1932 Hupmobile Custom Roadster
- Brand: Hupmobile
1932 Hupmobile Custom Roadster
One day in 1951, Earl Ipsen, trucking a load of milk to an evaporator plant in Southwest Washington State, took a detour off Highway 99 to avoid a flooded river. As he wound his way up into the foothills, Earl spotted an old car for sale. It was a 1932 Hupmobile Sedan, a striking car even in its considerably weathered condition. Earl liked the Hupmobile's distinctive look and, as he passed by it each day, began to think about how he could turn it into a speedster. After some contemplation, he finally bought the car, for $50. It was towed home behind the milk truck, his wife at the wheel. 'My plan was to make it a facsimile of a sports car,' Earl would write in the Hupmobile Club's Hupp Herald magazine years later. It would be the first of many customs that he would undertake.
Earl set to work on his speedster project. A 'turret top' roof section, sliced from a '38 Studebaker sedan resting in a nearby salvage yard, provided the metal for the rounded rear deck, while the body and cowl were dropped down over the frame a full 6". The doors were notched and Ford Model A seats installed. Sheet metal from the sedan body was shaped to fill the gap between the deck and fenders, while a '37 Ford windscreen frame was modified in speedster style. The engine and drive train were left standard, but Earl did install an after-market Ford overdrive behind the stock transmission. The car was completed in 1952.
In 1957 someone talked Earl into selling the one-off Hupmobile, which passed through several hands in the decades that followed. Many years later, it turned up in the hands of a restoration shop owner who somehow became convinced it was a factory show car. The happy result was that a full, high-quality restoration was carried out. Except for a few items such as the Studebaker bumpers and the '37 Ford windshield, Earl's custom was still mostly 1932 Hupmobile. When the restorer redid the car, he re-equipped it almost completely with period-correct components. These included a nicely raked, chrome-framed, speedster-style split windscreen that replaced the '37 Ford assembly, while the paintwork was redone in a combination appropriate for an early '30s roadster. The Hupmobile retains this classic-era speedster look today. Indeed, with its cycle wings, wire wheels, racy slanted windscreen, and boat-tail deck, the low-slung Hupp is reminiscent of a 1930s Mercedes-Benz SSK from some angles.
Earl's 1982 and 1996 stories about the car in the Hupp Herald, and the photographs his son Brad has made available of the Hupmobile before, during, and after construction, constitute a wonderful provenance for future owners. The 'Ipsen Hupp' has won several 'Best of Show' awards and also reportedly took 1st place at the 50th Anniversary Portland Roadster Show in 2005.
The previous owner undertook a complete mechanical transformation to provide more reliable motoring, replacing the engine and transmission with a 350ci (5.7-litre) Chevrolet V8 and B&M 350 transmission. A new Speedway Motors drop front axle with Ford spindles was fitted, together with rack-and-pinion steering by Cross Steer. The original cable-operated brakes have been replaced with a modern power-assisted hydraulic system, with Speedway Motors' GM 11" discs and callipers at the front and 11" drums to the rear. The electrical system has been converted to 12-volt, including lights and gauges. All of these upgrades have been accomplished without any modification to the original chassis and related components, and all the original drive-train components have been retained should a future owner wish to return the car to the original specification. Purchased by the Key Collection at Bonhams' Quail Lodge sale in August 2012, the Ipsen Hupmobile is a genuine piece of motoring Americana. There never was, and never will be, another Hupmobile such as this.
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