There is an old saying, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
That old adage, when it comes to old hot rods, is especially true. While hot rod aesthetics and fashion have fluctuated over nearly 100 years, the genre never gets old even as the rodding scene morphs and evolves.
We’ve come a long way, baby. After WWII, kids bought junkyard Fords and hopped ’em up with boneyard motors, crudely built homemade parts, and some Sombreros snagged from the Midnight Auto Supply store. With no aftermarket industry, the guys had to be creative and most importantly, put it together on the cheap. The result was rickety rides that no one but an 18-year-old would dream of strapping on and going 100mph. Yet these trailblazers are now legendary, inspiring everything from music, movies, to greaser chic fashion.
Fast forward fifty years and a guy can aggregate an almost infinite assortment of the highest quality parts in the world to build a rod, all you need is money. The possibilities are endless with a myriad of suppliers building bodies, frames, suspensions, engines, and gauges. The trick is combining these elements in a new and interesting way.
Add a famous hot rod shop to the equation, and all of a sudden million-dollar hot rods are fairly common at car shows and auctions. A far cry from how it all began. The rat rod movement was a reaction to rich guys, billet parts, and unlimited budgets, and brought the hobby full circle back to its roots.
Scott Sharrock’s 1932 Ford Roadster straddles both worlds. It isn’t a rat, but it’s not a high-end trailer queen either. In fact, not only is the car a multiple award winner, but it’s been driven from Florida to California, and regularly cruised and enjoyed. One look at the film of oil and dust on the engine and a paint chip here or there are tell-tale signs that this isn’t an AMBR contender. Christened “Mr.Reliable” it isn’t a “perfect” build. Think of a well-oiled, broken-in baseball mitt and you get the idea.
Although Sharrock, hailing from Lexington, Ohio, didn’t build the car, (he bought it at a Mecum auction) he is a car guy through and through. His roots run deep and he won his first NHRA trophy when he was just sixteen years old. He’s been a drag racer for 60 years, amassing dozens of victories running a 1972 Dodge Dart as well as racing dealer-backed Yamaha motorcycles in the Seventies.
He acquired the ’32 after an arrangement made by the former owner, Edward Getzen, and his best friend. They made a pact that if either died, they would assist in selling each other’s cars and getting fair value for their wives. It’s a conversation all car guys need to have at some point, as no one gets out of here alive. Getzen passed and is now burning rubber in hot rod heaven. Shortly thereafter, that’s when our man Sharrock bought the car at auction.
The car was built by Takash Race Craft out of Florida over an 18-month period. A good foundation is critical and this ’32 has stout components. A rigid 1.5″ metal tube frame by Easyrider sports a stretched 106″ wheelbase and anchors the build.
Bringing up the rear is a Strange axle with a 9″ Ford rear, with 3:70 gears. A four-link, coil-over suspension with Aldan America shocks keeps everything tamped down. America Racing Torque-Thrust wheels, 15×5″ up front and 11×17″ in the rear, are wrapped in Nankang 135R15s and Falken 275/60/17s respectively. Four-piston brakes all the way around complete the rolling stock.
The car is powered by a 1995, 355ci small-block Chevy built by Richard Childress Racing out of Lexington, North Carolina. While not a fire-breather, it pumps out a healthy 425hp and 390 lb-ft of twist. The roadster breathes deep via an Inglese intake with a custom-built eight stack fuel injection unit and exhales through Blockhugger headers and Flowmaster exhaust. The GM 400R4 automatic transmission was built by Takash Race Craft. This combo provides more than enough scoot for this little roadster.
From there, a fiberglass Harwood ’32 roadster body stretched two inches was dropped onto the chassis. The tinted, split windshield was laid back 30 degrees, and framed with a custom surround built by Florida Roadster Shop. A metal hood with 90 louvers on each side and is secured with Bearclaw latches. The crowning touch is a fabric-covered Carson top with a 4″ haircut.
The plastic body was smoothed and massaged to glassy perfection by Hot Rod Parts Inc. and then sprayed out in PPG Ebony black by Pro Street Customs. Hi-Boy peepers light the way, and ’49 Merc rear taillights add a nice bit of bling to the build.
Inside the cabin, contrasting black and tan Ultra leather swath the seats, door panels, and one-off console. A custom metal dash, a banjo steering wheel, and seats are out of a Jaguar all play well together. The 2″ of interior space gained from the stretched body may seem incremental but as most roadster owners know, more is more when it comes to hot rods and legroom.
Meanwhile, Sharrock is having fun with the car. He constructed a building just to house it and tucks the roadster away during the winters. He loves cruising the car with his lovely wife Karen and while the car has garnered many ribbons and awards, the couple is especially fond of the “Pick of the Litter” award they received at a car show that was sponsored by the Human Society.
For now, the couple is enjoying and driving the car. With 18,500 miles on the clock, Sharrock looks forward to many more smiles and miles, and that’s where Mr. Reliable easily lives up to his name.
Photography by Randy Pugh – Full Throttle Studios