Hot Rod Revival

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The 1932 Ford roadster has always been an object of admiration for John Scheewe.

“It’s the quintessential hot rod,” he says. “I had coveted ’32s forever.”

Scheewe has always been self-taught. He started learning car repairs in high school as a way to avoid paying for the costly attention his car needed. Those early repairs started a life-long love of classic cars, and he’s since owned close to 30 of them.

In 1972, a newspaper advertisement for a 1932 roadster caught his eye. Six hundred bucks and a trade of a Model T head later, the roadster was sitting in his shop.

Originally, Scheewe was interested in restoring the car to a more modern, technologically advanced condition.

“It sat there for the better part of 10 years while I built other cars,” he says.

Finally, in the early 1990s, he decided the time had come to start working on the project. As the retired co-owner of DuFresne’s Auto Service in Portland, Ore. (his wife, Nancy, currently owns the shop), Scheewe had plenty of time to dedicate to starting from scratch with the roadster.

The body had been channeled, meaning the floor had been cut out and dropped down over the frame, so he started by reversing the channel and putting in a reproduction floor. The back of the body had been severely damaged, so Scheewe made new corners for it.

Both doors had to be reskinned and numerous rust holes and cracks were filled in. In fact, though the small dash only has six instruments, Scheewe says it had more than 90 holes in it that had to be filled and welded.

Next, he lowered the windshield by nearly four inches for a sleeker look and repaired the cloth top with wooden bows that was original to the roadster.

The windshield was the only body modification that Scheewe chose to make. The roadster even still has the stock gas tank that hangs out of the back below the body.

Once the body was complete, he put on a set of Michelin tires, steel disc wheels, and, in front, Lincoln brakes.

Scheewe installed a 350ci small block Chevy engine from a 1973 truck that he rebuilt and topped with three single-barrel carburetors. The car has a four-speed manual transmission and various other hot rod features.

Scheewe installed the tuck-and-roll upholstery on the seats himself, and he painted the car with a dark-gray epoxy primer. He decided to stick with the primer as a nod to his high school days, when that was all he could afford.

“This was the color gray that was the primer back in the day,” he says.

The underside is painted a dark purple.

It took exactly one year and one day for Scheewe to complete the restoration. Since then, he’s used it as a driver, traveling up and down the Northwest coast. Every Wednesday, he and Nancy take it to a local car show at the Portland International Raceway.

“It’s my night to make dinner,” he says. “So that’s where we go.”

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