01 Eric Black did the renderings for the Gauntt coupe
Eric Black did the renderings for the Gauntt coupe.

By Ron Covell

Some of the most eye-catching vehicles at the recent Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) in Pomona were in competition for the Al Slonaker award—the contest for all vehicles not eligible for the headlining America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award. The winner was the Pat Gauntt 1932 Ford coupe built by Hollywood Hot Rods (HHR) under the direction of Troy Ladd; it took home the ARP custom trophy and the $15,000 check.

Gauntt had his eye on some of HHR’s past work, but since the car he wanted wasn’t for sale, he commissioned them to build a very special car for him. The concept of this car is rather unique—adapting European sports car elements to a thoroughly American hot rod.

Starting with a brand-new Brookville Roadster body, the roof was sectioned into carefully sized pieces
Starting with a brand-new Brookville Roadster body, the roof was sectioned into carefully sized pieces.

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This was a multi-year project, and Gauntt gave Ladd free reign to develop the concept to the ultimate extent of his vision. Ladd works closely with designer Eric Black, and they had hatched the concept for a car with this theme several years ago. He built a roadster with a related theme a few years ago, the “Brooklands Special,” and with the green light for the new project from Gauntt, they doubled down and found some creative ways to expand the vision, then quickly commenced with the construction.

Starting with a 1932 Ford 3-window coupe body from Brookville Roadster, the top was chopped 5-1/4 inches in front, 4-½ inches in the rear, and the windshield was laid back 18 degrees. The body was sectioned 1-¼ inches, and a ½-inch section was removed from the doors above the beltline, enlarging the window openings. Ladd decided to split the windshield and angle each pane into a “V” shape. Another unique touch was hinging the glass panes at the top so they can hinge open for ventilation! The roof was left unfilled, and a new insert was fabricated with a “V” shape to match the windshield.

Each of the roof panels will be radically modified and reshaped on the Ford Coupe
Each of the roof panels will be radically modified and reshaped on the Ford Coupe

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The wheel wells were raised to follow the curvature of the rear tires, the decklid was made smaller (another European touch), and the corners were radiused.

The firewall was completely reconfigured, matching the “V” windshield shape on the cowl top, and following the curve of the doors on the sides. The rear window was split too, and the lower edge positioned so it aligned with the door glass. A grille shell was scratch built from steel and angled to match the firewall. An aluminum rolled pan was formed to hug the rear of the body.

Some of the most demanding work went into the details. Ladd has adopted rules for the work he does, and one of the most important is that everything must be done for a purpose. Another rule is that every “wear point” needs to be protected, usually with a polished stainless trim piece. To continue the theme, all the trim pieces fit into recesses with a sculpted border, adding another finishing touch to the design. Components like the taillights adhere to this rule, too. Troy takes pride that his crew handcrafts every component—nothing is computer designed and CNC machined.

Here are the pieces being painstakingly fitted together for the 32 Ford Coupe
Here are the pieces being painstakingly fitted together for the 32 Ford Coupe

Visit: Above & Beyond a Simple Restoration: 1931 Ford Sedan

One of the most unique design elements on this car is the cowl exhaust, with a protective stainless trim piece that goes into the doors. There is just enough room in the kick panel area inside the car to house a remotely operated valve, which directs the exhaust to exit through the cowl, or it can be diverted through mufflers carefully fitted under the car. From a side view, you’ll see that the hood vents have a graceful curve that leads into the stainless trim around the exhaust tips.

This car abounds with carefully thought out and perfectly executed details, and you will see much more in the accompanying photos. Gauntt, along with Ladd and his crew, are delighted with the way this car turned out, and they feel like nothing was left “on the table” in terms of design. Apparently, the judges at the GNRS agreed since they bestowed the Al Slonaker award to this one-of-a-kind coupe. MR

The rear window was sized to match the door glass and was split into two panes following the windshield design.
The rear window was sized to match the door glass and was split into two panes following the windshield design.
A new, removable roof insert was fabricated. This is the receiver to be welded into the opening in the roof. Notice the raised bead around the edge, a theme repeated on all trim pieces.
A new, removable roof insert was fabricated. This is the receiver to be welded into the opening in the roof. Notice the raised bead around the edge, a theme repeated on all trim pieces.
Here the roof is nearly finished and the cowl is being peaked to match the “V” windshield.
Here the roof is nearly finished and the cowl is being peaked to match the “V” windshield.
A detail piece was added between the split windshield halves and accented with “speed holes.”
A detail piece was added between the split windshield halves and accented with “speed holes.”
The body was sectioned 1-¼ inches.
The body was sectioned 1-¼ inches.
The wheel wells were repositioned to match the curvature of the rear tires.
The wheel wells were repositioned to match the curvature of the rear tires.
The decklid was downsized and the corners are being radiused here.
The decklid was downsized and the corners are being radiused here.
Here is the new grille shell being fabricated from steel.
Here is the new grille shell being fabricated from steel.
After some welding, tweaking, and adjusting, the grille shell is looking great.
After some welding, tweaking, and adjusting, the grille shell is looking great.
The “spears” that continue the lines on the hood sides were formed as separate pieces then butt-welded into the grille shell.
The “spears” that continue the lines on the hood sides were formed as separate pieces then butt-welded into the grille shell.
At the rear of the body, a close-fitting roll pan was made from aluminum.
At the rear of the body, a close-fitting roll pan was made from aluminum.
The vent openings in the hood side are laid out with tape, along with the recesses in the cowl and doors for the exhaust.
The vent openings in the hood side are laid out with tape, along with the recesses in the cowl and doors for the exhaust.
The cowl exhaust tips are trial fitted into place.
The cowl exhaust tips are trial fitted into place.
The stainless trim pieces are positioned with Clecos.
The stainless trim pieces are positioned with Clecos.
Pockets are fitted into the cowl to house the exhaust tips, and the cutoff valve that can divert the exhaust gasses through mufflers under the car.
Pockets are fitted into the cowl to house the exhaust tips, and the cutoff valve that can divert the exhaust gasses through mufflers under the car.
Stainless pockets are fitted into the doors to protect them from the hot exhaust gasses.
Stainless pockets are fitted into the doors to protect them from the hot exhaust gasses.
Small turnouts supply the finishing touch for the cowl exhaust.
Small turnouts supply the finishing touch for the cowl exhaust.
The vent openings in the hood side are outlined by a bead in the metal.
The vent openings in the hood side are outlined by a bead in the metal.
Cross steering was fitted, and a cover for the Pitman arm was fabricated from stainless to follow the theme of the exhaust trim.
Cross steering was fitted, and a cover for the Pitman arm was fabricated from stainless to follow the theme of the exhaust trim.
Wire mesh adds just the right touch to fill the openings in the hood sides.
Wire mesh adds just the right touch to fill the openings in the hood sides.
The floor in this car is a work of art.
The floor in this car is a work of art.
Here the floor pieces are positioned with Clecos to test the fit.
Here the floor pieces are positioned with Clecos to test the fit.
A unique rail for the gear shift linkage is featured inside the cabin.
A unique rail for the gear shift linkage is featured inside the cabin.
The car features adjustable shock absorbers, controlled by hydraulic pressure. These are the fluid reservoirs, hand pumps, and gauges for the system.
The car features adjustable shock absorbers, controlled by hydraulic pressure. These are the fluid reservoirs, hand pumps, and gauges for the system.
Here is one of Eric Black’s final renderings of the 1932 Ford Highboy Coupe. We think you’ll agree it’s quite a piece of work.
Here is one of Eric Black’s final renderings of the 1932 Ford Highboy Coupe. We think you’ll agree it’s quite a piece of work.

Sources

e. Black Design Co
eblackdesign.com

Hollywood Hot Rods
(818) 842-6900
hollywoodhotrods.com

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