It’s All In The Family – The Sapers’ Father Son Build Really Shines
Words and Photos By: Tony Colombini
The story begins about 50 years ago when Marc Sapers’ father (Perce Sapers) bought him his first car for $20.00 when he was only 12-years-old. As a first car should be, this ’36 Ford four door sedan with a hole in the radiator and a stripped out first gear was a basket case and wasn’t even near driving condition. It was put up on four milk crates on the side yard and sat waiting for Marc. So, Marc Sapers was challenged to start working on it and fix it before he could drive it.
They stripped the transmission down and got a new low gear cluster in a junkyard and followed an old motors manual to rebuild it. Marc strapped the radiator to the front of his bicycle and rode it to a local radiator shop, which repaired the core for seven bucks. For four years he drove the car up and down their long driveway doing burnouts and making a bunch of noise in the LA suburb of Montebello.
Fast-forward about 30 years and Marc shares a story of teaching his own son, Scott Sapers how to drive. He said he would teach him how to drive when he was able to reach all the pedals and see over the steering wheel of the family’s 1976 Land Cruiser. It was in a river bottom when 9-year-old Scott took the helm. “You can scratch it up on the bushes, roll-it or do anything you want, just don’t shift without the clutch!” Marc Sapers told his son Scott as they were going through the gears.
The transmission and transfer case were recently rebuilt. Scott started out with it in low range and first gear, which was kind of like driving a tractor and great for a first time driver to learn on. A few scratches and no rolling over, Scott got bit by the automotive bug.
Fast-forward to present day, an early Saturday morning at Donut Derelicts in Huntington Beach. Right in front of the donut shop was a pretty clean ’32 Ford Tudor. It had the ubiquitous 350 GM crate motor, yet we were stopped by the story and the three generations of father/son garage time that went into this history piece.
Marc stopped us and shared how this car was built as a father/son project. Intrigued, our interest forced him to continue to tell the story of how he an his son Scott took a perfectly good stock 1932 Ford Model B Tudor Sedan and turned it into the hot rod we see here, we just had to learn more.
After digging deeper we later learned that they did this complete buildup in the very same backyard garage where Marc’s father taught Marc how to wrench on cars in the 1950s. Over six decades later, that same garage spanned three generations of hot rodders to turn it this killer ’32 cruiser.
Although the Sapers’ family hadn’t taken on a complete build or task quite like this before, there was no hesitation. The project build took seven years while Scott was working full-time and Marc (recently retired) was taking care of his ailing mother. Some evenings, mostly weekends, they worked together, learned from one another, and bonded like a Father and Son rarely do these days.
They bought the car in 2005, and drove it all around for a couple of years. In 2007, they took it to the 75th Anniversary of the Deuce at the Petersen Museum. The following day, they took it to their patriarch’s original garage to start it’s transformation.
They raised the body (un-marred) from the frame with only a pair of 2×10 sticks of lumber and 4 jack stands. “Experts” told them after the fact that this isn’t possible but they had the photos to prove it. Sometimes naiveté has its benefits and teaches you new things as you go. They sold the frame right out from under the body with its running flathead and stock wheels. In the same fashion they dropped the body on a fully equipped TCI chassis which they had brush painted with POR 15.
They blended their complimentary styles as Marc was shooting for a traditional ‘50s hot rod and Scott was into more aggressive and modern features. This proves a great collaboration and more bonding not only with themselves but with their ancestral legacy.
Scott presented a gauge panel designed to fit in the original dash as a Fathers’ Day present to Marc. Another easily missed detail is the exhaust system. Marc requested a set of Sanderson headers without the downtube and cutout and there are 5-inch long glasspacks just inside the collector.
They have been such a hit that Sanderson now offers the very same setup. Another standout are the headlamps – a replica or an early design Guide light, notice the peak in the turn signal lens. Looking upward, the three deuces are connected with progressive linkage.
Scott wired the car completely in one-day with a Ron Francis wiring kit which turned out to be a life-saver as Scott finished it just in time before he and his wife had a scheduled trip to Hawaii. They got the car finished just in time for the 2012 George Barris Culver City Car Show before their trip.
This car is a driver. Built with purpose to be a family cruiser, and to share the bond of hot rod love through the generations. With independent front suspension and 4-link rear it’s ready for their next Father/Son adventure a trip from Santa Monica to Chicago along the Mother Road. All the while their father/grandfather Perce Sapers will be riding along each mile in their hearts and mind – this build was dedicated to their father/grandfather Perce Sapers, rest in peace.