The brainchild of Ford collector Gene Hetland, who drew inspiration from several significant Hot Rods, the “Triple Nickel” 1932 Hi-Boy took more than 35 years to complete. Hetland’s love affair with this style of Hot Rod began with the Doane Spencer Roadster: a ground-breaking, postwar Deuce Hi-Boy with a filled grille shell, shaved decklid and reportedly the first installation of a DuVall split-vee windshield on a 1932 roadster. The Doane Spencer Roadster is the stuff of legend, a car that created an infatuation throughout the Hot Rod community for its fenderless and streamlined roadster styling.
Over the years, Bob Morris, a Santa Barbara antiques dealer, persistently tried to buy the Doane Spencer Roadster, but never succeeded. So, he built his own Hi-Boy—a stunner that became a Hot Rod icon in its own right. Known as the “Nickel Car” because of its distinctive nickel-plated DuVall windshield and hardware, Morris’s Hi-Boy found its way into Hetland’s collection, though it was eventually sold to Bob Everts, who later built the “Nickel II.” Perhaps it was seller’s remorse, but Hetland embarked on a new design that would complete the series as “Nickel III.”
Featured in Hot Rod magazine and displayed at the 2015 Grand National Roadster Show upon completion, the Triple Nickel was a collaboration of some of the finest craftsmen in the country that was spearheaded by Mike McKennett. Cass Nawrocki reshaped an original 1932 Ford steel body by rolling the cowl edge and doors to flow like a ’36 and hand-formed the gorgeous, brushed stainless-steel top to blend seamlessly into the swept DuVall windshield. Dual cowl vents even flow with the lines of the DuVall windshield. Nawrocki extensively braced the body behind the seat from door post to wheel wells, and new 16-gauge stainless steel floorboards were installed.
Hetland built the chassis from a pair of 1932 Ford frame rails with Model A crossmembers, fabricated a new tubular center crossmember and laser-cut boxing plates with holes for the plumbing and electrical system. The front axle was dropped by Ansel Axles and then ground and block-sanded to perfection. Final body and paintwork was performed by Ron Morfitt in Glasurit base/clear coat, and virtually every removable component was shipped to Oregon Plating and dipped in nickel. The Hunter Green leather interior was completed by Cedardale Auto Upholstery.
Everts helped locate the prototype Ford 302 CI V-8 fitted with experimental FVPR (four-valve pushrod) hemispherical heads. The special-casted engine incorporates internal oil passages to the heads. The engine was topped with a one-off Hogan manifold with Hilborn electronic injection and mated to a Tremec 5-speed, while a custom aluminum driveshaft connects that gearbox to a very rare, NOS Halibrand quick-change rear end. Disc brakes are present at all four corners, and a Schroeder steering box is mounted to the reinforced firewall. An ACCEL computer controls the fuel injection and ignition.
The custom Indy roadster-style wheels were developed by Ron Blondel, who had the patterns made, commissioned a foundry to pour them in magnesium and hired a shop to CNC machine the wheels to emulate the original Halibrand design. The 18×7-inch rear and 16×4.5-inch front magnesium wheels were ceramic coated by Finish Line Coatings in a batch of gold pearl from the 1950s using a process that mimics the gold-hued Dow 7 color in a more durable finish.
Every great Hot Rod features subtle one-off cues, and “Triple Nickel” showcases individualistic touches throughout. As the car was nearing completion, Hetland thought the headlights looked out of place, so he designed custom brackets and mounts for the King Bee headlights that would be covered by teardrop inserts when removed. The trunk integrates a custom storage system for the headlights when not in use and features a removable panel that hides the battery tray and aluminum fuel tank mounted behind the seat. There is a rearview camera in the license plate with a monitor under the dash. While Classic Industries custom printed “Triple Nickel” in the dash gauges, the crowning touch is the “Nickel 3” logo engraved in the grille badge, shifter knob and horn button.
Arrangements to purchase this vehicle can be made directly by contacting Mecum representative Rob Williams by phone or text at (262) 236-7705 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.