The Ex­pa­tri­ate

Rodger Vagg’s ’32 Ford Coupe


I can’t help but laugh

when I hear some­one all up in arms when­ever vin­tage Amer­i­can tin gets sold and shipped over­seas, as I’m fairly cer­tain none of them were of­fered for sale with “for­eign buy­ers only” stip­u­la­tions. Granted, our orig­i­nal sur­plus is rapidly dwin­dling, but I’ve al­ways found it kind of flat­ter­ing when folks from abroad spread the gospel of hot rod­ding across Europe, Asia, and espe­cially Aus­tralia, where our do­mes­tics are not as for­eign as you might’ve imag­ined.

Aus­tralia’s hot rod her­itage dates back nearly as far as it does in the States—way back to the early ’50s when the South­ern Hot Rod Club was of­fi­cially formed and the cre­ation of lo­cal dragstrips and or­ga­nized events en­sued. But when it came to em­u­lat­ing that western style, the Aussies didn’t have to rely upon “im­ports” or cre­ate in­ter­pre­ta­tions out of their own do­mes­tics. Shortly af­ter Henry Ford brought his very first au­to­mo­bile to mar­ket in 1903, the same North Amer­i­can model Fords were shipped to and sold in Aus­tralia—but, by 1925, Ford es­tab­lished its first of many assem­bly plants to han­dle the in­creased vol­ume of do­mes­ticim­ports (un­like GM-Holden, which were more amal­ga­ma­tions of var­i­ous man­u­fac­ture). Not only could the Aus­tralians buy the all-new ’32 Ford V-8 that same year (al­beit later in the third quar­ter), they had those same road­sters and coupes to turn into hot rods not too long af­ter. Of course the num­ber of units al­lot­ted for for­eign sales was sub­stan­tially less than the U.S. mar­ket’s share, so suf­fice it to say, their sur­plus has pretty much all but dried up in com­par­i­son. With that said, de­spite Aus­tralia’s rig­or­ous ve­hi­cle safety laws that di­rectly ap­ply to hot rods old and new (spe­cial con­struc­tion), the scene Down Un­der is still thriv­ing.

Again, just as it is here in the good ol’ USofA, while cer­tain folks just have to have the real-deal Fo­MoCo steel, Aus­tralians are no strangers to the af­ter­mar­ket al­ter­na­tive. And that’s just what life­long Gold Coast hot rodder Rodger Vagg opted to do when he fi­nally de­cided to ful­fill a dream of owning a Deuce five-win­dow in 2015 … and not leave any whiny Yanks up in arms in the process! But get this: In June Rodger made the first call to Dion Will­cox at The Kus­tom Shop in Bris­bane to get the ball rolling—the fol­low­ing June of 2016, the wheels of Rodger’s coupe were do­ing the rolling … com­pleted; it was pho­tographed here in the U.S. shortly there­after. That’s right, the coupe was sent back to the mother­land (the chas­sis calls Cal­houn, Georgia, home) and taken to the na­tional events in Colum­bus and Louisville.

Georgia is not only where Rodger’s chas­sis was put to­gether, it’s where the right­hand-drive con­ver­sion took place. Chad Adams (Adams Hot Rod Shop) has some ex­pe­ri­ence with wrong-side driv­ers, which made the process of con­struct­ing the Amer­i­can Stamp­ing–based plat­form just as easy as it would be for a stan­dard lefty

(a re­versed Mullins Vega box and mir­rored fram­erail brack­etry are es­sen­tially all it needs). Adams uti­lized SO-CAL Speed Shop’s dropped axle and hair­pins up front, but in the rear he used a tri­an­gu­lated four-link with Al­dan coilovers to lo­cate and sus­pend the 9-inch. Each of the axle ter­mi­na­tion points are fit­ted with Wil­wood brakes—the fronts con­cealed by nar­row E-T Drag­mas­ters with wider yet con­trast­ing E-T Fuel­ers out back. Power comes from the tried-and-true Chevy 350 combo.

Once Adams had fin­ished his part, the roller chas­sis was carted up and put on the next ship to Aus­tralia. This was in De­cem­ber, which left The Kus­tom Shop just shy of six months to paint, as­sem­ble, and com­pletely fin­ish Rodger’s coupe. Hav­ing al­ready re­ceived the five-win­dow via United Pa­cific, all the ini­tial work to it had been done, but Dion and crew still had quite a lot to do in or­der to meet the June dead­line just around the cor­ner, as this was a full-fend­ered build not a high­boy. But fin­ish it they did, and beau­ti­fully so with gor­geous cus­tom-mixed Ax­alta green­ish-gray laid down as the coupe’s lit­eral fin­ish and a brown dis­tressed leather in­te­rior done lo­cally by An­nvid Auto Uphol­ster­ers.

De­spite Ford Aus­tralia ceas­ing pro­duc­tion al­to­gether back in 2016, the res­ur­rec­tion of early Fords—both for­eign and do­mes­tic—is any­thing but dead in the land Down Un­der (sorry to my Aus­tralian friends and read­ers for us­ing that term—again—I know how cher­ished it is!).

For the dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence:


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