One More HAO WELA
Jimmy Pflueger’s Last Hot Rod
Pronounced “how vella,” hao wela is the Hawaiian word for hot rod; and contrary to what mainland hot rodders might imagine, drag racing hot rods in Hawaii has been as popular as anywhere in the U.S. since years before Hawaii was a state. It was shortly after World War II and Kahuku Point Army Air Base’s abandoned airstrip was the place to race. The Kolea Racing Team ran the first dragster constructed in Hawaii; the three-man team consisted of Buddy Hughes, Eddie Sorenson, and Jimmy Pflueger.
The Kahuku dragstrip closed down eventually, but in 1964 Jimmy Pflueger gathered a group of Honolulu doctors together and funded the construction of Hawaii Raceway Park. By now a self-made millionaire, Jimmy opened the very first Honda automobile dealership in the United States. The Honda N600 debuted in 1969 and Jimmy’s Pacific Honda sold America its very first Honda Civics. It was May of 1970 before Honda sold cars on the mainland in Washington, California, and Oregon through its motorcycle dealerships already up and running.
Roy Brizio Street Rods, of South San Francisco, built this ’32 Ford for Jimmy with the guidelines it was to be traditionally themed and in Jimmy’s favorite color: black. The build process started in bare metal and stayed in bare metal until the car was fully assembled with all the drivetrain, suspension, and body parts installed into place. The frame (Deuce ’rails) is a fully boxed Brizio
’32 Ford reproduction with a 106-inch wheelbase. As Jimmy specified, the ’32 is pure Ford from front to rear. The rearend is a Currie 9-inch Ford with 3.50 gears and limited slip and is located with chrome-plated Pete and Jakes ladder bars. The antiroll bar is from SO-CAL Speed Shop, and Panhard bar, Brizio’s. Having a better ride overruled a traditional buggy spring on the rear, so aft suspension is handled with QA1 coilover shocks.
The front suspension and steering is handled with a
fully chromed Super Bell dropped I-beam axle sprung with a Durant monoleaf spring damped with Pete and Jakes tubular shock absorbers. Steering is genuine Vega box plucked from Chevy Vega controlled with a Mullins steering column capped with a Mooneyes four-spoke steering wheel. The juice brakes are traditional in the sense that they are drum, but later design Ford police brakes are in the rear and big Lincoln drum brakes with chrome-plated backing plates up front. For pedals there’s a Pete and Jakes trap pushing a Wilwood master cylinder and proportioning valve. Polished stainless steel lines handle all of the car’s plumbing needs.
Bigs ’n’ littles, the front tires are 695x14 BFGoodrich Silvertown bias-ply and the rear 950x14 BFGoodrich Silvertown bias-ply tires mounted on 6-inch-wide
General Jumbo wheels.
Powered by Ford, the engine is a 302-inch Edelbrock crate motor with an Edelbrock hydraulic roller cam resting beneath an Edelbrock aluminum intake with a 650-cfm Edelbrock AFB carb accelerated by a Lokar spoon pedal. The cylinder heads are Edelbrock with porcelain-coated Sanderson headers exiting exhaust through 2-1/4-inch pipes into a pair of Stainless Specialties mufflers. The ignition is MSD with Taylor spark plug wires handling the secondary circuit. The 302 Ford puts out 300 hp at 4,000 rpm. The cooling system begins with an Edelbrock water pump pushing coolant through a Walker brass and copper radiator assisted with a SPAL fan.
In keeping with an all-Ford drivetrain, the Lokar-shifted automatic transmission is a C4 Cruise-O-Matic rebuilt and beefed by Hillsdale Transmission in San Mateo, California. The custom-made driveshaft was sourced from Drive Line Service of San Leandro, California.
The beauty of building a ’32 Ford from scratch is all the parts are available, and that includes a brand-new steel body. Brizio started with a Brookville Roadster body that arrives completely assembled with subframe, floorpans, cowl section, doors, and decklid. From there the cool stuff on Jimmy’s ’32 started; Brizio’s Andrik Albor sectioned and dropped a Rootlieb ’32 Ford hood 3/4 inch at the front and mounted a Brookville ’32 shell with a Dan Fink grille insert.
Albor metal-finished and finessed the gaps and then final fit and finishing took place in Hayward, California, at Compani Color where Joe Compani, Ryan Campi, and Travis Duffy took the ’32 all the way into House of Kolor Jet Black urethane.
Back at Brizio’s, Jimmy’s ’32 went directly to the final assembly area where parts that were sent out to Sherm’s Custom Plating for show-quality chrome were laid out awaiting installation. The headlights came from OTB Gear and the outside mirrors from Valley Auto Accessories. Nestled below a pair of ’39 Ford taillights resides a Tanks Inc. 14-1/2-gallon ’32 Ford stainless steel gas tank.
Before the interior work could be done the electrical
system needed completion. Jim Vickery started by mounting an Enos panel, and then installed Classic Instruments and connected the rest of the wiring. A Powermaster alternator handles charging. Next Dynamat thermal acoustic adhesive sound deadener was applied to the floor and surrounding areas. The 2-inch chopped DuVall windshield sports green tinted glass and a Vintique inside rearview mirror.
For upholstery Jimmy’s ’32 was transported to Sid Chavers Co. for a custom scratch-built seat, and then fine Bolivian Brown full-grade leather with corresponding German square-weave carpeting. Matched attention was paid to the trunk.
Jimmy Pflueger became a hot rodder at age 20 and was for over 70 years. On April 25, 2017, when STREET RODDER photographed Jimmy’s ’32 we asked why he built this car, and he answered: “I wanted one more hot rod.” On September 25, 2017, Jimmy Pflueger died, leaving his ’32 Ford roadster to the Petersen Automotive Museum.
For the digital experience visit: http://bit.ly/2ER8XVz