Count Them In

July 28th, 2009

Count’s Kustoms Builds a ’32

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Photos by Matt Emery

The King played there, so why not a Count? The one I speak of is not Basie, but Koker…Danny Koker. He is the owner of Count’s Kustoms, and for those who like hot rods and custom motorcycles, Count’s Kustoms is one place in Las Vegas that’s a sure bet.


When one builds killer rides for other people, it gives them a unique opportunity to observe and evaluate the choices their customers have made about their desired vehicles. When Koker decided to build a radial ’32 Ford five-window coupe, he knew exactly what he wanted and why. Of course, it was simple: he wanted to go fast and look good doing it. Koker teamed up with his chief hot rod builder, George Krampetz, and the two set about making the car a reality, beginning with the frame.

Using stock ’32 Ford rails that have been step-boxed, the Count’s Kustoms crew added a solid I-beam axle equipped with 4-inch drop front spindles up front, and a Ford 9-inch “with Currie guts” that includes a posi unit and 3:73 gears out back. On both ends, it could be called the best of old and new, as the suspension consists of buggy springs and Bilstein shocks. This theme continues with the brakes, as front Wilwood six-piston disc brakes have been concealed inside Buick drums, while drums suffice for the rear. Adding the perfect look for the resto rod are the “Milner Specials” chrome steelie wheels, (front:15×6, rear:15×10), which have been shod with Coker tires in front, while a set of Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Redline’s adorn the rear.

With the engine Koker built for his ride, he will need all the help those MTs can offer. A pair of 500-cfm Edelbrock carbs feeds the 383ci Chevy engine via an Offenhauser intake manifold. Speaking of the upper end, a set of velocity stacks acts as the air cleaner, while Edelbrock finned valve covers provides the perfect look. There are some secrets inside the block. In fact, Koker says the camshaft is “top secret,” but notes that the Scat crankshaft and rods, Speed Pro pistons and Dart aluminum heads combine to create a streetable yet healthy 9:1 compression ratio. An MSD ignition provides the sparks, as the Sanderson Roadster headers and mufflers exit the spent fuel. Thanks to Proformance Unlimited of Ocean, N.J., the engine produces 500 hp.

Getting that power to the nine is done with a 700R-4 transmission that, thanks to The Transmission Shop in Las Vegas, Nev., has been equipped with a 2,800-RPM stall torque converter, and a So-Cal Speed trans cooler. Connecting the dots is Driveline Services (Las Vegas, Nev.) driveshaft.
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It was then time to transform the body into what Koker was looking for in a hot rod. First, the fenders hood and running boards were tossed, and the body dropped 3 ½ inches. A little massaging, and it was ready for the paint. Ryan Evans of Kaotic in Las Vegas applied the midnight black paint and added the killer red pinstripe spider webs. From the engine compartment to the rear deck, sweet red spider webs arch out of the corners. The black and red look is pure hot rod, and the results are great. Looking good can also work when you are trying to see, and Koker added ’32 Ford King Bee headlights and a pair of ’32 Ford teardrops to the rear.

If you liked the spider webs outside, you’ll love the interior. Sure, there are more pinstripe webs adorning the ’32 dash, but it’s the upholstery that catches the eye. Richard Ross of Count’s Kustoms used black gator to cover the Easyglide bench. He added red spider web stitching to accent the leather on the seats and the door panel, and used chain as the door pulls. As stated, the dash is a ’32, but it was smoothed and infused with a host of Auto Meter instruments. A drilled So-Cal Sprint Car steering wheel and a B&M Ratchet floor shifter keeps Koker connected to the car, while a Vintage Air air conditioning system keeps him from the Vegas heat. Entertainment is done with a JVC head unit that is pumped up with an Alpine amp. The system includes a CD/ DVD/MP3 player and a navigation system, (in case he gets lost cruisin’ the strip). The A/V system, along with the Painless Wiring kit, was also installed by Richard Ross.

Koker has owned over 50 cars and bikes, and is used to spending time and money on them, (this build took six months). Even with that, when asked how much he has put into the car, Koker replied, “I don’t want to know.” We just know that this fine ’32 Ford was time and money well spent.

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Equipped with 4-inch drop spindles, the straight axle and King Bee headlights only add to the iconic ’32 grille.

The fully complemented 383 Chevy engine produces 500 hp, plenty to propel the ’32 to dizzying speeds.

Looking like a backdrop from a Lugosi movie, the spider web pinstripes on firewall are the handiwork of Kaotic’s Ryan Evans.

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The web motif extends into the interior, as the alligator-covered seat and door panels feature red web stitching. Notice the cool chain door pulls.

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Ryan Evans added a sweet, and dare we say traditional, pinstripe design to the deck lid

Once the ’32 dash was smoothed, Koker immediately cut it full of holes to install the Auto Meter gauges and vents for the Vintage Air A/C system. The So-Cal steering wheel sits atop a chromed tilt column and the controls for the VA system; the B&M ratchet shifter and billet pedals are all within easy reach.

The Alpine amp is housed in the trunk, which also got the gator and red stitching treatment from Richard Ross.

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