Ron Hite gets a smile on his face when he looks at his 1946 Ford coupe hot rod, and who wouldn’t?
The car is an amazing color. Some would say it’s fuchsia or maybe burgundy, or even magenta, but the truth is the color looks different depending upon the time of day and the light. The paint color is called “iris metallic” and was used on ’94 Ford pickups.
Hite said that when he first saw a photo of the car it looked pink. He resisted the idea of buying a “pink” car, but a friend who knew the guy who had rebuilt it talked him into taking a look, and so he did.
“It’s a great hot rod color,” Hite said.
Hite has owned the car for three years. It is part of a small collection that includes a 1988 two-door, soft-top Mercedes. The Mercedes, said Hite, is a “really” nice car. The Ford is the car he takes to Zesto.
The car has been totally redone to modern specs. The interior still has the original style of dashboard but with modern gauges. It also has a new steering wheel with an adjustable column, a new radio, air conditioner, power windows, seat belts and an automatic transmission.
The car has been lowered by the use of springs and wheels. It has a 351 Windsor engine. Had he maintained the integrity of the car it would have had an old flathead engine with 85 horsepower. The engine, Hite said, is bored out with a cam in it.
The only alterations on the body are the wing vents, and the front windshield has lost the chrome shield across the top. There is no front bumper, and the front grille has been painted to match the car. All of the badges have been taken off the car, too.
“It’s still a hot rod. It has a bouncy ride,” Hite said.
Ever since he was 16 he has been into buying and fixing up cars. His father bought cars and worked on them to keep them running. Hite’s first car was one he and his dad worked on together. In the ’60s he and a friend had a couple of Corvettes they used to drag-race together.
“But then he went in the Army, and I got married and that kind of stopped the racing,” Hite said.
After that he got into old original cars: a 1933 Buick, a 1939 Ford and a 1939 DeSoto. Then he got out of cars altogether for a while. His family and his job at Nabisco took up most of his time. About 10 years ago, when he was 62, he got interested again.
Hite said he’s not much into “trailer queens.” Those are the cars people haul to a show, unload, show them and then load them back up for the ride home. He prefers to drive his cars.
“I like nice cars, but they don’t have to be perfect,” Hite said.
His cars go into storage in November, and on March 1 they come out again.
Hite is a member of the Liberty Cruisers and said the club has 200 members club with about 50-60 active members. He is worried it’s a dying hobby. Most of the members are older, like him.
“I don’t know why that is. The younger kids are into the motocross but not so much into the older classic cars,” Hite said.
Keep your eyes open if you are in Huntington, Auburn or Decatur. Hite drives his car within a 100-mile radius of Fort Wayne.
Look for the fuzzy black dice hanging from the mirror. They are the original pair Hite had when he was 16.