No other hot rod is as famous as this one.
If you’re a big hot rod fan, you probably already know at least a little about the McGee Roadster. However, even if you’re not, you probably already recognize the car. This 1932 Ford Roadster has been called by many “the quintessential hot rod” and for good reason. It is The Hot Rod which has come to inspire so many, making it as much a symbol as anything else.
The story of this car begins with Bob McGee who lived in post-WWII Southern California. With the GIs back home from the war and looking for a way to use their hard-earned cash for excitement, a good many of them turned to building hot rods. McGee was actually involved in the hot rod scene before the war, modifying his 1932 Ford V8 Roadster for better performance and custom style.
Back in the 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s hot rods were called “gow-jobs.”McGee wasn’t just into cruising around town with his ride, but actually raced it at various dry lakes in California. Then he was swept up into the global conflict, serving in the Pacific Theater.
While he was overseas, McGee’s friend Bob Binyon wrecked his car. We’re hoping he had permission to drive it. To make it up to his friend, Binyon started collecting replacement parts. You can probably see where this is going.
McGee actually just bought another ’32 Ford Roadster, but he worked hard on transforming it into something more. The car as it’s known today was completed by the fall of 1947. Among the tweaks was a lowered suspension (front and rear), larger Lincoln Zephyr wheels used in the rear, the grille shell was smoothed with the radiator cap deleted, many body parts were modified or removed, plus the Ford got a custom paint job and upholstery.
Not stopping with just aesthetics, McGee decided he could squeeze more power out of the Ford V8. Among the modifications was a Burn’s dual carb intake manifold, Spalding ignition, Federal Mogul finned copper cylinder heads, and a Filcoolater oil filter.
Continuing his involvement in the hot rod scene of Southern California while he attended college, McGee and his car received coverage by the media. They appeared on the cover of Hot Rod magazine in its first year of publication, and that’s how it became such an icon.
That legacy increased further when Dick Scritchfield became its owner. He eventually pushed the Roadster to 165 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the Street Roadster Class, then the following year hit 167.212 mph, clenching the “World’s Fastest Roadster” title.
Some claim the term “hot rod” is actually a reference to the 1932 Ford Roadster. After WWII people ditched their old Ford for the new cars rolling off assembly lines, making them financially practical for anyone looking to modify and customize a ride.