Hot Rod Drives Topless, Windowless, Wiperless Roadster Cross-Country in Winter

When driving across the country, most people would choose a large, comfortable car with satellite radio, a functioning heater, and cruise control, safely sealed off from the outside elements. But what’s the fun in that? Hot Rod’s Thom Taylor decided to drive Bill Akin’s 1932 Ford Roadster featured in the December 1979 issue of Hot Rod from Nashville to Southern California in the middle of winter. The roadster was sans top and side windows, and also was lacking windshield wipers. All for part of Hot Rod magazine’s 65th Anniversary celebration.

Except for a recent engine rebuild, and some basic maintenance, the roadster is essentially the same as it was 34 years ago, when it graced the cover of the magazine. Just outside of Nashville, Taylor experienced freezing rain, and the lack of wipers on the roadster made forward visibility a challenge. After an overnight’s stay in Memphis, and a brief stop at the Sun Records recording studio, of Elvis Presley fame, it was back on the interstate toward Oklahoma City.

With an oil mist coming out of the crankcase breather on the valve cover, Taylor improvises a paper towel “diaper” which cuts down on the windshield splatter. Unfortunately, the weather outside of Oklahoma City is even chillier than Tennessee. Akin was so confident in its reliability, he told Taylor to do anything he wanted with it, which he took to heart by doing a few burnouts on a long, lonely stretch of country road.

A planned detour to the Hoover Dam was dashed by an oil leak, but the car ultimately made it to its destination in one piece. Despite the punishing, exposed weather conditions, Taylor said he’d do it again, but next time, not during winter.

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