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Magic Ton for Rossi’s Rod

Henry Rossi of Gilroy, California has a unique tale to tell.  At the tender age of 14 he had his driver’s licence and drove himself to school in a 1934 Ford five window coupe hot rod – how cool is that?


Clearly, hot rodding was in his blood at a very early age, but it’s taken Henry and wife Mary Ann over 30 years to fulfil a lifetime ambition of building a hot rod of the very highest calibre.  Their lovely ‘32 Roadster displayed at the 2007 Grand National Roadster Show had all of the hallmarks of a pro-build with its subtly modified bodywork, and immaculate construction, but the car was put together in Henry’s double garage, and with the exception of the interior, was assembled and painted very much by the owner himself.  


Henry explains “I used to be a body man and painter many years ago and I worked for United Airlines as a sheet metal mechanic, so I leaned an awful lot about fabricating and painting over the years.  I used to race midgets in the 60s too, so that’s where I picked up a lot of my mechanical skills.” 


The project got underway with a So Cal pinched nose chassis into which werer hung a Magnum 5 inch dropped and drilled I-beam axle and mono leaf front spring.  Up back is a Currie 9 inch axle with ladder bars and coil over shocks. Henry wanted something a little more exciting than a factory crate motor under the hood, so sitting snugly between the rails is a potent Edelbrock small block delivering 401 horsepower.  This motor is equipped with aluminium heads and breathes via a custom stainless steel exhaust system incorporating SuperTrapp megaphones which exit gases just in front of the rear wheels.

Henry hand-formed the hood blisters and the fairing behind the driver's head, plus the wing strut spreader bar and the chromed details


The body is from Brookville, but as you can see it’s not exactly standard.  Henry beat out the one-off driver’s side fairing from six pieces of metal which he formed against a sand bag and then welded in place – a very nice job too.  He added a 20 degree rake to the windshield, extended the top of the hood one inch and chopped the grille shell by the same amount to give a slightly more rakish side profile and a forward tilt to the grille.  The hood side blisters were hand fabricated and a further unique touch is the front spreader bar fashioned from a World War 2 plane wing strut. 

The screen is raked by 20 deg, the grille shell chopped one inch and the hood extended


Matching the beautifully crafted exterior is a hand-formed dash accentuated with Harley bike front fender strips cut to different lengths and chromed.  There’s a Juliano 40s Banjo steering wheel in place and a quality leather tuck and roll interior – the only job Henry had to outsource. 


As for the paint, well, the finish is in flawless black with cream scallops edged in red.  Added detail, such as the chromed interior door spears, the neat little cowls for the hood blisters and the chrome trim running the length of the hood – were all hand-formed by the owner.

Harley bike fender strips flank the two instrument displays in the dash  


Amazingly, the car was put together in just nine months.  “It was a really concentrated effort and I was working almost non-stop,” revealed Henry.  “This is the first car I've built to this sort of standard and I’m really pleased to say it drives really well.  In fact we’ve already had it to well over 100 mph.   Watch your mirrors Henry!

Story & Photos:  Andy Kirk


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