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One man’s mission to create a classic hot rod

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at 7:01 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, at 7:33 a.m.

Derrel Bosley knows the exact place and moment where his need to build a classic ’32 Ford roadster came into focus.

“We were at a Greybeard’s car show in Golden, Colo., with my brothers Roger and Sonny,” he recalls. They were looking at a famous So/Cal roadster owned by Mike DeVriendt, a Colorado car collector/dealer.

“Mike said, `Would you like to take a ride?’ And I said, `Sure.’ I should have never done that,” Bosley said. He was instantly hooked on the idea of creating his own old-school, open-topped hot rod.

But finding an original, steel-bodied 1932 Ford roadster these days is a little like looking for one of the fabled lost silver mines of the Old West. Fortunately, there is a solution to that dilemma: reproduction sheet metal is available from several manufacturers to recreate the iconic ’32 Ford hot rod body.

“I’ve been into body work all my life. I retired from Rusty Eck Ford’s body shop,” said Bosley. So tackling such a project was not all that daunting for him.

But the project began with building a proper chassis, and what better frame than a custom ’32 Ford unit offered by none other than the So/Cal Speed Shop? Bosley bought the basic frame in 2000 and began piecing together the parts needed to make a safe, street-worthy hot rod.

A Super Bell straight axle with a 4-inch drop was used as the basis for the front suspension. Bosley painstakingly ground away any rough edges and smoothed the axle with a sander before having a buddy drill it full of holes to lighten the assembly. Then it was off to the chrome shop for some shine.

The axle mounts a set of 1940 Ford-style spindles, with Wilwood disc brakes added for extra safety. They are set off by old-school Buick-style finned covers. The axle is held firmly in place by chromed radius rods and steering is handled by a Vega steering box.

At the rear of the car, a Currie 9” positraction differential and axles are used, with a set of 3.70 gears putting power to 16-inch red steel wheels mounting nice, tall P245x75R16 Bridgestone Dueler radials. Firestone 145R15s, also mounted on red steel wheels, make up the front rolling stock. But the focus soon shifted to the body.

“We decided to buy the body right away because we knew they would only go up in price,” said Madalyn Rowson-Bosley, Bosley’s bride of 44 years and an enthusiastic supporter of the project.

“It’s a Brookville body,” said Derrel Bosley. “You can’t tell the difference between the original Ford panels and them,” he said. “Every weld, every rivet is the same.”

With the help of his brothers, he painstakingly assembled the body and fitted it to the chassis. It was no simple task.

“I played around with (aligning) the hood and stuff for like three weeks,” he said. Then there was the matter of what that hood would cover.

Bosley used a 350 cubic inch V-8 sourced from a ’72 Chevy pickup. He had it bored out to 355 cubic inches, with the rotating assembly balanced and blueprinted by Jerry Wilson. The engine received performance boosts from an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and 4-barrel carb, along with an upgraded camshaft to provide more torque. A Pertronix ignition fires the air/fuel mix, while Sanderson coated headers send the exhaust gasses back through a set of Magnaflow Mufflers.

“We built our own exhaust system … out of mandrel bent tubing. My brothers helped me put it together. I am really proud of that,” Bosley said.

“I knew it had to have a manual transmission in it. All the other guys had automatics. I decided to put a 5-speed in mine,” he said. An ’88 Camaro provided the transmission, which had to be fitted with an S-10 tailshaft to work with a salvage yard driveshaft. A Hurst Indy shifter was bolted in place for gear selection.

Other hot-rodders helped out with the project. Gene Weaver hooked Bosley up with a set of $50 Guide headlights for the roadster and Larry Ashley wired the car. Terry Scroggin sold Bosley the slick white Glide bench seat trimmed in red piping to replace the bucket seats originally planned for the project.

Wooden floor boards were used inside, while the owner fabricated his own sheet metal transmission tunnel. He used a Parr dash insert, filled with Classic Instruments gauges. A secret starter switch was also designed to fire up the engine, and Madalyn came up with the perfect cowl vent operating lever, a stainless steel handle from a skillet.

“It’s a lot of thinking that’s involved,” grinned Bosley.

Once he had smoothed all the body work himself, he handed the roadster over to Doug Murray, who shot it in multiple coats of BMW Cinnabar Red before Bosley bolted on the Vintiques 2-inch chopped windshield.

“It was 12 years, start to finish. I may put a roll bar in it. I don’t really feel that safe in it. It’s that quick. And I may build a top for it because it gets pretty hot going down the road in the summer time. But it rides real good,” the proud car owner said.

Clearly, it was a journey well worth the effort.

Reach Mike Berry at mberry@wichitaeagle.com.

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