Ronnie Staples’ flamed classic ’32 Ford has gone through a number of engine-transmission combos over the years, but it’s all sorted out now and ready for serious cruising thanks to a modern five-speed.
Ronnie Staples is a serious carguy with a very large garage filled with Pro Touring customs and hot rods that he drives as well as shows. His collecting mantra is simple: NO TRAILER QUEENS! Some are designed and engineered to “bring back the good old days”, while others feature state-of-the-art billet fabrication. All, except those still under construction, are plated, insured and road-ready.
One of his favorite hot rods is this flamed, chopped ’32 Ford five-window coupe powered by a stroked and supercharged Flathead. Its top was chopped three inches and the roof section filled. Originally built in the late-1990s by Ohio-based hot-rodder, Greg Steiner and it was powered by a 302-inch Ford with three two-barrel carbs backed up by a C4 automatic. One of Ronnie Staples’s friends purchased it at the Goodguys event in Charlotte, NC in 1998. He swapped the 302 Ford for a vintage Joe Smith Automotive Flathead with a ¾-race Potvin camshaft and a new B&M blower topped with three Holley 94 two-barrels on an adapter. Unfortunately, he retained the C4 automatic.
In 2002 Staples saw that the coupe was for sale and road tested it. “No power to say the least,” said Staples. “Two of the carbs were blocked off, so the blower was pushing air through two butterflies, less an one-inch-diameter each. He saw the potential and made the buy. And, he has never looked back!
One of the first decisions Staples made after purchasing it was to sort out the powertrain by modifying and machining the engine and mating it to a modern five-speed. Rod and custom craftsman Mike Griffin, at his shop in Sarasota, FL, executed the Chevy S10 five-speed transmission conversion, fabricated new engine mounts and worked on a number of detail body and paint modifications. While out of the car, Griffin epoxy and K36 primed, then painted the Flathead block and finned aluminum heads Torch Red.
What appears to be STAPLES finned aluminum heads on the vintage late-1940s Flathead are actually from Offenhauser. The Offy logo was milled off and replaced with composite letters that Staples had found on eBay! Engine displacement is 255 cubic inches thanks to a four-inch-stroke Mercury crank. Bore diameter is stock 3 3/16-inch. A pair of leaned-out Stromberg Super 97 carbs from Speedway Motors tops off the billet Roots positive-displacement supercharger, custom built for Staples by an old high school buddy in Virginia, Donnie “Duck” Townsen. “Duck is an artist with his CNC machinery and can make almost anything, including cutting my name into the lower sides of the custom blower housing,” said Staples.
The unique twin-V-belt blower is over-driven 100-percent (3-inch blower pulley, 6-inch crank pulley) and makes 6 ½-pounds boost. Staples estimates a 50 horsepower increase over stock. With a 3.55 Posi rear, cruising at 75 mph in 5th gear, the stroked Flathead is running at just 2,300 rpm. Acceleration is outstanding thanks to a very low First gear.
Since there’s not a lot of room in a chopped ’32 Ford coupe, the rear package shelf was removed and the seats relocated rearward. Tracks were removed from the seats and seats were bolted directly to the floor. JR’s Upholstery, Venice, FL, is responsible for the custom “very” red interior. The ’31 Cadillac dash bezel was salvaged from junkyard back when Greg Steiner was building the hot rod.
Sammy Long, with some help from Ronnie Staples, redid the chassis and suspension for increased suspension travel, improved ride and handling. The frame was C-notched to bring the car down approximately one-inch and the old crossmember was cut out and replaced with a tubular mounting for adjustable coil-over shocks. Dropped I-beam front axle, finned brakes, chrome tube shocks, and filled grille shell look as good today as they did in the 1950s!
Ronnie Staples is a member of the Sarasota Café Racers and these photos were taken at the group’s carguy events and lunches. For more information about the Sarasota Café Racers and its satellites here and abroad, please visit http://www.sarasotacaferacers.com/home.html