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Built With Speedway Motors: Rollin's 1948 Ford

5/18/2022
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Rollin Willingham (pronounced "Raw-lin") has a whole fleet of old cars that are ready to hop in and cruise, and each of them has its own soul and character. He calls this ’48 Ford Super Deluxe his “classy grocery getter.” But it wasn’t always that way.

Rollin's '48 has come a long way from being a multi-colored, barely running beater.

When Rollin got the sedan, it was anything but classy. He had just lost another of his classics to an accident that totaled it when a friend offered up this grungy sedan at a good price. Rollin snatched it up to fill the newly empty hole in his lineup. But the car he brought home was barely running, and really ugly. The body was covered in old red primer, and the fenders were a different color. "I like patina," says Rollin, "but this thing was ugly."

Rollin is a professional car builder by day, and he got to work immediately on his new sedan as his busy schedule allowed. With friends and club members by his side, he began to sort the car out mechanically. The 239-inch 59A flathead stayed under the hood, but Rollin used a Speedway Motors kit to add an alternator which, along with a replacement wiring harness, converted the car to run 12 volts. The stock driveline lives on behind the flatmotor, but everything was tweaked, tuned, and repaired by Rollin to make the car a reliable driver. The stock stance was brought down in the rear with longer spring shackles, and the radial tires on steelies help it to run straight down the Phoenix freeways.

The stock flattie lives on, even in the desert heat, thanks to a good fan and excellent maintenance.

Rollin straightened out the body and shot it with a fresh coat of hot rod flat black. A few dings and imperfections remain to remind him that this car is meant to be a driver and not a showboat. The effect is that of a classy car that can be driven anywhere without losing sleep over rock chips, door dings, and rogue shopping carts.

There are a few bumps and bruises on the car to remind Rollin that this is a driver.

We shot these photos of Rollin and his car at a Cars and Coffee event at our Tolleson, AZ location. It was near 100 degrees that day, which raises a couple questions; don’t flatheads get really hot? Oh, and also, how do you drive this thing around in the desert with no air conditioning? Rollin beat the heat under the hood with a Speedway Motors electric fan and thermostat kit that allows him to dial in the temperature where the fan kicks on. As for the heat inside the car, Rollin says, “We’re acclimated, 102-degrees is still a pretty nice day. I just open the wing windows.”

The interior is plenty cozy, and we love that the stock dash and gauges remain.

Rollin and his friends and fellow members of the Arizona Outlaw car club don’t believe in just driving their vintage iron on weekends and sunny days. They drive them everywhere, all the time. When we talked to Rollin on the phone, he was about to wrap up work for the day on a customer car. Then, as soon as the customer’s clock stopped running, he was off to the yard to rebuild the carb on one of his other old cars. That’s dedication, and our hat’s off to Rollin and his friends for keeping old iron like this ’48 out on the road where it belongs.

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