Drive!|April 2021
A car designed around an engine
Steve Barton’s passion for all things automotive runs deep, but there’s something inside of him that likes a twist. The Las Vegas resident is most interested when the vehicle has an extra special component that is rare, spectacular or unheard of; that’s when Barton is most pleased.
The man owns more than 30 vehicles. He has a stable of interesting Cadillacs and Corvettes, there’s a Lincoln concept car, a McLaren/ Cadillac LMP (Le Mans Prototype) racer, a 950-bhp twin-turbo Impala, the legendary Frankenstude, an SSR turned into a 1959 El Camino (complete with hardtop convertible), and a lot more. But what we’re looking at right now is this insane 1932 removable top roadster. You might want to sit down and get comfortable, because the tale we’re about to tell you has many twists and turns.

“I had always wanted a ’32,” Barton told us, “but, of course, I didn’t want just a nice ’32. I wanted something that was different, something extraordinary.” In 2000, during a chance encounter with famed drag racer and SEMA Hall of Fame member Joe Schubeck, the project began to take shape.

Schubeck had designed and built a 902-cu.-in. dohc engine decades ago that was supposed to take on the Hemis in AA/FD drag racing, however, before the project was ramped up, the NHRA decided to ban the engine. The project was dead in the water. Schubeck had built no more than 10 of the engines and most ended up in offshore racing boats. It didn’t take long for Barton’s conversation with Schubeck to turn to the unusual and rare engine. After some convincing (and $100,000) Schubeck parted with one of the two engines that were left and Barton had the first, and most important part of his extraordinary 1932.

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