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

  • 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...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

    2014.09.19
     @ Richards

  • 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...

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

    2014.09.20
     @ Richards

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...

  • Puttin’ On The Dog Festival

    2014.09.21
     @ Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

    Puttin’ On The Dog Festival Greenwich, Connecticut the place to be on September 21st for dogs and their owners...

  • Candy Fairies Book Reading

    2014.09.21
     @ Imagine Candy

    SCARSDALE, NY, Imagine Candy brings the acclaimed children's author Helen Perelman, the writer of the wickedly sweet Candy Fairies book...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • "Israel and the U.S."

    2014.09.22
     @ New Canaan Library

    The public is invited to attend a World Affairs Forum Great Decisions event featuring Seth Anziska, Columbia University. Mr. Anziska will speak...

  • Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese

    2014.09.24
     @ Meli-Melo

    Meet Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese & Take Home a Signed Copy of His New Book! Kevin is a holistic health practitioner,...

  • Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.25
     @ Milbrook Club

    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon will be held at Milbrook Club. Registration 11:30am; start at...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Aaron Henry Trunk Show & Personal Appearance

    2014.09.26
     @ Richards


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