Hot Rod Heaven



Photographs By Bob Capazzo

The Beach Boys helped win immortality for hot rods based on the legendary 1932 Ford two-door, and it’s Steve Memishian’s passion to make sure we never forget about these colorful road rockets.

By day, the Round Hill Road resident is a partner at the top-rated, New York–based growth-stock manager DSM Capital, the company he cofounded with Daniel Strickberger. Memishian has a distinguished Wall Street pedigree, having served as a senior vice president at Paine Webber and as a partner and portfolio manager at W.P. Stewart & Company, before departing in 2000 to found DSM.

At night and on weekends, however, you’re likely to find this Winchester, Massachusetts, native in the garage, which is currently occupied by two of the sweetest hot rods in the world: a 1934 Ford three-window coupe and a classic deuce coupe, in this case a 1932 five-window.

These are authentic 1930s Fords, not the fiberglass replicas commonly seen at car shows, and each (despite sober dark paint and very little body chrome) is a showpiece. The ’34 is a state-of-the-art modern street rod with many go-faster updates, including disc brakes and a General Motors 430-cubic-inch “crate” motor of 1970s design that can produce well over 400 horsepower. Not only can it keep up with today’s traffic, but it also could probably blow the doors off a BMW M3 in a stoplight derby. The 330-horsepower ’32 reflects an earlier era, with a ’66 Chevrolet engine and many period speed accessories, including ’60s J2 Oldsmobile carburetors, a Halibrand “Quick-Change” rear end, vintage “Twin Blue” Stewart Warner gauges and an ultra-rare Moon racing fuel tank.

When started, these cars produce a deep mechanical rumble out of their twin tailpipes. When they’re on the road, which happens quite frequently, they swivel heads all over Greenwich. “People want to know what year they are and who built them,” says Memishian, a dashing and youthful fifty-nine-year-old. “One very persistent lady wanted to know how she could buy one just like it for herself.”

The hot rod era that these Fords celebrate was relatively short-lived, with a heyday from the end of World War II until approximately 1955, when General Motors introduced an overhead-valve V-8 that changed the sport. In his Stamford warehouse, Memishian keeps a bright red ’29 Ford roadster that would bring tears to the eyes of any veteran of the California dry lakes where these cars raced against the clock in time trials. Sitting proudly on a 1932 frame, his roadster body is stripped to the basics, without top, hood or fenders. The car is powered by a twin-carb supercharged 1949 version of the period hot rod engine, a flathead Ford V-8. As Memishian explains, the flathead was Ford’s principal engine from 1932 to 1953 (an amazing run), and it was infinitely improvable with parts made by the independent operators that sprang up around Southern California, including Iskendarian cams and Edelbrock manifolds.

“The ’32 was the first Ford tooled after the Depression started,” says Memishian, “and it had to be much more compelling than the earlier Model As to bring back the customer. To hot rodders, it was the perfect canvas; they flipped over it. And these were high-volume cars, so that many of them reached the junkyard quickly and were available to the highly skilled mechanics who became the hot rod pioneers.”

In 2007, Ford will celebrate the seventy-fifth birthday of its little deuce. Larry Erickson, a chief designer at Ford and the man behind the new Mustang, describes it as “a landmark car, beginning a period of styling dominance for the company and, most significantly, offering the world’s first mass-produced V-8 engine.” He adds that it changed automotive history not only when it was introduced, but also years later when it played a pivotal role in the development of the hot rod. “These cast-off cars, built in backyards and small garages, performed far beyond their original capabilities and often rivaled the performance of the best in the world,” Erickson says. “Hot rods are a uniquely American form of automotive expression.”

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • SPLURGE Matches Scarf Donations for Cancer Patients

    2014.10.01
     @ SPLURGE

    SPLURGE and the Cancer Institute at Greenwich Hospital are partnering to bring comfort and encouragement to cancer patients.  From October...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    FLINN GALLERY Opening Reception 'IN FOCUS' Thursday October 30, 6 - 8pm Seven artists share their visions - Carolyn Conrad,...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Harvest Fair and Gift Show

    2014.11.01
     @ Second Congregational Church

    Event Will Include Hay Mazes, Games, Crafts, Food, Holiday Shopping The community is invited to a Harvest Fair and Gift Show on Saturday, Nov....

  • New Fitness Class: SalsaTone

    2014.11.01
     @ Latin Moves Dance Studio

    Starting November 1st ~ Every Saturday morning 10 to 11 AM Instructor: Melissa Lopez Start your weekend off right with this exciting cardio...

  • Lynne Scalo Design Opening

    2014.11.05

    Please join Lynne Scalo, Greenwich Magazine and athome Magazine to celebrate the Greenwich showroom opening of Lynne Scalo Design Cocktails...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

    2014.11.06
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Breast Cancer Alliance to Host Branching Out, Coming Together, Aspiring to a Cure 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show: November 6,...

  • Free Screening of Documentary ' Children of the Inquisition'

    2014.11.06
     @ Bush-Holley House

    Join filmmaker Joseph Lovett as he presents his documentary film and multi-platform project of personal exploration and...

  • P.A.L.S. 2nd Annual Soarin' Soiree~ November 7, 2014

    2014.11.07
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    You are invited to join our State Senator, L. Scott Frantz and our First Selectman, Peter J. Tesei, for an awe-inspiring evening to benefit Patient...

  • John Hardy Event

    2014.11.08
     @ Bloomingdale's

    John Hardy One of a kind. One at a time. Each by hand. Bloomingdale's is inviting YOU to meet the head designer Guy Bedarida as he presents...

  • Olivine Gabbro Opening

    2014.11.08

    Olivine Gabbro invites you to join them for their Opening Party! DJ | Cocktails | H'Orderves | Gift Bags Made to Measure Beautifully...

  • Meet Joshua Safran, Author of "Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid"

    2014.11.11
     @ YWCA Greenwich

    Meet the author of this powerful memoir. Joshua Safran is an author, attorney, occasional rabbi, and nationally recognized advocate for...

  • Markham Roberts: Decorating the Way I See It

    2014.11.13
     @ Belle Haven Club

    Join us as Interior Designer Markham Roberts shares coveted design insights, key to creating the perfect home. The program will include...


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