Unrestored 1931 Ford “Cockroach” Hot Rod

Normally, a car referred to as a “cockroach” wouldn’t be considered high praise – but in the case of a vintage hot rod, it could be seen a compliment. This 1931 Ford roadster (or what remains of it) is a heavily modified custom that was built in the 1960s and retains much of its original details, including its 60-year-old paint job. Chromed, chopped, and channeled is one way to describe this in-period build, which is suspended over a modified 1932 Ford frame. These old hot rods always draw a crowd, and one that remains in original condition is perhaps even more desirable than a brand new build. The Ford is listed here on craigslist with an asking price of $50,000 or trade for similar 40-era customs.

The seller wisely includes photos of the original build in progress, which provides some historical context for how significant it is that this roadster has remained in in-period condition. It also ups the authenticity factor, confirming that the Ford was, indeed, conceived and constructed at a point in time when building custom creations like these could be done in your backyard and not on a staged Hollywood film set. The listing notes it was built in southern Illinois by Jim Cooper with help from Ed Lepold between 1959 and 1966. When it was originally painted, it was completed 78 coats of lacquer-based paint with gold highlights.

The seller is quick to point out that the roadster has been featured in magazine spreads over the years and a regular fixture on the hot rod show circuit. It’s easy to see why; it was practically made for sitting on a convention show floor with mirrors underneath. But this is also part of the reason he doesn’t drive it much anymore – it’s almost become purely a show car, which isn’t all that much fun to own if you’re constantly worried about someone dinging or sideswiping it. The custom touches are endless, from an all-chrome custom frame and chopped windshield to a diamond tuck interior and a Buick 425 Nailhead under the hood, and it was originally a four-speed later switched to a TH400 automatic.

The hot rod was left in storage for a spell, being re-released in 2006 and then gone through mechanically to return to road-going use. It has seen numerous features and magazine spreads ever since, and sure enough, if you Google 1931 Cockroach, it pops right up. To me, you have to be a car show guy to want to own a vehicle like this as it just begs to be on display. Plus, it’s a bit of a public service, too, and so many of the original details are preserved that it helps enthusiasts see how the original builder exercised their talents working with far less in the way of technology and materials than builders do today. It’s a conversation piece for certain, and one that deserves continued preservation.

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  1. Howard A Member

    I think we saw this before, something about the “78 coats of lacquer”, maybe more like 7-8 coats? 78 coats of paint would take months. You know, if I was born 25 years sooner, provided I made it through the war, I probably would have had a hotrod like this. Younger folks may not understand, and most hotrods didn’t look like this, but they embodied everything about a gearhead, and let everyone know you had one thing on your mind, fast, cheap cars, that would burn rubber for blocks,,, oh, and women too, I suppose. Ralph Mouth was truly onto something.

    • BlondeUXB Member

      Lacquer paint dries fast. Recoat time is short…

  2. Morley Member

    Absolutely want it, just because someone had the good sense to build it with the proper engine. the VERY BEST looking engine around

  3. Ted R. Pierson

    Aaannnnd… The listing was pulled by the author.

    • Mike W H

      Probably FINALLY a Silicon Valley guy took the bait. If I had CEO money, I’d buy this thing too. SF is the absolute wrong neighborhood for it. Is there still a cruise night in Alameda?

      I’d drive this like it was stolen, forget the shows.

  4. markp

    Makes me think of “World of Wheels Wheels Wheels…” show.


    Usually not a fan of the hot rodder scene but this one is nice.Nailed the dimensions and stance.

  6. 86_Vette_Convertible

    This is one that hits all the right buttons for me (almost). I’d like to see it with the 4 speed but I could live with an automatic. Ad is gone so likely is the car too.

  7. Tort Member

    Not much of a fan for the glass T and model A roadsters built in recent years but you can see old school all over this one. Great looking hot rod!

  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Been trying to sell it for awhile and for that kinda money he might be trying for a little while longer.

  9. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    This is a fair weather car. With those wide tires, no fenders and no roof you’re going to get wet if you hit any road water or rain. As a kid I learned. Quickly the value of a rear fender on my bike as I got a dirty wet stripe up and down my back. While it may look cool it’s not practical for rear use.
    God bless America

  10. Troy s

    The kind of car a bunch of guys with greased back hair white tee shirt and jeans maybe engineer boots labored over. Or seen in Custom and Rod magazine. It’s a time warp, stuck in it’s own time and only those who remember the real roots of hot rodding will truly enjoy this thirty two Ford. Worst thing would be someone buying it and then change it with the newest upgrades.

  11. Johnny

    Good looking hot rod. Only change I would make is-make it a HOT ROD. Put a 4 speed back in it. To me–it takes more the the car to make it a hot rod. It also takes a hot rodder who can change gears.

  12. Tooyoung4heyday Member

    Great looking period piece. I would have to drive it though, I can’t just let cars sit or be trailered. I’m in agreement with the 4 speed but could live with the auto in this car. My only gripe would be the front bumper. I wouldn’t change it now, but I wouldn’t have built the car with it. I think it distracts from that good looking front end.

  13. Stevieg Member

    Being a gear head and a history buff, this car here is absolutely the cats meow! I doubt I would fit in it, but I sure would try.

  14. Kenn

    Just once I’ld like to see comments by Howard A that don’t include at least one negative observation. 78 coats of paint is not unheard of, Howard’s lack of ambition or skill notwithstanding.

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