For many generations, hot rodding was seen as something for our elders; the guys and gals that grew up in a time when ‘32 roadsters, ‘46 coupes and even ‘55 Tri Fives were not “classics” but brand new vehicles. But that’s changing these days as younger and younger generations embrace the hot rod culture of their parents and grandparents, and strive to experience the true purity of being a gearhead.
There’s no better representation of this than at the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association events. It’s at these events held across the country that you’ll find a growing mix of younger and older generations determined to enjoy the common thread, which strings from the simplicity of classic T-buckets to the squared fenders of American muscle cars.
Goodguys and that thread of passion is what got us in touch with Donny Freise, a 32-year-old rodder from Illinois who, along with his wife Angela, own this classic roadster. Gorgeous already, Freise’s ‘32 Ford roadster is still a work in progress and is undoubtedly a labor of love.
“I love it,” Freise told us in an email conversation when we asked what motivates him to build. “It’s my job and my hobby. I don’t do anything else.” Freise currently works at Frame-Up Wheel Works in Waukegan, Illinois where he’s been since 1999 after graduating from Wyotech. If Frame-Up sounds familiar, that’s because the black ‘32 Ford Tudor sedan owned by Kurt Jensen that we featured just awhile back was built there.
Freise’s hot rod has seen a different path than Jensen’s, however. What started out as a half finished project bought to drive around while Freise was working on another car quickly became the favorite in the garage.
“I started autocrossing the car and lost interest in the other project and began spending all of my time making the [roadster] faster and easier to drive,” Freise said. “This was just supposed to be a get around car and the more we drove the more we liked it. We started changing parts and the car just kept getting better and better. Every time the car got faster it also rode better and became more comfortable.”
After being a Goodguys Hot Rod of the Year finalist in 2010, Freise decided to tear down the roadster to it’s frame and start fresh.
“There were just things I wanted to fix so I did.” said Freise. “Everyone thinks I am crazy for taking apart a perfectly good car but I wasn’t quitting til it was the way I wanted it. I have learned so much from this car and met so many great people along the way, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”
After much work, the Ford is now a whole new beast, starting with the extensively modified frame. Under the hood you’ll find a 5.3L engine from a 2010 Chevy Silverado, topped off with a Mast Motorsports wiring harness and camshaft, LS2 intake and an LS3 throttle body. A custom Frame-Up exhaust system with Hooker headers carries the song of the 425hp engine to the rear of the roadster while a Keisler RS 500 transmission channels the engine’s power to the rear wheels.
Of course to maintain the autocrossing essence of the hot rod, a proper suspension system was in order. So Freise equipped the car with forged axels from So-Cal Speed Shop, which he bent for 1.6 degrees of negative camber, dual leaf springs from Posies Rods and Customs, modified hairpins and antiroll bar from So-Cal with custom mounts, double adjustable shocks from RideTech, a custom fabricated tie rod and drag link, and a 600 Series steering box from Detroit Speed Engineering in the front. For the rear, Freise went with a custom fabricated 3-link with DSE swivel links, triple adjustable coil-overs from Ridetech, and a splined sway bar with custom endlinks and mounts. The suspension is topped off with a True-Track Ford 9-inch rearend with 3.70 gears.Stopping power for the modified roadster now comes compliments of Wilwood 12-inch rotors in the front and 13-inch rotors in the rear with 6-piston calipers on all four corners. Freise’s Ford also boasts the first GMR floating hub kit to hit the market in the rear. Without proper wheels and tires, brake and horsepower upgrades don’t mean anything, so Freise set his ride up with a set American Racing wheels with 17×8-inch hoops in the front and 20×10-inch hoops in the rear. These performance wheels are wrapped in new BF Goodrich KDW rubber for optimal handling and grip.
It also compliments the interior done by Schobers Trim and Upholstery, which features gauges from Classic Instrument, glide seats and a generous iPod compatible sound system complete with a JL amp, Kicker 8-inch subwoofer and Hertz components.
So what more could Freise want? Well, he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve to get his hot rod just right.
“I still have things to do,” Freise told us. “I need to modify the seat so it will hold you in place better than a plain old bench seat can and finish the rest of the upholstery. I have a different hood for it that needs to fit up and [be] painted…..actually after 26,000 miles without out fenders and wide sticky tires the whole car needs a paint freshening up.”
A true rodder is never fully satisfied with his car, even after seven Goodguys autocross wins, and Freise is definitely a rodder at heart. He may not be a baby boomer, but he certainly has the itch and talent for it and we can’t wait to see where he takes the roadster from here.