authorities.
What soon became known as ‘hot rods’ quickly followed, with enthusiasts racing souped-up cars on the dry lakebeds of Los Angeles – largely Ford Model Ts, As, or Bs, as seen in this Auction Highlight.
A so-called ‘Highboy’ hot rod due to its body being mounted in the original position on top of the frame rails and the fenders and running boards having been removed; this 1932 Ford Model B Roadster was built by renowned hot rodder Bob Welstead. Among his other well-known creations is the chopped and sectioned 1935 Hillman Minx known as ‘Moulin Rouge’.
Discovered while Welstead was on the hunt for a coupe, this Roadster had been freshly imported from the US, having been sourced from St Louis, Missouri, by its previous owner. While the brakes and wheels had been upgraded, the rest of the car remained untouched, making it an ideal canvas for a custom build.
Retaining its very rare original steel body, rather than a later reproduction, this eye-catching hot rod featured dropped I-beams, unsplit front wishbones, and a Ford banjo rear axle. Riding on original-type transverse leaf spring suspension on all four corners but with upgraded So-Cal Speed Shop tube shocks, it was resprayed in a dark satin brown hue, and the interior was retrimmed in handsome Oxblood red leatherette.
Of course, no hot rod would be complete without a suitably upgraded engine, and this Model B didn’t disappoint. Assembled by renowned French flathead builder, Royal Kustoms, its 284ci V8 was rebuilt with Ross forged pistons, Scat H-beam con-rods, and a Tatom custom-grind cam.
The engine also featured 1.6-inch inlet and exhaust valves, ported and polished low-compression Motor City blower heads, a dynamically balanced bottom end, and a lightened flywheel.
Additional power was liberated by a Weiand 142 supercharger on a Roadrunner manifold which, combined with triple Stromberg 97 carburettors on a Vintage Speed manifold, and Speedway ‘block hugger’ centre dump headers, saw this flathead produce around 240bhp, which was sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed Tremec TKO500 manual transmission and a Centreforce dual-friction clutch.
A rare find even in the US, let alone on UK shores, this original Henry Ford steel-bodied Model B Roadster ultimately secured an impressive winning bid of £57,000, demonstrating that classic hot rods still hold a special place in enthusiasts’ hearts some 100 years since their inception.