Blue Heaven

This '32 Ford Coupe Proves That Clas­sic is Al­ways Cool

Street Rodder - - Contents -

Gary McCormick’s ’32 Ford coupe

What does Gary McCormick mean when he says, “I like the do­ing”? He means that his fa­vorite part of this hobby is cre­at­ing a car. See­ing a new project come to­gether—from the day the raw ve­hi­cle shows up to the day the fin­ished street rod rolls into the sun­light—is just as much fun as driv­ing it on the street or show­ing it off at a fair­grounds.

We got our first look at Gary’s beau­ti­ful blue '32 Ford coupe at the NSRA Street Rod Na­tion­als in Louisville in 2013 where we picked it as a STREET ROD­DER Top 100 se­lec­tion (­ti­cles/1932-ford-3-win­dow-coupe). A few years be­fore at the same event, we se­lected Gary’s 351-pow­ered '49 Ford woodie for a Best Ford in a Ford award (­ti­cles/1008sr-1949-ford-woodie).

There was hardly a time when Gary was not into hot rods. He was old enough to start getting in­ter­ested in cars at a time when cars were es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing. The late ’50s and early ’60s were a golden era for rods and cus­toms and a re­mark­able pe­riod for fac­tory cars. He says that when he wasn’t watch­ing the lo­cal iron cruis­ing the streets of East St. Louis, Illi­nois, he was read­ing about them in his fa­vorite car mag­a­zines.

In the life­time since then Gary’s in­ter­est has grown—and so has the list of cars that he’s owned. That list in­cludes a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing from var­i­ous time pe­ri­ods. Gary likes them all, but the cars he loves the most are '32 Fords.

Gray’s Garage is lo­cated in Me­ta­mora, Illi­nois, and Gary has teamed up with Everett and Chuck Gray on many cars—in­clud­ing the Shoe­box woodie, but mostly Deuces—and had de­vel­oped a close re­la­tion­ship with the fa­ther-son builders and their shop. This time it was Chuck who con­tacted Gary. Chuck had found this three-win­dow coupe for sale at a lo­cal rod show. It was an al­ready-started project, but the owner had died and the car was be­ing sold by his fam­ily. The solid orig­i­nal body was in pieces and needed at­ten­tion. Once it was at Gray’s Garage, the body came off the chas­sis and was stripped to bare metal.

The plan for the full-fend­ered three-win­dow was to seam­lessly blend old and new el­e­ments. Most of the new parts are found in the driv­e­train. The rest of the car was fin­ished with an eye to­ward tra­di­tional style. Gary Hagel re­placed any re­main­ing orig­i­nal wood with steel cus­tom re­in­forc­ing. The top was left un­chopped and door han­dles and hinges were kept in place. A

25-lou­ver, four-piece hood from Rootlieb re­places the fac­tory piece. The stain­less steel grille in­sert was or­dered from Dan Fink Me­tal­works. Bob Drake Re­pro­duc­tions pro­vided the front and rear bumpers as well as the re­pro head­lights. The LED tail­lights are from John­son’s Hot

Rod Shop. A pair of vin­tage Cat Eye fog­lights makes a fan­tas­tic fin­ish­ing de­tail. Pre­ci­sion Plat­ing in Quincy, Illi­nois, gets credit for the beau­ti­ful fresh chrome.

When Gary bought the car, it came with fram­erails and tra­di­tional sus­pen­sion parts from Pete & Jakes, which were kept. Everett made some mod­i­fi­ca­tions to beef up the ’rails. P&J parts in­clude the chromed, drilled, and dropped I-beam axle, spin­dles, front shocks, Pan­hard bar, chrome hair­pins, and Su­per Bell rear tri­an­gu­lated four-link. Al­dan coilovers smooth out the ride in the back where a Cur­rie 9-inch Ford rearend is loaded with 3.50:1 gears. Steer­ing was im­proved with the ad­di­tion of a Unis­teer Per­for­mance box. Ef­fi­cient brak­ing is en­sured with Wil­wood discs at all four wheels and a Ford Crown Vic­to­ria mas­ter cylin­der.

When choos­ing wheels and tires, Gary went with alu­minum Ar­tillery wheels and '40 Ford Stan­dard hub­caps from The Wheel­smith.

The style is nos­tal­gic but the 18x8 and 17x6 di­men­sions are more con­tem­po­rary. They have been matched with BFGoodrich ra­dial tires mea­sur­ing 235/65R18 and 205/45R17.

The wheels were painted brown to match the in­te­rior and to con­trast with the ex­te­rior fin­ish. Chuck Gray per­formed the met­al­work on the coupe be­fore shoot­ing the Lom­bard Blue PPG paint, a '31 Ford color. Brad Grimm loaded his brush with the same color and con­trib­uted some low-key pin­strip­ing to the wheels. Gary said that he loved that shade of blue when he saw it on Joe Kugel’s

'32 For­dor sev­eral years ago. “I asked Joe, ‘Do you mind if I steal that color?’ He said, ‘Go ahead. I stole it off a road­ster.’” That sedan now be­longs to Deuce col­lec­tor Gary Ma­tranga; see it at­ti­cles/a-1932ford-sedan-that-loves-to-travel.

As we told you, things get a lit­tle more mod­ern un­der the hood. Gary has used a va­ri­ety of en­gines to power his street rods—old, new, Ford,

Chevy. This time he chose a Chevy ZZ4 crate en­gine be­cause, as he put it, “I wanted to try it and see how it worked.” Gary and the Grays didn’t mod­ify the long-block much from its out-of-the-box con­di­tion, but added a FAST fuel in­jec­tion sys­tem topped with a Bil­let Spe­cial­ties air cleaner to feed the 350ci en­gine. Tay­lor wires de­liver juice from the MSD ig­ni­tion, and a Be

Cool alu­minum ra­di­a­tor keeps the tem­per­a­ture just right. Steve Menke built the man­drel-bent ex­haust sys­tem, car­ry­ing the gases from Doug’s Head­ers, with cus­tom stain­less muf­flers tun­ing the sound. A brand-new GM 700-R4 trans­mis­sion and torque con­verter were picked for prac­ti­cal street use.

The car trav­eled to Schober’s Cus­tom Hot Rod In­te­ri­ors for up­hol­stery. Dave and Sally Schober have stitched the in­sides of many award-win­ning and mag­a­zine-fea­tured rods. For Gary’s coupe, the en­tire cock­pit was cov­ered in light brown leather—start­ing with the split-back bench from Wise Guys and con­tin­u­ing onto the door pan­els, rear panel, and head­liner. Match­ing squareweave car­pet cov­ers the floor. Look­ing for­ward, the stock dash was en­hanced with wood­grain­ing painted by Tom Ed­wards, which matches the Ju­liano’s banjo steer­ing wheel mounted on an ididit col­umn. The Lokar shifter is capped with a com­mem­o­ra­tive Deuce 75th an­niver­sary knob. Jeff and Becky Ber­trand at J&B Mi­crofin­ish cre­ated an en­gine-turned in­sert for the dash open­ing, filled with clas­sic black­face Ste­wart Warner “Wings” gauges—a 3-3/8-inch 160-mph speedome­ter and four 2-1/16-inch gauges mon­i­tor­ing fuel, oil pres­sure, volts, and tem­per­a­ture. A Cus­tom Au­tosound sys­tem is hid­den but heard, and Vin­tage Air cli­mate con­trol cools the coupe.

As soon as Gary’s coupe was com­plete, it went from Gray’s Garage to the show cir­cuit, earn­ing at­ten­tion and awards wher­ever it ap­peared. At the NSRA Street Rod Na­tion­als in Louisville, Rod & Cus­tom and STREET ROD­DER mag­a­zines both se­lected the car for top awards. All the honors, awards, and mag­a­zine sto­ries mean a lot to him, but as we said be­fore, Gary likes cre­at­ing cars—what he calls “the do­ing”—more than any­thing. Once he fin­ished build­ing and dis­play­ing his '32 three-win­dow coupe he got the bug to keep build­ing. The coupe is now part of Gary Ma­tranga’s col­lec­tion, along­side Joe Kugel’s For­dor and many oth­ers.

So what’s Gary McCormick “do­ing” now? His new project is a '36 road­ster. We can’t wait to see it.

For the dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence:

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