Max Magness' 1932 Ford
Built from Wrecking Yard Parts
Les Gray lived 18 miles north of Grandfalls, in the neighborhood city Monahans, when Max built the roadster. He knew Max and rode with him in the hot rod back in the early 1960s. In 2019 Gray told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that he remembered Magness starting the build in 1959 when he was 23 years old; "Max built the car with help and parts from an old wrecking yard across the road from him. The yard was owned by Paul Covington. Max and Paul were friends, and Max got all parts and advise from Paul."
Channeled and Turned Into a Roadster
Max turned the old cabriolet into a roadster by cutting off the windshield pillars, replacing them with a Model A roadster windshield. The body was then channeled over the frame for a lower appearance. Up front, Max installed a dropped axle, aluminum headlight stands, and modern shock absorbers. The rear of the car was dressed up with 1950 Pontiac taillights, an illuminated Hollywood license-plate light, and an electric antenna. Inside, the seat was upholstered in two-tone red and white, while the door panels were upholstered in black and white and trimmed with Metalflake piping. The steering column was chromed, and it ran a red 1940 Ford steering wheel. The inside door handles were borrowed from a 1950 Ford. Gray believes Magness completed the build early in 1960. Originally it had a 110 horsepower Mercury flathead V-8 engine, and Gray remembers driving with Magness in the Spring of 1960. One time the two of them drove from Grandfalls to Monahans in a rainstorm; "There was not a dry thread left on us," he told Sondre.
Magness drove the car off and on for a few years, and at some point, he got a 322 Nailhead Buick V-8 out of a rolled wagon that he installed in it. Gray believed he never got the new engine to run properly, so the car was parked in his garage in 1963.
Sold to Switzerland
In 2008 Cheaters car club member Pascal Bandelier of Bernex city in Geneva, Switzerland came across the old hot rod on eBay. Pascal just knew he had to have the survivor, and he came out of the auction with the highest bid. Listed as a "Barnfind," the seller of the car was Rick's Rodz in Mesquite, Texas. Prior to that, the car had also been at Gas Monkey Garage for a week or two. Unfortunately, the car changed hands several times in a few months, and when Pascal bought it, most of the history was lost. Pascal started doing some research, and he found photos of the car in Soup Up Magazine No.2 and Soup Up Magazine No.3. The photos were taken at the Pate Swap Meet in Fort Worth, Texas in 2007. The title on the car from 2002 was issued to Max Magness of Grandfalls, Texas. The second owner was Gary L. Thomas of Midland, Texas, and the third owner was Rick Crocker of Mesquite, Texas.
When the car arrived in Switzerland it still had the Nailhead engine that Magness installed in the early 1960s. It ran an electric fuel pump and a 1940 Ford rear axle. It also came with an old rollbar, a big cast-iron protection over the transmission and a cut off fuel handle in the center of the floor. The engine was not in a running condition, and the 1939 Ford transmission was broken. In 2018 Pascal had been through two transmissions, and he hoped to get it on the road in Switzerland with license plates for the 2019 season.
The Long Hunt
In 2018 Pascal met Sondre Kvipt at the 2018 Race of Gentlemen in Wildwood, New Jersey. He told Sondre that he had been researching the history of the car without any luck for ten years. Pascal had been in touch with Richard Rawling at Gas Monkey Garage, who could tell him that he only owned it for a couple of weeks and that he didn't know anything about its history. The search for Max Magness, had ended with an obituary from 2010. Sondre agreed to list the car in the Lost and Found section on Kustomrama to help trace the history of the car. Shortly thereafter, Sondre got in touch with Don Cook of Soup Up Magazine, who could tell him that his friend Robert Cassel of Fort Worth purchased the car at the Pate Swap Meet in 2007 for $22.000 USD. "He later sold it, and it went through several peoples hands." Don remembered that there was a lot of interest in the car, but there was also a lot of work that needed to be done.
Thanks to Les Gray
After publishing the car on Kustomrama, the word started to spread, and about a year later Les Gray finally came across the story. Gray got in touch with Sondre and helped fill in the blanks about who originally built the car and when.
Looking for Old Photos
Magazine Features and Appearances
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