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: https://bit.ly/2GgTUp6
AUSTRALIA’S HOT ROD HERITAGE DATES BACK NEARLY AS FAR AS IT DOES IN THE STATES—WAY BACK TO THE EARLY ’50S.