By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Steve Pierce of One-Off Technologies has been building hot rods, customs and promotional vehicles over the last 40 years and his latest project, a reproduction of Edsel Ford's 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster, has taken him nearly 3,000 hours of work already, but won't be completed until next year.,
Recognized as one of the leading interior trimmers in the country, Pierce has taught himself nearly every phase of the coach building craft with his work winning awards at auto shows all over the country.
His projects have included cars that competed for the Most Beautiful Roadster Award as well as an art deco Delahaye, which was heralded in the 1930s as the world's most beautiful automobile. And there were three-award winning vehicles for Gilford auto collector Dick Metz, including a 1932 Ford Highboy Roadster named "Oh Boy" which took third place at the Detroit Autorama in 1999 and won the first-ever Sam Radoff's Yosemite Sam's Sculpture Excellence award the same year.
Others that he built for Metz included a 1966 Ford F-100 pickup, which was customized by Pierce with a fiberglass trunk and body and includes matching accessories and won awards as the best radical pickup at the Autorama, and a 1955 Ford Courier, a light duty sedan delivery truck, that has won awards as the best truck at a half dozen different shows, including Boston's World of Wheels and the Detroit show.
He also building a car for himself that he can drive year-round, a 1932 Ford reproduction hot rod with a fiberglass body, which is powered by a 1968 Ford 302-cubic-inch engine. The car features a five-speed stick shift, a shift-on-the-fly transfer case and, most unusual for a hot-rod, is a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Pierce says that one of the more interesting cars he worked on was the art deco Delahaye. He served as he chief technical officer for the project, building a custom tailored rolling chassis for the vehicle, which is powered by an all aluminum BMW V-12 which is connected to an all aluminum C-5 Corvette rear-mounted transaxle and front suspension.
He says that when he first started building hot rods in 1976, people from all walks of life were having him build them, but over the years they have become too expensive for the average working man and and that the craft now is geared toward an upscale market.
Pierce, who has immersed himself in automobile history, said Edsel Ford, the only son of Henry Ford, was probably America's first hot rodder and at the age of 7 was driving around Detroit streets and being ignored by local police, who knew who his father was.
In 1934, Edsel, who was by then the president of Ford Motor Company, had a sleek roadster based on European styles built as his own personal roadster. Known as the Model 40 Special Speedster, it had custom touches, including an alligator-style hood with louvered side panels, low-mounted headlamps molded into the body, an enclosed radiator with a concealed cap, a starter button on the instrument panel, no running boards, and long, low proportions.
Following Ford's death in 1943, the car changed hand several times and in 1958 was sold for only $603. Several years ago after a complete restoration, it sold for $1.76 million at the Pebble Beach and is now on display at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.
Pierce said he decided in 2009 to build a reproduction of the car and was able to obtain full-size drawings from a Detroit firm, which he used to build a template to work from. He said that the wheelbase of his vehicle will be 122 inches, 10 inches longer than the original, which allows him to make the driver's seat larger and more comfortable.
"I've stretched out the cockpit and widened the body," said Pierce.
He said the roadster will be powered by a 362-horsepower Ford V-10 Triton truck engine which will be coupled to a five-speed stick transmission. The car's aluminum body has already been built and Pierce will be spending the next year working on the interior and painting the car.
"I'm building it as a spec car" said Pierce, who plans to trailer the car across the country in the summer of 2017 and sell it at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance auction in August.
"I'll drive it up and down the Pacific Coast Highway with my wife before going to the auction,'' said Pierce, and after that he'll turn his attention to his own hot rod.
Steve Pierce stands beside a 1934 Ford Model 40 Special Speedster reproduction that he's building at One Off Technologies in Gilford and will be ready to take part in the 1917 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
An actual 1934 Speedster. (Photo courtesy Conceptcarz.com)
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