The Joys of Building a Hot Rod…

Check out one man’s story about building a hot rod. His name is Will Davenport and he’s from Birmingham, Alabama. He’s building a killer Deuce roadster and he’s using Honest Charley parts to do it! Check out his adventures so far…we can’t wait to hear more about the buildup and see pictures of it!

“A couple of years ago I got a harebrained idea that I wanted to build a hotrod in the style of the 1950’s. This naturally leads to thinking of the ’32 roadster (unless you’re an American Graffiti fan, and then it’s a coupe), so I started buying magazines and “how-to” books to get an idea where to start. The heart of the ‘50s rod was a flathead engine, and I was fortunate in having a friend who gave me a ’52 flatty and transmission that had been in his father’s car. Mind you, they had sat in a barn since Vietnam, and I never would have thought you’d use a sledgehammer to disassemble an engine – the pistons were that frozen.

From that point, a road trip to Honest Charley’s in Chattanooga yielded a Pete & Jake’s ’32 frame, dropped front I-beam suspension, and a narrowed 9 inch rear. This next bit isn’t a marketing plug, but an honest statement – you will not find finer people on the planet to deal with than the guys at Honest Charley’s. Plus, if you go, it’s like the pilgrimage to Mecca for a car guy – parts, cars, car guys, and Corky Coker’s car collection. Anyway, when the suspension parts came in, I got the frame and 9 boxes on a pallet and thought “is that it”? It was, and I’m not kidding to say if you’ve got a set of socket wrenches, screwdrivers and a hammer, you can build a rolling ’32 chassis from Pete & Jake’s. Coker Tire supplied the ’40 style front wheels and rear Gennies, all wrapped in bias ply Firestone rubber. Running the big & little combo gave me a 5° rake – perfect for my plans.

I took the engine block to PSI in Fultondale, and if you’ve never been – GO. These are three retired guys who’ve been drag racing forever, and they have fun toys in that shop. Laying around were a built 409, 389 with 3 deuces, piles of small and big blocks, and more engine parts than you can shake a stick at. Plus lots of greasy old machining tools. Cool. And the guys are great just to hang out with. They’ve vatted the block, and fortunately everything was copacetic, so the boring and align honing have begun. They’re also replacing the ring gear on my flywheel, and polishing the holy grail of the engine – a ’50 Merc crank with a 4” stroke (yes, I’m building a stroker flatty). That part came from a great guy in California who’s built hotrods since the ‘50s. Once PSI is done, the block is coming home and I and the fellow who “donated” it will build the engine.

My thought is to get the frame and driveline buttoned up, and then head back to Chattanooga and drag home a Brookville Roadster steel body. I’ve already come up with a ’40 Ford column with the shifter, ’49 Merc gauges, bomber-style lap belts (I’m not using bomber seats – those look ridiculously uncomfortable), and a bunch of other small parts to make the car period-correct. The overall goal is to build a car that looks like what a guy would have done in his garage in 1952 – not a ratrod, just a cool old school hotrod. I’ve learned one thing about the dangers of hotrodding. Not long ago, I was standing in the barn with the ’56 Caddy on one side, and the ’29 Model A roadster on the other and thinking, ‘wonder how hard it would be to drop the Caddy engine in that thing….’” –-Will Davenport

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