There's no shortage of fortuitous incidents that provide incentive for classic car owners to conduct massive overhauls of their beloved four-wheeled machines. In Kurt Jensen's case, all it took was a flat tire.
Jensen has owned his black-on-black 1932 Ford Tudor since 1981 and initially conducted a four-year build to transform the former basket case into a reliable driver. But then, in 2009, while on the Indiana tollway cruising to an event in Kalamazoo, Mich., a minor motoring mishap occurred that evolved into huge changes.
"I picked up a piece of steel that went right through the right rear tire, punctured it and even entered the rear fender," the Johnsburg resident said. "That became the start of where the car went through a total restoration."
This second time round Jensen took his Ford to Frame Up Wheel Works in Waukegan for a complete strip -- all the way down to the bare frame. Even that wasn't saved as a completely new chassis from TCI was utilized as a fresh foundation.
Jensen opted to retain the same powertrain, a 355-cubic-inch Chevy V-8, good for 370 horsepower and 360 foot-pounds of torque, although new wiring now helps keep the electrons flowing smoothly. An Edlebrock dual quad intake helps it inhale while a custom stainless steel exhaust with a trick x-pipe exhales the spent carbons.
A 200R4 transmission is mated to the powerhouse and gets those galloping ponies to the asphalt.
The crew at Nostalgic Auto Body in Island Lake straightened the aging bodywork and applied the jet black paint on the street rod, which still retained much of its original sheet metal. During the car's first rebuild in the '80s, 2½ inches was chopped off to lower the roof.
For the modern rebuild, Jeff Ludwig of Sturtevant, Wis., added a smooth roof insert from Waldon's Speed Shop in Pomona Calif., replacing the former ribbed unit. A new firewall and floor pans were added, along with minitub wheel wells, which make room for much larger tires. Those Michelin tires hide front Wilwood disc brakes with Ford drums in the rear.
Jensen decided the interior was also ready for a big transformation. He took it to Dean's Upholstery in Racine, Wis. There it received a complete facelift with the addition of a Glide Engineering front seat covered in black ultra leather, matching the rest of the cabin.
Cruising is made more pleasant with the addition of heat and air conditioning. Everything was wrapped up this spring for the '32 Ford's grand debut at the 2012 World of Wheels car show in Rosemont.
"The vehicle is totally different since the rebuild," Jensen said. "The handling, ride and braking have all been significantly improved and are better than anticipated."
Jensen has really nailed his desire to re-express the look of his eye-catching ride. As a member of the North Shore Rods car club since 1977, he can be found at many of our local cruise nights, happily displaying his radical Tudor.
"I've always thought that the 1932 Ford was the quintessential hot rod," he said. "After the first restoration, it was a lot of fun to drive, but even more so now. It's a much better car overall."