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Lady luck: Rods by Reid’s latest bare-metal beauty

20 January 2016


It’s been a while since there was a steel-bodied hot rod in the Reid Family’s garage, but very soon Janet’s dream of driving a ‘32 Ford pickup will come true!

After five decades of hot rodding, Rods by Reid’s John ‘JR’ Reid is finally building a car for his wife, Janet, aka ‘Flick’. The ’32 Ford pickup is the very definition of the hot rod perfection the Reids are renowned for. Shown here in its pre-paint, bare-metal guise, the ‘shop truck’ — as it’s referred to publicly — debuted at the Mount Shop Rod & Custom Autorama back in July [2015], where JR and Rods by Reid were recognized as Builder of the Year.

Amongst a seven-car display of Rods by Reid builds at the show, this perfect little pickup wowed show visitors and entrants alike. We rolled the bare-metal beauty into our studio the Monday after the show to offer a rare insight into the high-quality detail and workmanship of a typical Rods by Reid build.

Don’t think for a minute that this is just nicely executed because it’s Flick and JR’s personal ride. It not only reflects the components available through them, but it also showcases the world-class level of build from JR and his right-hand man Nakija ‘Nic’ Klaus at Rods by Reid. 
Back in NZV8 Issue No. 111, we took a behind-the-scenes look at JR’s career and the formation of Rods by Reid. At the time, this pickup was the centrepiece of the shop photography for the article, and, to the untrained eye, it looked close to being ready for teardown so it could be painted.

With its Inglese eight stack EFI–equipped stroked small block Ford engine mounted into the Rods by Reid frame, a Reid Lo-Ride front end, and a Winters Quick Change rear, the pickup is a mixture of what is referred to as ‘newstalgia’. The theme picks up some nostalgia styling cues and component choices, and puts a new spin on things. 

Of course, we’ve always enjoyed visiting Rods by Reid over the years and witnessing these builds come to life. This pickup was no exception. It was purchased as a bare cab and doors through Steve ‘Kiwi Steve’ Davies in California around 2007, but work on the build didn’t begin until 2009. One would think that for a shop like Rods by Reid it would be easy to build a pickup like this, but, like anything good in life, nothing comes easy. Work was carried out as time permitted, and there was often a long time between drinks as clients’ builds were carried out — cars such as Bruce Carter’s ’33 Ford Tudor, Chris Allen’s ’32 Ford Tudor, and Steve Payne’s 2011 West Coast Nationals (Pleasanton, CA) and 2012 Grand National Roadster Show (Pomona, CA)–winning Speed ’33 cabriolet. As this is written, the client work hasn’t slowed down, with JR and Nic on a tight deadline to complete a stack-injected Ford SOHC ‘Cammer’–powered ’32 Ford three-window coupe, but that’s another story. 

Aside from its killer stance and proportions, another of the pickup’s rare features is that it is an all-steel build. As the authorised dealer for Deuce Customs fibreglass bodies, Rods by Reid builds are usually of the fibreglass reproduction persuasion. Building a steel-bodied car this time around has resulted in the shop being able to showcase Nic’s metal-shaping abilities. That said, the body was started before Nic was employed, and Paul Duff at Bodymods in Hamilton is credited with the two-inch roof chop and door repairs. 

The remaining metal shaping on the pickup was performed in-house at Rods by Reid, and it’s worth a closer look to pick up on all the details. The rear tray is an incredible work of art, from the mini tubs to clear the 17×8-inch Budnik wheels to the rolled rear pan beneath the tailgate.

On the body, the doors have been fitted with LVVTA-approved burst-proof latches, and, to fully appreciate this, you need to understand that there is no room inside a 1932 Ford pickup door. How about the custom floor panels with channels formed into them to route the wiring cleanly and in a hidden way that will enable upholsterer Ian Goodwin to run a flat floor when it comes time to do the interior. 

Everywhere you look there are distinctive features that not only look great but required an incredible quantity of both time and vision to pull off, the front valance under the grille surround being just one. The valance is double skinned and flush fitted to the chassis rails, so, when you look at it, things flow and the fasteners are hidden. 

The next big deal up front is the headlight bar, which has had a nip and tuck to pull the headlights down lower than an off-the-shelf headlight bar would. It sounds simple enough until you learn that JR chopped the bar up every which way, to enable him to drill the dropped headlight bar out to hide the headlight wiring inside it. Yes, you read that right — the wiring is hidden inside the headlight bar, into the fender, and down the fender bracket into the chassis. Even JR admits the madness of it, but when you’ve spent the past five decades raising the bar you’re going to push the boundaries, right?

We could fill this entire magazine outlining all the details of this build, but, to conclude, this is what an elite level build looks like before paint and finishing detail. There is a lot we can all learn from the pickup in this guise. Note how the entire vehicle is totally assembled, including all plumbing. As it sits, you could wire this up and add fluids and take it for a drive, and that’s the point — to build the car completely before paint. 

Take the time to study the stance and proportions, and look at how the wheels sit within the fenders. That wasn’t a fluke. Careful planning of every aspect of the build is the difference between a timeless car and one that never quite made the cut. At this level of build, there’s no place for compromise, either. Keep nipping and tucking things until you achieve the desired result. 

This is a pure case of less is more — from the two-inch chop through to the carefully executed details and modifications, the result is a flowing and uncomplicated profile that can’t be beaten! We look forward to bringing you the finished pickup in a future issue of NZV8 — and, for Flick’s sake, we hope she doesn’t have too long to wait! 


  • Vehicle: 1932 Ford pickup
  • Engine: 342ci small block Ford, Ford Racing stroker crate motor, GT40 alloy heads, hydraulic roller camshaft, roller rockers, Inglese eight stack electronic fuel injection, FAST XFI-2 engine management system, FAST fuel pump, FAST 33lb injectors, Moon tank, Speedflow fittings and filters, FAST dual-sync billet distributor, MSD 6 digital control, MSD ignition coil, Rods by Reid custom headers, Rods by Reid custom exhaust, custom hand-formed radiator shroud, hidden power steering and recovery tanks, custom copper brass radiator, Dan Fink Classic grille insert, Vintage Air fan
  • Driveline: Ford C4 transmission, JW Performance torque converter, shift kit, polished Winters Quick Change diff
  • Suspension: Fully-optioned Rods by Reid Lo-Ride 1 independent front suspension, Rods by Reid four-bar rear, QA1 coilover shocks, Rods by Reid Lo-Ride 1 rear-mount front sway bar, Rods by Reid rear sway bar
  • Brakes: Rods by Reid pedal box, MBM seven-inch dual diaphragm booster and master cylinder, Wilwood calipers, 11-inch front rotors, 12-inch rear rotors
  • Wheels/Tyres: 16×7 and 17×8 inch Budnik Muroc III wheels, 205/60R15 and 255/60R17 Dunlop radial tyres
  • Exterior: Two-inch roof chop, custom three-piece hood, Brookville front and rear fenders, custom double-sided front valance panel, custom underside floor panel, custom front fender supports, modified fenders, custom front headlight bar, Greening nine-inch headlights, shortened deck, custom deck frame, 1¼-inch wheel tubs, custom tailgate and hinges, custom louvred pan and rear panel under tailgate, 14-gallon Moon alloy tank, 1937 Ford tail lights, custom stainless tail-light mounts
  • Chassis: American Stamping Corporation reproduction 1932 Ford rails, Rods by Reid 12-point tubular centre section and rear cross members, fully boxed, shortened rear rail horns
  • Interior: Mullins Flat Track steering wheel, Ididit ‘Road Star’ steering column, custom Classic Instruments gauges, full-steel interior, LizardSkin sound deadening throughout, custom steel floor, custom seat riser, custom transmission tunnel, power windows, central locking
  • Performance: Not yet, but it’ll come

This article was originally published in NZV8 Issue No. 126. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: