Photography – Andrew Langley
Hot rod fans have heard it all before. Built not bought, rich guys versus working stiffs, blue collar versus white collar. It’s an age-old beef that comes in many different guises, but like Donald Trump’s sex romps in the 2000s, its a distraction masking the real issue we face as early Ford fans.
The hot rod hobby is on the precipice of extinction. You know it and I know it.
One look at the latest GNRS or the Sacramento Autorama and the demographics don’t lie, the hobby is graying and many stalwarts are long-in-the-tooth. Seems like the folks mainly benefitting from this state-of-affairs are motorized scooter manufacturers, orthopedic shoes makers, and beige cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirts purveyors (with Corvettes instead of hibiscuses).
The new generation of car guys coming up never knew ’32 Fords as everyday workhorses, much less Hemi ‘Cudas or ’65 Mustangs. They have no affiliation with them other than books and car shows. How–and if–the torch is passed to a new generation, will be paramount to the continued existence of the scene. Yet, how do you grab young people’s attention and prime them to be the next bearers of all things cool?
We think the car pictured before you today is the antidote to this conundrum. Andres Gutierrez re-creation ’32 Ford Roadster is a rolling code buster–i.e. a beautifully executed, new hot rod built mostly with his own hands.
Not only does the car keep guys like Roy Brizio, Brookville and a myriad of small cottage industries in business, it’s also rolling proof that rods can be relevant to a younger crowd, a new generation that never lived or bought the cars in their heyday.
The robust aftermarket industry is a key element of this solution. All the detractors out there can”put a cork in it” as well… We can hear it now, “Well, if all you have to do is buy new parts, anyone can do that…”
Not so fast.
Being creative in an arena where nothing’s new under the sun isn’t easy. Besides, with few exceptions, most original early Fords are accounted for. The days of junkyards full of cheap old cars and parts are gone forever. Sure you could find an old roadster body or a complete car, but the work required to cure the tin worm or repairs of the past is time-consuming and costly.
Andres’ car ain’t a rat rod either, but piecing together a collection of junkyard cast-offs married to a lone wolf, “Social Distortion” ethos, is a viable path as well. So as the smoke clears, younger guys building cars, in any manner, is the life blood and the way forward for a new era of hot rodding.
And that brings us back to Andres’ little roadster.
When we saw the car at this year’s Sacramento Autorama, we could almost hear angels singing…
Murderously decked out, yet crisp and new, this roadster is eminently usable for weekend cruises, car shows, or the drag strip. No $500k budget, no bloated crew to bring it to fruition. Just a simple little buggy with a swole Chevy V8, black primer and Vintage kidney bean wheels that a young husband and father could put together in his garage and not go broke.
The first thing that struck us when we met Andres is he’s the epitome of Nor-Cal cool. There is such a thing, and I hate to break it to So-Cal folks, but the Bay Area and the State Capitol might be the alpha male when it comes to rods and customs. Nor-Cal is the bellwether of custom car culture and we’re always interested in what our hot rod brothers and sisters are up to, up north.
With an easy demeanor and down-to-earth manner, Andres was very proud of the car and he sat down with Rod Authority to tell us the story of how it came to be.
A union pipe-fitter and plumber by trade, he’s married with a son and a daughter and lives in Sacramento, California. He got bitten by the car bug–like the rest of us–when he was a kid. Starting out with Sixties muscle cars, the early Ford fever came a bit later. Andres says “I like the history of the automobile, and it was a natural progression.
I’ve owned two ’63 Novas and a Chevy C10 truck and when I traced back the evolution of the hot rod, I really fell hard for old Fords.” The fever culminated in 2014 when his dream of an old Ford roadster went from rattling around in his head to actually taking shape.
Andres recounts the genesis of the project. “I was looking at complete aftermarket chassis from a couple of suppliers, when I called my cousin Brian Basquez (a Brizio ’32 car owner) and he said, ‘Roy Brizio is in your back yard, let’s get an appointment and go see him.’ We called Brizio Sales and Parts Manager Dave Cattalini and scheduled a meeting, and it was there that I essentially hand picked most every detail of the car.
Brizio was very helpful in educating me on foreseeing and anticipating the finished build–at the beginning–which really helped later in the project. I wanted to pinch and C-notch the frame, extend the wheel base two inches, and go with a bobbed look in the rear, so it was things like that where Dave and Roy’s experience really eased the process of the build.”
Andres explains further “Brizio supplies raw, unpainted chassis and suspension components as standard equipment, so customers can custom tailor finishes. Yet on my car with my hardware choices, we ended up with a combination of standard bits and custom pieces like by Alan Johnson radius rods, Winters quick change rear end, and So-Cal finned covers for the discs up front and the drums in the rear…”
With all the details firmed up, it took Brizio six months to build the chassis. Andres explains, “He mounted the wheels that I supplied, 16s up front and 18s in the rear, and fitted the body as well.
Andres went with a Brookville roadster body, minus the fenders, hood and engine cover. Remember the chassis was stretched two inches so the peripheral body panels wouldn’t fit anyway. The beauty of the new body, other than some final massaging of the sheet metal, is it’s rust free, straight and stout, with many years of use in store. He topped it off with a used, chopped windscreen, and no door glass or wipers.
All in all, it took nine months from inception to a rolling frame with suspension and body assembled as a unit. Andres then picked up the car and took it home. Andres says Brizio liked the idea of a young guy building a rod and wanted to be part of it, so much so that he offered to finish the car and let Andres make payments. Although tempting, Andres wanted to keep costs in check and complete the car himself.
The first thing Andres did when he got the roadster home, was test fit all of the components and when everything checked out a-okay, the car was stripped down and sent to painters, powder coaters, and chrome guys.
While Brizio was building the frame, Andres was assembling the engine at home. He installed a 425 hp 383 stroker Chevy, running a trio of Stromberg “Big 97’s” backed up with a Tremec five-speed. The mill was purchased as a short block from PM Machine shop in Portland, Oregon and shipped to Sacramento as Andres wanted to emcee the build. He originally had a Rochester intake setup in the garage, but when he installed the unit, it leaked and gave him trouble, so he switched over to the Strombergs.
It took two years to complete the car, and Andres debuted it at the 2017 Sacramento Autorama. Since then he says ” I drove it to Hot August Nights in Reno, and my wife and I have date nights in the car and go to a pub or diner. I’ve put roughly a thousand miles on the car since completion.”
We all know that this is a re-creation of a Ford built 86 years ago. How does the state of California classify this car? Andres said “It’s smog exempt, and there was a lot of legwork with the CHP, the California DMV, and Smog Referee (a mediation entity that looks at cars on a case-by-case basis). The car is now street legal and titled as a “2017 Special Construction.”
Andres says the build is far from over. “I might get it painted at some point and take it to the next level. But for now I’m just enjoying the car.”
Andres speaks highly of Roy Brizio and Dave Catallini. “Roy took me through his personal collection and you know, he’s a legend in the hot rod community, but you’d never know it. He and Dave we’re down to earth and super nice guys. I’d call and say, I’m lookin’ for a radiator, and they’d just send me one. I’d write them a check later, but that’s the kind of guys they are. I really enjoyed working with them…” Andres Gutierrez
There’s an old saying “These are the good old days…”
When Andres’ kids look back on cruises with Dad in the “old” hot rod, the circle of car culture renews and expands again. Thanks to Andres, the Brizio folks, and all the parts companies that serve the hobby, as well as all the dads, uncles, cousins, and wives who’s toil brings it all together.
Feels like a springtime for hot rodding might be just around the corner…