Nothing less than a legend: The 1932 Ford Roadster

If you were a real hot rodder in the years between 1940 and 1955, the chances were pretty big you wanted a 1932 Roadster. If you didn’t have one because you couldn’t afford it, that’s one thing. But if you didn’t own one because you didn’t want one, then there was obviously something wrong with you. Same goes for hot rodders today.

No matter what you’re calling it – a Deuce, High-Boy or simply ’32 – this car was and ever will be synonymous with hot rodding. The 1932 Ford is not only better looking that the previous Model A, it’s also a little larger and has the rear leaf spring mounted behind the rear axle instead of over it, which gives it a more comfortable ride. Its radiator shell and grille are so handsome they became an almost mandatory accessory on the front of Model As as well.

In the immediate post World War II years, hot rodded ’32 Fords were everywhere to be seen on the streets of Southern California. Driving around the LA area, you could easily spot somewhere between 20 and 30 every single day. They had all sorts of colors, but the obvious favorite was black with either a red or natural tan tuck and roll interior.

Pretty much all of them were equipped with small front tires, about 5.00-6.00 x 16 inches and larger rear tires, usually 6.50 or 7.00 x 16 inch. Wire wheels were still sometimes used, but more likely they had disc wheels from 1940-1942 Fords. Those wheels had 4.5 inch wide rims which made them ideal for the smaller front wheels. In the rear, most hot rodders would use the wider rims they got from Lincolns.

This practice of using later Ford wheels not only came from making the car look different but mostly from fitting hydraulic brakes that were usually taken off 1940-48 Fords. Even with the bolt patterns matching, the early wire wheels required spacers when used with hydraulic brake systems so most guys not only used the hydraulic brake systems but also the wheels.

As a result of all of this, the 1932 Ford with later brakes and wheels, smaller front and larger rear tires became kind of the standard at around 1945. It was almost as if Ford had made the cars that way on the assembly line already. Up to this day, this configuration just looks best on an early styled Hot Rod. And it will always remain this way.

Read more stories about the history of hot rodding.