Striking Gold – Rich Staph’s ’32 Ford 5-Window Coupe
Editors Note – The West Coast Nationals has always attracted the country’s top street rods and new creations from influential builders. Goodguys celebrates their presence by making this event the home for the Goodguys/BASF America’s Most Beautiful Street Rod award. This honor recognizes beauty, style, and refinement in 1948-and-earlier street rod construction. Five finalists are selected, and then a committee evaluates and ranks the finalist on beauty and design, in addition to quality-of-construction elements like fit, finish, and attention to detail. George Poteet’s gorgeous “Three Penny” ’36 Ford Roadster was named the 2019 winner, but each of the finalists warrants a closer look such as Rich Staph’s ’32 Ford 5-window shown here.
When you start with a ’32 Ford 5-window coupe originally built by the crew at So-Cal Speed Shop, including a 2½-inch chop by the storied Kennedy Brothers of Pomona, California, you have something special to work with. After a refresh, Rich Stapf’s sparking gold coupe is a study in timeless street rod design and construction, down to the Buick Nailhead under the louvered hood.
The So-Cal version of the ’32 was massaged by Pete Chapouris, Ryan Reed, Jimmy Shine, and Mick Jenkins utilizing a wide array of So-Cal parts along with other suppliers’ pieces. Built on a So-Cal “step-box” frame featuring a So-Cal five-inch dropped axle and mono-leaf spring, the front setup also includes So-Cal hidden disc brakes. Eleven-inch drum brakes sit on a So-Cal buggy-sprung/ladder bar rearend that houses a Currie 9-inch Ford with 3.90 gears. The 15×4.5-inch Halibrand front wheels are wrapped in 145/15 Diamond Back tires with shaved sidewalls. Rebel 16×8-inch Trick 8 wheels in the rear are wrapped in 245/75/16 Diamond Backs.
The exceptionally straight and tight steel body is covered in House of Kolor Zenith Gold sprayed by Mick Jenkins and Jerry Sanders. The chopped top is joined by other hot rod hallmarks like louvered hood tops and ’48 Chevy taillights.
Power for Rich’s ’32 Ford 5-window comes from a ’63 Buick 401c.i. Nailhead V8 built by Ray Zeller Racing Engines. It’s topped by an Offenhauser dual-quad setup featuring NOS Cal Custom carb coops. Moon finned aluminum valve covers dress up the stock heads. Ignition is courtesy of MSD while Jimmy Shine-built custom headers feed exhaust waste through a Jet-Hot-coated two-and-a-half-inch exhaust system. A TKO 600 Tremec five-speed pushes the 310 horsepower and 410 foot-pounds of torque to the rearend.
The old-school-design interior shows off the custom-built seats by Sid Chavers, wrapped in black and white leather. German square-weave carpet covers the floor. The dash houses a So-Cal engine-turned gauge panel that includes NOS Stewart Warner Green Line gauges. A custom CON2R steering wheel sits on the column. An Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop shifter controls the transmission.
If you believe the old adage that the second time’s the charm, here’s proof that even a well-built hot rod can be improved with the right touches.
Photos by John Jackson