Road Rules! Double Deuces – Cross-Country Travels in a Pair of ’32 Fords
Here’s a hot rod math quiz: When does 2 x 32 equal 342,000? When you’re Bart Caliaro and you own two high-mileage road warriors, a ’32 Ford sedan with 182,000 miles on the odometer and a ’32 roadster that’s racked up 160,000 miles.
Bart splits his time between South Londonderry, Vermont and Southwest Florida, and makes cross-country jaunts in one of his ’32s about as often as most of us drive to the bank. Consider: At least five roundtrips to the L.A. Roadsters Show, four runs to Bonneville, annual trips to Florida, and a 7,000-mile trip last summer to Victoria, British Columbia, for the Northwest Deuce Days.
Bart’s traveling ways began almost 20 years ago when he acquired an incomplete, glass-bodied ’32 Ford roadster. The car is currently powered by a balanced and blueprinted 283c.i. small-block Chevy hooked to a 700R4 automatic. The front suspension features disc brakes on a four-inch dropped axle, while a Ford 9-inch rearend with drum brakes holds up the back end.
The steel-bodied ’32 sedan is powered by a Ford 302c.i. V8 and AOD transmission hooked to a Ford 9-inch rear. Like the roadster, the sedan features disc brakes on a four-inch dropped front axle and drums in the rear. The sedan has heated seats for the cold days and a recently installed A/C system for the summer heat.
Bart’s first long trip in the roadster was in 2002 to the L.A. Roadsters event on Father’s Day weekend. “I’ve always wanted to go,” he says. “I hardly ever fly to a show; I try to drive everywhere I can.”
After a stop at a show in Pennsylvania, Bart attended a Goodguys show in Indy where he met with a friend who introduced him to a fellow hot rodder, Steve Hardin, who became a long-time friend and traveling companion. “Steve invited me to tag along with them to LA, as long as I could keep up,” Bart says. “I said don’t worry, just look in your rearview mirror and I’ll be there.”
Bart says the first trip to Los Angeles was a blast and he’s road-tripped to the show five other times with Steve as a fellow road warrior. “He’s a pleasure to travel with, he likes to lead and I like to follow.”
In addition to annual trips to Florida for the winter, Bart regularly heads to Bonneville with the Rolling Bones group out of New York. “They call themselves the traveling circus and they are,” Bart says.
One incident on a trip to Bonneville illustrates the spirit of the open road. Heading west from Kentucky to Iowa, Bart realized he needed gas, so he exited the Interstate when he saw a sign for a gas station. “I’m driving and driving, and I don’t see any gas stations,” Bart says. “All of a sudden I ran out of gas.”
Just as he stopped and opened the door a guy in a pickup stopped and asked if Bart needed help. Bart said he needed gas and the guy told him to hop in. He did and they headed for a gas station. Once the gas can was full, Bart reached in his pocket to pay and realized that he’d left his wallet back in the ’32. The good Samaritan paid for the gas and Bart reimbursed him back at the car. “Driving a hot rod everyone bends over backwards to help you out,” Bart says.
A 7,000-mile roundtrip in 2019 to the Northwest Deuce Days in Vancouver was a memorable trip for Bart because his son, Brett, joined him. Bart drove his sedan and Brett drove the roadster. Fellow rodder Steve Hardin was also on the trip. The journey included stops at the World’s Largest Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa, the Badlands in South Dakota, and Wallace, Idaho, which claims to be the center of the universe.
For Bart, getting anywhere in a ’32 is half the fun – sometimes more. “If you have a cell phone, a credit card and towing insurance you can go anywhere you want.”
Photos courtesy of Bart Caliaro