Hot Rods You Should Know: 1932 Ford McMullen Roadster

Tom McMullen’s 1932 Ford Roadster has become one of the most iconic Hot Rods of all time. Photos from www.mecum.com

The term Hot Rod is generally used as a catchall phrase that encompasses almost all customs, racecars and some stock production cars. Not at Rod Authority. For our definition of Hot Rod, we include any custom American Rod from post World War I through the the early 1960s before the musclecar era. As a weekly feature, we pick some of the greatest and most influential Hot Rods of all time. This week we present one of the most famous of all time, the 1932 Ford McMullen Roadster.

Tom McMullen, a passionate custom car builder, writer and publisher, first came to prominence due in large part to his Ford deuce roadster. The car appeared in several popular early TV series like “Life of Riley” and “Lassie.” 

In addition to the small screen, the roadster also appeared in practically every car magazine published at that time. McMullen continued to modify his daily driver, adding a GMC 4-71 supercharged 301 cubic inch small-block, a Halibrand quick-change rearend, a parachute for effect and a pressurized Moon fuel tank in the front.

McMullen's roadster was lowered and highlighted with performance accessories like a Halibrand quick-change rearend.

McMullen spray painted flames that “Big Daddy” Roth designed that catapulted the car’s success, landing it on several album and book covers after it’s appearance on the cover of Hot Rod magazine in 1963.

McMullen swapped to 327ci Chevy power, racing on the streets, at the drag strip and finally on the dry lake bed of El Mirage, where he set the A/Street Roadster record of 167 MPH in 1964.

McMullen sold the car to fund some other business ventures and was never able to buy the car back. Eventually it was bought by a collector and restored to a condition similar to the time that McMullen drove the roadster as a daily driver and weekend racer.

McMullen sold the car to pay for other business ventures and the roadster underwent years of modifications that left it unrecognizable. Recovered by a collector, it was completely dismantled and restored to its original appearance by famed builder Roy Brizio.

The McMullen Roadster earned third in class at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, reinforcing its status as the world’s most iconic Hot Rod. The roadster reportedly sold for $700,000 at Mecum’s 2012 Anaheim auction as covered by Hemmings.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
Read My Articles

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