At Clarke Hot Rods it is all about character – some things in life are larger than life; these people and objects can be better described as characters. The ’28-40 Ford passenger cars are such objects. Often what draws individuals toward old cars in general is the character they posses. Imperfections and oddities are what make 75 year old Fords different from new Toyotas. Somewhere in the early 1990’s, the trend of transforming old Fords into modern, smooth, sleek cars emerged. Shaving all trim, handles, door hinges and latches, Filling roofs, cowl vents, hidden gas fillers, etc became the norm.
The early cars in this movement were stunning – and wildly popular. The aftermarket responded, and soon you could buy a reproduction ’32 Ford body that came out of the mold super-slick – no holes, hinges, bumps and creases like the original – these cars now looked like the super-slick street rods from the start.
In this process all character was lost on these cars – both the original character from imperfections and oddities, and the new character brought on by the extensive restyling and design efforts of incredibly talented artists. Molds being pulled off of other ‘glass bodies, second, third, and even fourth generation molds producing a car intended to represent a ’32 Ford, but ending up as fiberglass hull devoid of an distinguishing characteristic that makes it a 1932 Ford.
But along the lines, someone decided it would be cool to build a new car to look old from the start – that it was OK to have extra unused holes in the frame rails, that maybe bias ply tires and drum front brakes do stop an old Ford just fine, and that removing the door handles and not filling the holes in the door is exactly what a 19 year old kid in 1952 probably would have done. The movement of building traditional-style hot rods was born.
Clarke Hot Rods has been full circle with this cycle, starting in 1996 at possibly the peak of the smoothie era, building fully independent suspended cars with fuel injected engines, to now having a shop with around six to eight ’32-34 Fords under construction, all of them to be flathead Ford powered, with no disc brakes to be found anywhere in the shop. While our focus has become that of simplicity and functionality; we still build hot rods with shiny paint, fully upholstered, with hefty chrome shop bills. And in the process, we take care to preserve every tiny bit of character that these old Fords have. Whenever and wherever possible the attempt to use original Ford parts and pieces is maintained, and build these cars just as the hot rodders of a generation ago would have.
The hot rodders of the post-WW2 era weren’t fabulous fabricators, they were just young guys that wanted to go fast, on a budget, with only salvage yards full of old cars as a catalog. Let’s get to work