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1932 FORD HIGHBOY ROADSTER—A HOT ROD TO THE MAX PART 2

HOT RODS HAVE technical sophistication that belies their home-built heritage. The ’32 Ford Highboy Roadster offered at Gooding & Company Auction, Pebble Beach, 2011, is a perfect example of this. Today in Part 2, we continue our review of its mods.

1932 Ford Highboy Roadster. This and images following from Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction, August 2011.

DeLong Camshaft. John DeLong was a wizard of high-performance camshafts who learned his craft from Ed Winfield, famous for his Ford Model T speed equipment and known as “The Father of Hot Rodding.” Based in San Jose, California, DeLong provided camshaft grinds for Joe Huffaker, Sr., whose racing teams dominated their classes in SCCA and IMSA events during the late 1950s through the 1980s.

The Highboy’s steering wheel is a 1939 Ford’s banjo design. The dashboard is from a 1934 Auburn, including its 120-mph speedometer.

Strombergs, Paired. The Stromberg 97 twin-barrel carburetor first appeared on the 85-hp flathead Ford V8 in 1934. And, of course, if one carburetor was good, then two of them would be twice as good. As noted by hotrod.com, “There were quite a few reasons for its popularity with hot rodders (not the least of which was the fact that 97s were plentiful and cheap).”

The Highboy’s dual Stromberg 97s are perched atop its S.Co.T. supercharger.

S.Co.T. Supercharger. This Roots-type supercharger (akin to those fitted to Bentleys and Bugattis) was a popular means of add-on forced induction back in the 1950s. It was produced in Italy by a company known variously as Italmeccanica, I.T. Superchargers, and S.Co.T., standing for Supercharger Company of Torino (Turin). The website crosleycars.com shows a selection of S.Co.T. applications, including a blown Ford V8 with its original flatheads. An abbreviated price list shows a Crosley S.Co.T. costing $245.75, likely back in the 1950s.

The Highboy retains nothing from a 1932 Ford not required for high performance.

Halibrand Quick-Change Rear End. Halibrand is still in business as a maker of racing wheels and rear end housings. As noted in Hemmings Motor News, March 2010, “The early Ford ‘banjo’ rear had three important features: freebie cheapness, simplicity, and light weight.”

However, it wasn’t up to the torque of hot rodded Ford V8s. Just after World War II, Ted Halibrand designed a replacement center section for this ubiquitous Ford component. Jim Donnelly wrote in Hemmings Motor News, “At the rear of the shaft were two hardened spur gears on spindles, one above the other…. Varying the size between these two gears changed the final drive ratio… It was a godsend for racers on both oval tracks and drag strips who had to compensate for changing bite.”

The 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster may have been home-built, but, like other hot rods, it didn’t lack for technical sophistication. It sold at Gooding & Company’s 2011 Pebble Beach Auction for $154,000, midway between the $125,000–$175,000 estimate. As they say in the trade, well sold, well bought. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019

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