Wheel Wright's Ride: Mike Stallings Contemporary Rendition of a Traditional Roadster. Street Rodder, Sept., 2007
By Ron Ceridono
Photography by Brian Brennan
People are involved in street rodding for all kinds of reasons-for many it's a hobby, other's it's a business, some got hooked as kids thanks to a relative, and then there are those who just love cool things on wheels. To make things easy if you ever have to describe Mike Stallings, all you'd have to say is "all of the above."
Although his name may not be the household variety, Mike's Fresno-based firm, Wheel Vintiques, is probably familiar if SRM is found in your abode. Mikes involvement with things with wheels came early in life. As a kid he built reversed steel wheels with his father by removing the centers, turning them around in the hoops, and stick welding them back together. He started a garage-based endeavor of his own in 1993 that today occupies a 30,000-square-foot-and-growing manufacturing facility producing more than 80 styles of cast alloy, steel, wire, and billet wheels.
Along with the challenges of managing a growing business, Mike's automotive love spans the gamut from hard-charging circle-track sprinters to the blistering performance of straight-line Funny Cars, but street rods-particularly the traditional '32 Ford type-are also objects of his affection. Taking all his automotive interests into consideration, it's not surprising that a number of influences came into play when Mike decided to build the roadster you see here. The highboy would combine a variety of early styling elements such as the front and rear lighting, steeply raked windshield, and of course the one-off wire wheels; the racing influence of the big Hemi with zoomies at one end and the quick-change at the other is unmistakable; and the fit, finish, and execution is as state-of-the-art as it comes.
After the concept of the car was established, Mike enlisted the aid of some of the most talented people in the business to make it happen. Randy Clark of Hot Rods & Custom Stuff was called for one of his signature dropped, pinched, and stretched Deuce Steel Chassis and a Brookville Roadster body sits on top of that. Joe Bettencourt built the 392 Chrysler with most of the parts, including the adapter that allows the use of a GM Turbo 350 transmission, coming from Hot Heads.
Once the chassis was complete and the engine was installed, Rob Fagundes and the crew at Custom Concepts made the sheetmetal as perfect as humanly possible before Rob shot what Mike calls a '50s gold and black paint combo.
It goes without saying that having talented friends helps with a project like this one, and it certainly doesn't hurt to know someone in the chrome business either. Mike's brother, Jeff Stallings, owns Visalia Chrome, where all the plating was done.
Although there were lots of difficult decisions to be made during construction, the list of candidates was short when it came to picking an upholsterer for the roadster; the only name on it was Gabe Lopez. Considering the amount of thought and planning that went into every detail of this Deuce, Mike uncharacteristically gave Gabe absolute free rein to do as he would when it came to the interior; but who can argue that kind of decision-making given the results.
After two year in the making, wiring, plumbing, and final assembly chores were assigned to Mike's longtime friend and fellow Fresno resident, Jimmy Skoglund.
When it comes to building a '32 highboy roadster the real challenge is incorporating all the traditional elements that define the style while ending up with a car that is different from all the rest. That's what Mike Stallings wanted, and we'd say that's exactly what he got.
|Insert / Guages||Bob Drake / Mooneyes (Santa Fe Springs, CA)|
|Steering wheel||LimeWorks (Whittier, CA)|
|Interior mirror||Bob Drake (Grants Pass, OR)|
|Seats||custom by Gabe Lopez (Bloomington, CA)|
|Material / Color||buckskin leather|
|Body style / Material||roadster / steel|
|Body manufacturer||Brookville Roadster (Brookville, OH)|
|Hood||Rootlieb (Turlock, CA)|
|Hood Hinges/support||Hot Rods & Custom Stuff|
|Headlights / Taillights||Guide / '37 Ford.|
|Windshield||Wanlass / Rodwell|
|Frame / Manufacturer||Hot Rods & Custom Stuff (Escondido, CA)|
|Modifications||stretched / pinched|
|Chassis plumbing||stainless by Jimmy Skoglund|
|Rearend / Ratio||Winters quick-change / 3.00:1|
|Rear suspension||Bilstein (Poway, CA) coilovers|
|Rear brakes||Willwood (Camarillo, CA) discs.|
|Front suspension||Pete & Jakes (Peculiar, MO) Hot Rod Parts|
|Front Brakes||SO-CAL Speed Shop (Pomona, CA) discs.|
|Steering box||Flaming River (Berea, OH)|
|Front wheels, make & size||Wheel Vintiques (Fresno, CA), 16x4-1/2"|
|Rear wheels, make & size||Wheel Vintiques, 18x5-1/2"|
|Front tires, make||Excelsior from Coker (Chattanooga, TN)|
|Rear tires, make||Excelsior from Coker|
|Gas tank||Hot Rods & Custom Stuff|
|Make||GM Turbo 350|
|Shifter||Gennie Shifter (Denver, CO)|
|Trans mods||mild shift kit|
|Driveshaft||Inland Empire Driveline (Ontario, CA)|
|Displacement||396 (.030" over 392)|
|Cooling fan||Cooling Components|
|Radiator||Walker Radiator Works (Memphis, TN) Z-series|
|Heads||stock cast iron|
|Valves / Springs||stock / Hot Heads Research & Racing (Lowgap, NC) replacements|
|Valve covers||Hot Heads|
|Manifold / Induction||RetroTek (Corona, CA)|
|Ignition||Joe Hunt Magneto / HEIs|
|Headers||zoomies by Steve Kent|