Modern Rodding STARTING OVER
Amazing What You Can Find

o, I find myself at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, working on the “Cup” project for a magazine article when I stumble across the original (#1) SO-CAL Speed Shop ’32 Ford highboy roadster. This is the two-tone red with white scallop paint scheme that was the original car Pete Chapouris built for the famous Southern California speed shop that he was so proud to be part of.

To be exact, while I was in the press room writing up web stories on the Barrett-Jackson Cup, I get a phone call from Dean Livermore of Hot Rods by Dean. (The auction is in his backyard so every year he and I make sure to get a couple of days at the auction to see what’s happening.) There is no doubt that this year saw both a marked growth in attendance and in the dollars many collectable cars are bringing. Now, early hot rods are still “soft,” in my opinion, and that may just be the way it will be for a while, however, such cars as Camaros are holding strong, as are the Corvettes. In fact, Corvette prices may be on an upward movement. Clearly the show darlings were classic trucks and that includes the four-wheel-drive sister trucks like the Chevrolet Blazers of the ’70s and the Broncos of the late ’60s and early ’70s. One ’68 Bronco brought in $385,000! Throw into this mix the fullsize Cadillacs of the ’60s and ’70s and a few from the early ’80s were bringing surprisingly good money.

But I digress. The ’32 roadster brought back lots of good memories as this hot rod was part of a handful of editorial stories for me back in the day. Not only was there the original build but also a series of stories when dropping in an early version of the LS3 E-Rod, complete with an LS V-8, automatic, computers, and fuel emissions equipment. When completed this roadster would pass the most stringent of smog checks offered by any state, and that includes California. Chevy now offers many popular combinations under the Connect & Cruise system.

I received a phone call from Pete one day and he says, “Hey, do you have a few days to drive around Arizona?” Puzzling for sure, but what the heck. It was my experience any time Pete suggested doing something it always worked out to be an experience. These get-togethers would leave me with plenty of stories for years to come. I found myself telling Pete, “Where and when?” We literally spent the next three days driving around Arizona in the refreshed ’32 Ford highboy roadster replete with the latest in technology–the E-Rod system in the first hot rod.

We drove around the state of Arizona stopping at different shops and visiting hot rodders and racers alike while getting their feedback, to be sure it was an eye opener, and everyone liked the conversion. The roadster performed flawlessly and rode and drove amazingly. In fact, it rode and drove so well that we were pulled over by an Arizona State Trooper for “exceeding” the posted 75-mph speed limit. Suffice it to say, two digits weren’t enough to represent our speed. After pulling us over he immediately began to chuckle a bit.

His first comment was, “Aren’t you boys a bit old to be speeding like this.” All Pete and I could do was smile. We did promise to back it down a bit, which the trooper thought was a good idea. Of course, Pete still received a speeding ticket but he “knocked” it down so that he didn’t have to deal with us any further. I will say that tickets in Arizona, at the time, weren’t nearly as “damaging” as they were in California. Pete figured it was worth the experience (sort of).

We continued our adventure driving throughout the days and well into the nights. I remember the nighttime drives were particularly enjoyable. The daytime temps were doable while the nighttime temps were idyllic for legging it out on desert roads. Cool temps, quiet with only the rushing wind to let you know you were moving effortlessly through the night’s air. Looking up at the darkened sky was also especially pleasant capping off the drive as one of my most memorable hot rod drives.

Maybe someday I will be able to recreate that drive and really bring back more of these great drive memories from the past. In closing, I should say one lucky hot rodder purchased the roadster for $70,000–a lot of money but far less than what it would cost to build such a great hot rod.

Red and white '32 Ford roadster
Red and white '32 Ford roadster with sold sign on front windshield
Brown leather interior or Red and white '32 Ford roadster
Modern Rodding

VOLUME 4 • ISSUE 30 • 2023