The Thrill of the Build ... or the Thrive of the Drive?



Flip Hayes’ ’32 Ford Deuce

Some peo­ple build them to drive; some may build them to sell. Oth­ers, well, they forgo the build process al­to­gether and just drive them (more of­ten than not, they’re the smart ones!). When it comes to the hot rod process, we each have our own niche we pre­fer— whether it’s ham­mer­ing metal or ham­mer­ing the throt­tle pedal. But there are some like Flip Hayes who have no pref­er­ence what­so­ever … they dig the en­tire process.

From the ini­tial hunt and sub­se­quent ac­qui­si­tion to the con­struc­tion and sub­se­quent first op­por­tu­nity to be driven, Flip’s what you might call an ad­ven­ture seeker when it comes to hot rods—and the ad­ven­tures aren’t al­ways part

of his master plan. I met the Santa Cruz/Watsonville tat­too artist back in the ’90s un­der the flu­o­res­cent lights of the now-de­funct A&W in Paso Robles; at the time, he’d just com­pleted a chan­neled Model A road­ster that knocked my (then non-ex­is­tent) socks off. Of all the tat­tooists I knew, he was re­ally the only one solely into early hot rods … as well as a fel­low con­nois­seur of bot­tled iced tea. Very lit­tle has changed over the past 20-some years.

Flip’s lat­est con­quest, a chopped ’n’ chan­neled ’32 For­dor sedan, was at first meant to be a com­pan­ion to his Deuce three-win­dow for his life com­pan­ion, his wife Tri­cia (hence the “MSTRIXY” plates) … “some­thing my wife could haul her friends around in,” he ad­mits. But it wasn’t about the end game,

rather, it was about ev­ery­thing in-be­tween—in­clud­ing that ini­tial hunt. As he re­calls it in a nut­shell:

“My buddy Jay Di­ola and I de­cided to make a mad dash to Canada to pick up the body I’d lo­cated via the HAMB. On the map it didn’t look so bad and we fig­ured we could do it non­stop if we took shifts driv­ing. I picked Jay up at San Jose air­port armed with a case of TeJava and a flat of sweet rolls from Costco and off we went. We made it to Canada in about two days. We get to the bor­der above Wyoming and we looked like two dudes who hadn’t slept or show­ered in as many days. For some rea­son the Cana­di­ans took one look at us and we had to do the whole ve­hi­cle/body search. Post prison pat down (mi­nus the cav­ity search), they hes­i­tantly let us in. We booked across Canada to where the body was above North Dakota, loaded up as the sun was go­ing down, and we were at the U.S. bor­der by mid­night. It was an­other day and a half to get back to Watsonville but if it weren’t for that ad­ven­ture I wouldn’t have seen snow for the first time let alone got­ten to have this crazy stinky ad­ven­ture with one of my best friends (as it is we’ve al­ready been in three car ac­ci­dents to­gether, one put me in a coma for a week and the other to­taled my ’33, so who would’ve said no to the trip?!).

“Though the be­gin­ning of the build was quite an ad­ven­ture, the com­ple­tion of it was just as much so with re­ally great friends. Keith Tardel (Rex Rods) built the chas­sis and chopped the body. Clay Slaugh­ter (Clay­ton’s Hot Rods) did a lot of the fin­ish work and had their painter David Perales paint the car. Grant Peause (GMP) built my mo­tor and helped with the me­chan­i­cals. Keith and Grant were the best men in my wed­ding, Clay I’ve known since my early twen­ties, and they are all still big parts of my life; life’s al­ways bet­ter with great friends!!

“After the car was fin­ished we drove it down to Ven­tura with Clay, Tim Ed­wards, and a few other pals trou­ble­free and had a su­per­fun week­end. Un­for­tu­nately, when we went down to Pismo for The Race Of Gen­tle­men, we didn’t have the same luck ... an ig­ni­tion mod­ule let go and we couldn’t get it sorted be­fore the rain showed up and we ended up with a very ex­pen­sive tow bill home. But this was just an­other chance to have a great ad­ven­ture with friends who are there for you more than fam­ily!”

Ten years in the ad­ven­ture mak­ing, the Hayes For­dor is an em­bod­i­ment of (mostly) pre­war hot rod right­ness (in both orig­i­nal and re­pop form), start­ing with that afore­men­tioned Deuce chas­sis con­structed by

Keith prior to his re­lo­cat­ing Rex

Rods Chas­sis to Austin, Texas. In the process, Tardel fa­cil­i­tated an un-boxed ’39 Ford X-mem­ber, ’46 banjo rear with a Hal­i­brand quick- change and an un-split wish­bone, dropped heavy Deuce axle with a split wish­bone and ’34 cross-steer box, Posies Model A springs, and new-old Lin­coln self-en­er­giz­ing drum brakes. The pre-’40 ex­cep­tions in­clude the ’49 Cadil­lac 331 built by Peause ac­com­pa­nied by an S-10 five-speed mod­i­fied to ac­cept the early Ford closed driv­e­line.

As Flip men­tioned, Tardel was also re­spon­si­ble for re­con­fig­ur­ing the roofline pro­file—a per­fectly ex­e­cuted 4-inch chop that com­ple­ments the now un-chan­neled body (it was a mess of a chan­neled rat rod when first ac­quired, as Flip puts it), just as the mus­tard-tinged PPG paint by Perales does in re­la­tion to the satin-black painted chas­sis and var­i­ous driv­e­train com­po­nents. A black vinyl up­hol­stery job by Rivera’s in Flip’s home­town of Watsonville wraps things up ac­cord­ingly—but the ad­ven­tures of the For­dor are far from over … at least as long Flip’s able to keep the rub­ber side down!

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