After finally completing the extensive endeavour of recreating one of the most famous Mustangs ever to be immortalised on the silver screen, “Eleanor”, Wasyl Rosati succumbed to his passion for an old school hot rod to share stable space. With one extraordinary set of wheels now ticked off his wish list and a new found collaborator that he could trust, Wasyl made the call to Andy Minas of Andy’s Restorations to inform him of his new plan.
“I met Andy through the Mustang after being stuffed around with a series of other shops. We have become really good mates. I found somebody that stood by their word and the quality of their work, Eleanor was the result of a lot of hard work and a good friendship initiated from the outcome. I never built the Mustang to be a show car, just to put in the garage and drive when I wanted to. It went through a lot of hands and turned out better than first envisaged and deserved to be shown off. I wanted to support Andy and the crew by that. Then I got the bug and have fallen into the lifestyle.”
He also admits that the roadster is not something that he had been dreaming about for eons, but when he became car struck by vintage iconic hot rods, he soon realised that the ’32 is the car to have. Who can blame him, countless others before him have fallen for the same temptress.
Andy has more contacts in the auto-refinishing industry and the hot rod community than he cares to admit, so it didn’t take long to uncover a suitable canvas to create Wasyl’s ultimate old school roadster.
“The steel body was a stalled project that had lost the interest of its owners,” Andy recalls. “At the time of purchase it was already in epoxy primer and we were wrapped. I found it through a friend and it was perfect for the project, until Wasyl loaded it onto a trailer backwards! As it rolled onto the tailer the drivers door popped open and got caught, the momentum just about ripped it off bending the hinges and pillar,” he concludes with remorse.
“I was pissed off,” adds Wasyl. “When I delivered it to Andy I just said that the door needed a little attention…”
Like all novice hot rodders before him, Wasyl pored over magazines and scoured the internet for ideas. Some made the cut and others made the bin, but it was all a massive induction to a new world where big motors stuffed into stripped down old cars ruled.
“We collaborated on the paint colour, upholstery tones and items like the gauges and such,” Wasyl shares, “Andy would show me a few designs to choose from and say you can have this, this or this… and don’t even f*#king think about that as it won’t be coming out of my shop with that! He was very clear about some things.”
Once securing the body, Andy kick-started the entire project by acquiring a complete rolling chassis that would fit the bill. The 1932 boxed frame was additionally strengthened with a RHS X member constructed from one-inch square tube fabricated in a mirror image (upper and lower) configuration. Preferred stance is achieved by employing a Model A front crossmember while outback, parallel four bars secure a Ford nine inch third member suspended by Aldan coil over shocks. A pan hard bar helps control sideways action. Back at the pointy end, a catalogue of So-Cal Speed Shop components plant the nose slanted towards the pavement with good looks and superior braking capabilities.
Although the majority of the chassis work was “ordered in” to speed up the process, Andy was in charge of motor installation and shoe horning the Chrysler Hemi engine into a spindly pair of 30s rails takes a little finesse. The thought process to include steering geometry from the opposite seating position of most Aussie hot rods was emphatic to the build. “That’s how Henry Ford built them and all the images of cool ‘32s that I liked were the same,” Wasyl explains.
“I chose the Hemi as that was the motor to have if you could afford one back in the day. Like most things, I looked for so long for a Hemi and once I bought one, two others popped up,” Wasyl laughs. With the big Mopar mill anchored into the frame, Andy fabricated a gearbox mount to accommodate the Turbo 400 transmission before the entire ensemble was blown apart for paint and detailing.
Andy is an accomplished painter in his own right and so having American paint ace Charley Hutton finish the car might seem to be an unusual deviation. “After a few beers with Andy, the idea of having Charley paint the car came up and it just grew from there, it became bigger than Ben Hur. Having Charley paint the car when Andy rebuilt it was in no way derogatory to Andy’s ability, it was a just a neat idea that manifested into what it became,” Wasyl admits.
After researching the evolution of hot rodding and its grass roots beginning, Wasyl wanted his roadster to capture the essence of early hot rods that would reflect the past. That plus Charley’s linage with the legendary Boyd Coddington fitted perfectly within Wasyl’s overall vision. Having the paintwork applied by one of the best painters in the world today just adds another element that makes this car special.
“I knew who Charley Hutton was by watching TV from shows like American Hot Rod and Overhaulin,” Wasyl explains, “but having the opportunity to own the first car in Australia to be painted by him was a pretty awesome notion. It became a very amazing event for all involved including the PPG staff that attended, Andy’s Restorations and me as the owner. I also think it was pretty cool for Charley.”
“My relationship with PPG has lasted 35 years and it was their initial connection with Charley that got the paint ball rolling,” Andy discloses. “We had the entire car paint prepped and rubbed down to Charley’s standard, the all steel body was in pretty good nick and in Epoxy primer and only needed minor body work, hi fill and to be blocked. Everything was blown apart and hanging in the booth ready for Charley when he arrived. Even the social side of the evening was great as we all just mucked around in between coats and talked shop.”
“He (Charley) cleaned all the corresponding panels six or seven times,” Wasyl recalls, “he didn’t care if anyone got pissed off in the process as he would not cut any corners until he was happy with it.”
Straight off the plane from the US, Charley downed an egg and bacon roll for brekkie before he picked up a brand new spray gun and started shooting colour until it was done.
“I don’t think he slept for three days. Once it was done, he flew straight back and painted a car for (Chip) Foose that was on deadline,” Andy says with astonishment. “The idea was to do it over a couple of days but once he started he got into a groove and never stopped. He painted through the night and once baked, we colour sanded the clear. It was almost shining after final wet sanding with 5000 grit paper.”
“Charley mixes the paint his own way and cuts the surface of the paint during colour sanding in a certain way,” Andy tries to explain with hand motions. “Charley is a very talented guy that is only too happy to share his craft where a lot of other guys won’t. This old dog still learnt some new tricks”
Before Charley departed he presented Wasyl with the signed spray gun as a gesture of good friendship and appreciation of inaugurating another chapter in his effervescent career.
As the exterior lay perfect though lifeless, it was up to Andy to administer the final vivacious stage of the process by buffing the entire assortment of components to a mirror like finish. Even the chassis wasn’t overlooked as Andy cut and buffed all that the eyes can see.
He also admits that this was supposed to be an everyday driver, but one can’t help but be a little beguiled by peeking inside the lavish cockpit. Being a flamboyant type of guy, Wasyl let his love for fine leather run rampant by combining two types of hide. “I really wanted it to retain the old school style but be different to anything else that I have seen at the same time. I think that adding the crocodile skin inserts gives the roadster a classy and fashionable finish that people don’t expect.”
The heated seats are also a plush inclusion to occupant’s comfort but the pair stopped short of installing air-conditioning. “Andy said no and I would have been too embarrassed to have it,” Wasyl laughs.
“The entire build was completed in 12 months thanks to starting with the full rolling chassis,” Andy informs, “Wasyl had some good ideas and some average ones, I just had picked the good ones!”
“The paint work is a one off and can’t be replaced. It was a good project that went extremely well, aided by Andy’s vast experience at crafting quality vehicles for almost four decades. I have no way of achieving what Andy can so I left it to the expert. I just know what I like,” Wasyl concludes.
After just one year of the get-go, Wasyl had a new thoroughbred to tame, as up until the presentation of the keys he had never driven a hot rod before. After mashing that go pedal hard on the toe board with a lively Hemi, he was grinning from ear to ear. Imagine what he’ll plot next.