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FORDOR HISTORY by Ralph Arias (November 17, 2003)

YEAR: 1932
MAKE: Ford
MODEL: Fordor
I bought this car (my first) when I was seventeen and still in high school. The year was 1955.

For as long as I can remember I always wanted a 1932 Ford. My father was involved in building V8 60 engines for some of the local (San Francisco) midget racers and these men would be hanging around our house in San Francisco, so I got to see that a 32 was something special. These men loved to talk cars and sometimes they even gave me 32 parts. I was 8-9 years old.

When I was twelve years old we moved to Redwood City, CA. One night while riding my bike on El Camino Real I saw a 32 Cabriolet stopped at a stop sign. I knocked on the window and a man who introduced himself as Art Gray very graciously pulled over to show me his car. This was in 1950 and he had a 1949 Cad overhead V8 in it and I was so excited to see it, I told him I was going to get a 32 someday. Art and I are still friends some 53 years later.

When I bought the Fordor it was all I could afford. I had wanted a 3-window but couldn't afford one.

In Hot Rod Magazine in the Spring of 1955 I saw a yellow 34 coupe from Bakersfield with a Chevy V8 in it, and after getting beat by a stock 55 Del Ray I decided I had to have a Chevy V8. I bought a stock 265 for $350.00 from a local body shop and after a down payment I worked the rest off tearing cars apart. With a lot of help from some of my older friends I used a 50 Ford truck bell housing and a 3/8 inch plate cut with a torch by a friend and a pilot bushing for the input shaft. I had it running late in 1955 and street raced it frequently. From 1955 to 1957 I went thru 21 transmissions and 9 rear ends. In 1958 I cut down a 1957 3-speed transmission and welded a 1939 Ford rear mount transmission mount to the 1957 tail shaft. I still have it.

In 1960 I put in a Halibrand quick change, I raced it on and off from 1955 at the San Jose, Half Moon Bay and Fremont drag strips, almost always in B gas. On occasion I ran A gas. I stopped racing in 1962.

The starter at Half Moon Bay was the very young "Rodfather", Andy Brizio. We have had a lifelong friendship ever since.

After 1962 I drove it on the street and in 1967 changed to a 4-speed and Chevy rear end. In 1971 I re-did the frame with a 327 4-speed and a 1969 Corvette rear end. My friend, Tom Holmquist, was building air conditioning units for hot rods in 70-71, so I put one in the sedan in 1971. Pictures and article can be found in the November 1972 Rod and Custom Magazine.

Dennis D'Amico of Avenue Auto in San Carlos, CA was the key factor in the fit and finish of the exterior. Without his help, expertise, and months of work the paint job would not have been what it is. In fact, the car still has the original paint job from 1971 and looks good to this day. Paint awards were plentiful when showing the car.

I showed the car in 1972 and won several awards including the Sam Barris Memorial trophy, "Best Rod of the Year" at the 24th Annual Oakland Roadster Show, "Overall Rod Sweepstakes" at the Sixth Reno Rod and Custom Show, "Best Sedan" at Yellowstone, Las Vegas, Fresno, and San Mateo. In September 1973 I won "The Best Modified 32" at the first "Deuce Day" in Fountain Valley, CA. [[followup: ask about voting...]]

The car was featured in several magazines including: Street Rodder, Street Rod, 1001 Rod Ideas, Rod Action - all in 1972, Rod and Custom in 1973, and Cars in 1974.

The car is still as it was done with the exception of the carb and tires in 1971. Next year (2004) I am going through it all probably for the last time. I plan on modifying it for my children and grandchildren. It has been our family custom to drive my children and now my grandchildren to kindergarten and grammar school each year on the first day of school in the Fordor. There is a special article in Street Rod, September 1972 issue, that shows my family in front of Henry Ford School which is where my children attended prior to our moving to Bonny Doon. Also, I was able to drive my daughter to her wedding in 1991 in the car. Because of various fun events, my family is very attached to the car and has a very special, protective feeling for it.

The car will be updated with an independent front and rear end, late model computer fuel injection small block. MAYBE (the wish of my family) even an automatic.

Diane’s Input:

The Fordor, after Sacramento Autorama (1972), was used for family road trips, grandchildren's first day of kindergarten, picnics, weddings, road trips to Yellowstone, etc.

This car has so much history – Ralph and Diane's first date in 1955 – drag racing – car shows. Each phase of the car was fabricated and completed by Ralph. He decided to “update” again, in 2004. Ralph’s update was a complete re-build. He was able to complete 75-80% of the car before he became ill.

Mike Dutra, a very dear friend, highly-skilled and remarkably patient agreed to finish fabrication and completion of assembly. We are and always will be incredibly grateful.

We are also incredibly honored to display this beautiful, historic car at the 2012 Sacramento Autorama – 40 years after it was shown in 1972 – winning the Sam Barris trophy which is the only trophy on display in my home – Ralph was so honored to receive this very precious award.

In 1989 Ralph was honored to become a “Legend” at the Sacramento Autorama.

Automatic transmission installed! First time ever the Fordor has an automatic – Ralph did this so the car would be easier to drive for his family.

For specifics, be sure to see the table of modifications here...


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