Take a Ride In Bobby Alloway’s ’32 “Shades of The Past” Roadster

Most hot rod aficionados would agree that no other car has formed the basis for as many rodding projects than has the ’32 Ford. That was a year of transition for Ford Motor Company, as Henry Ford grudgingly acknowledged that the Model A’s time had passed, even if the values embodied in it had grown stronger than ever.

Simple, reliable, affordable and easy to repair remained key goals for the ’32 Ford Model B, regardless of its style, and there were plenty to choose from. Among the hot rodder’s favorites, the Tudor Sedan, the five-window Standard Coupe, the Fordor Sedan and the three-window Deluxe Coupe with its rear hinged “suicide” doors were also the most popular in their day.

Plentiful and inexpensive, there would only be one year of production for the car. Significantly redesigned for 1933, the ’32 Ford became a unique and individual phenomenon. However, another Ford phenomenon appeared later that same year.

Sold by Ford as the Model 18, it was the same Model B, but with the new Ford Flathead V8 engine instead of the standard four cylinder power. There may have been no other event more pivotal to enabling the hot rod movement of the forties than this.

According to some sources, there are more state-registered ’32 Fords today than there were when the cars were new. That popularity has been in place even as we approach the car’s 80th anniversary. Now, all this is not to say that every ’32 Ford around accurately reflects it’s condition when it left the factory.

Ease of modification was the essence of the car’s popularity in the Forties and many have taken enormous freedoms with their personal interpretation of the iconic car. Even without extensive customization, many enthusiasts of the Model B swear that it is one of Ford’s finest productions, bar none.

In fact, every car builder of note must certainly have at least one, if not several ’32 Fords listed in their resume. Whether we are talking about Chip Foose, Boyd Coddington, Troy Trepannier, Darryl Starbird or many, many others, building a ’32 Ford is likely considered a rite of passage. Most of these builders move on to different projects, based on different cars for the challenge, or because their customers demand it.

One hot rod builder of note though, seldom strays far from the most classic of all hot rods. While we’re tempted to draw a twisted parallel to the scenario in Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” nothing about Bobby Alloway could be further from that particular story, except perhaps that he could build a rod just like ringing a bell.

If you’re not familiar with Alloway’s home town of Louisville, TN, it lies about a half hour south west of Knoxville, likely the state’s most cosmopolitan city. Alloway made his name some time back, grabbing a Ridler Award at the 1985 Detroit Autorama, for a ’33 Ford Victoria Altered Street Sedan, and these days limits his projects to the annual “Shades of the Past” hot rod round up, this year in nearby Pigeon Forge, TN. In fact, first prize for this year’s competitors is an Alloway-built ’32 Ford roadster.

Formerly a manager at the Ford dealership in Knoxville, Alloway turned his passion for hot rods into a full time line of work after an ownership change prompted the best decision he ever made.

“I’ve been building cars for over 30 years and it’s all I know! I just like cars and our business has just grown and grown over the years. Some of us like me are just lucky to have taken a hobby and turned it into a successful business,” Alloway once explained in an interview.

Alloway’s customers come from all over the country, often driven from having seen his work up close and personal. Some say when they saw a Bobby Alloway hot rod, they simply couldn’t take their eyes off it. Early experiences in Alloway’s like formed his relentless drive for perfection. One had to do with a Chevy Nomad that he’d cleaned up and put on the road for himself. He never enjoyed the car, saying he was always thinking about the things he knew were wrong with it. Soon, he sold the car and moved on. From that point in his life, shortcuts became a thing of the past.

We recently found this outstanding example of Alloway’s work not far from our own offices on the West Coast. Among Rocky Nash’s collection of cars, this mint green roadster stands out like a Emperor rose in a patch of sagebrush.

Built, as you might expect, for a previous “Shades of the Past” event, this ’32 Ford offers a close up view of what unrelenting quality and experience will lead to.

Powered by a 350cui GMPP crate motor, this Ford gets all the motivation it needs from the 300hp V8, which is bolted to a B&M TH350 Street/Strip automatic transmission. Delivered with a slightly higher stall speed converter, the tranny can easily tolerate a stronger camshaft without it pulling on the brakes continually.

Feeding back to an aluminum Currie rear end, power is ultimately diverted to a set of Dayton wire wheels, which themselves deliver a classic look that draws onlookers.

Looking through the list of components used for this rod, it become self-evident that nothing but the best was even close to good enough. With 90 years of experience manufacturing wire wheels, Dayton are one of the few remaining suppliers of wire wheels and the only one that offers a maintenance free wheel – one that never needs truing. Surely, this rod was built with trouble-free cruising in mind.

Another indicator is found in the Super Bell front axle, cast from high strength ductile iron for maximum durability, as well as the highly regarded Wilwood brakes on all four corners. Topping the cowl, you’ll find another example of Alloway’s commitment to quality.

The Duvall windshield frame is a split panel frame cast from solid brass and suitable for polishing, plating or painting. You’ll have no concern about the sturdiness of this piece, whether you’re cruising or racing.

When it came to interior appointments, Alloway didn’t have to turn far to find Steve Holcomb and his Pro Auto Interiors shop in Knoxville. Though the office space in a ’32 roadster is far from generous, it still needs to be done right. In this case, Holcomb chose a Hunter Green leather for the bench seat and door panels.

That and the dark green carpeting provide an amiable contrast to the unusual mint green exterior. Holcomb, through his Pro Auto Interiors shop, is well known for providing high end, award winning, custom interiors often featured in national magazines and invitation-only shows.

A unique addition to the interior is Classic Instruments‘ All American Package – a complete, self-contained instrument panel featuring unique LED internal lighting for when the sun goes down on those late cruises. Refinished to match the rod’s color scheme, the panel provides a 140MPH speedometer, fuel gauge, volts, temperature and oil pressure gauge, along with a complete wiring harness to make things easier. Matching the instrument face to the graphics of the car are a sure sign of a builder for whom no detail is too small.

In the world of hot rodding, there is little fear of seeing that someone elses’ car is similar to your own. Given the relatively limited output from Bobby Alloway and the range of components and accessories he has to choose from, the collectivity of this hot rod is certain. As part of Mr. Nash’s collection, we’re sure to see this rod well looked after now and well into the future.

About the author

Don Roy

Don's background includes 14 years in the OEM and Tier2 domestic auto industry, as well as three years as Technical Editor of a muscle car enthusiast print magazine. He is a mechanical engineer by trade and completed his first project car when he was 16 years old - after rebuilding the engine in his bedroom. His hobbies include photography, film making and building the odd robot from time to time.
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