- Offered from the Bill Akin Collection
- Featured in December 1979 issue of Hot Rod magazine
- Orange exterior with cream accents; tan Naugahyde interior
- Small-block Chevrolet V-8; GM four-speed manual transmission
- Build incorporates a Bell Auto Parts dropped front axle, 1957 Chevrolet-sourced rear end, Offenhauser valve covers, and an artfully sectioned grille
- Used by beloved cartoonist Tom Medley at 1982 Hot Rod Magazine Super Nationals
- Doors are adorned with Medley’s iconic ‘Stroker McGurk’ character
While this 1932 Ford Roadster custom recalls builds from hot-rodding’s golden age in the 1950s, it was in fact acquired by noted collector and Indy car-restorer Bill Akin in the 1970s. Or, perhaps more accurately, that's when Mr. Akin acquired its Ford body and frame—all that remained of what was apparently an earlier hot-rod build.
Though the car was channeled, a look not in style at the time, the previous modifications were retained and used as a starting point. Jim McPherson handled the bodywork, paint and was instrumental in all aspects of the car’s construction. For power, Mr. Akin selected a Chevrolet small-block V-8 (dressed up with Offenhauser valve covers and chromed parts, including the intake); it is mated to a General Motors four-speed manual transmission. A 1957 Chevrolet-sourced rear end rounds out the driveline. The front end consists largely of early Ford parts, with a rare Bell Auto Parts dropped front axle as the focal point.
The build came together very nicely—so nicely, in fact, that the car was featured in the 1979 issue of Hot Rod magazine. Knowing that the Roadster was going to be famed cartoonist and writer Tom Medley’s ride around the 1982 Hot Rod Magazine Super Nationals in Berea, Ohio, Mr. Akin had a local automotive artist paint Medley’s iconic “Stroker McGurk” character and the magazine’s logo on the doors. Remarkably, these graphics remain in place today.
In anticipation of the 65th anniversary of Hot Rod in 2013, editor Thom Taylor flew to Mr. Akin’s Nashville, Tennessee home and drove the car to Los Angeles, California. The car was to be included in the magazine’s special display at the Grand National Roadster Show held in Pomona. Taylor’s 2,000-mile cross-country trip in frigid January weather had moments of slippery roads, ice, and oil-covered windshields, plus some side detours to inspect vintage tin and local interest.
His adventure in a topless car sans heater is documented in an entertaining YouTube video and was the subject of a feature article in the magazine. At the show, 93-year-old Tom Medley was there to reunite with the car 30-plus years later.
Today, the car’s orange exterior is nicely patinated; it is paired with a tan Naugahyde interior. The cream wheel color carries over to the front radius rods, rear axle, and the dashboard; subtle pinstriping adorns the grille and trunk.
A well-executed interpretation of the classic Ford Roadster hot-rod formula, this car is made all the more desirable by its interesting past.