In case that sounds pretentious, I have to admit that it is actually inadvertent art – the hot sun on the shining surfaces of this bare-metal rod made for such glare that the only way I could rescue the files was to convert them to monochrome. The car had a little colour, but not too much more, and the black and white rendering serves to show the raw power.
Before I launch out on it, I have to say that I do not disrespect plastic bodies for cars. I remember the Studebaker Avanti, a number of racing cars, and the Lightburn Zeta. They were glorious. And a number of glass-fibre bodies are made for cars from the hot rod era – indeed sometimes it seems that every second ’32 or “T” is a glass-fibre shell over some sort of steel tube-and-strap reinforcing cage. I’ve stopped looking into the unfinished ones for fear of what I might see.
All that said, I do love to see a steel body. I never lean over then and bonk them with my knuckles – I respect the rights of the builder too much for that – but I like the feeling that I could do so without cracking the surface gel. And they sound better.
If they are subject to rust, well that is an honest chemical reaction after all. It can be dealt with – after all, what do you think they invented lead and Stanley files for? It beats ugly little cracks and bits flapping as you drive. And they can be left, as STEEL 32 has been, uncoloured and just protected with a clear finish. You get a sense of authenticity that can sometimes be missing in a completely finished car.
I’d also like to record my agreement with the builder’s decision to leave the fenders and the bumpers out there fending and bumping. It means that it is a real car that deals with real travel on the road – not just a decorated cake on a trailer.
As for the shiftless part of the title…well that is a bit of an exaggeration – every car has some sort of shifter in there somewhere and if you look at the steering column of STEEL 32 you’ll see the column lever and indicator on top. It is a far more elegant decision than some of the giant floor sticks with skulls on the top. The choice contributes a great deal to the clean minimalist tub interior and it is a pleasure to see that it has not been overstuffed with stereos, air conditioners, and kewpie-doll dispensers.
PS: The engine is the famous Ford Hemi – named after Henry Ford’s half-son…Only a few of the 1932 model had it at the time. Pleased to see that they found one in good condition…