This editions story is inspired by the ‘32 three window coupe belonging to Gene McPhee. His trophy winning beauty was painstakenly put together over a two year period and never fails to impress!
The Ford Motor Company was more than ready for some innovative developments in 1931. The country was beginning to pull out of the Great Depression and the time was right for change. While Henry worked on building a completely new chassis to carry the new flathead V8, Edsel spent an equal amount of time designing a body that would do the new running gear justice. Utilizing new sheet metal stamping equipment and techniques made more complex body panels and compound curves possible. The ‘32 windshield posts raked gracefully rearward, rounding gently as they made the transition to the roof. A beautifully rendered three-window coupe body, courtesy of the Murray Body Company, was added to the lineup as the Deluxe Coupe. The gas tank previously mounted in the cowl was moved to the extreme rear of the car, beneath the body, between the frame rails. The three inch longer wheelbase and new frame made the ‘32 Ford lower and longer than the Model A and lower profile 18” Kelsey Hayes wire wheels allowing a tire with taller sidewalls for better ride qualities.
Overall, the 1932 Ford was a very desirable automobile package offering power and style. In spite of several new car “gremlins” like oiling system failures and chronic overheating, people loved the styling and power. The flathead V8 was here to stay, and it would go on to greater heights over the next twenty years as the hot rodders modified it to their needs. As we approach the 75th anniversary of the 1932 Ford, we can’t help thinking that there could be no more fitting tribute to Edsel Ford than the enduring popularity of a little car so symbolic of the style and class that typified all of his automotive efforts.
For many of us, the significance of this anniversary may be momentarily overshadowed by the realization that like the 1932 Ford we are all getting older. Once we get past that we realize that unlike us, the “Deuce” only gets better. While it seems like only yesterday that the Beach Boys immortalized the ‘32 Ford in their classic “Little Deuce Coupe”, it was really 47 years ago. The “Deuce” was only 32 years old then barely an antique by today’s standards. As a side note, it was a newer car at that time than are the Hemi ‘Cudas, Shelby GT 350’s and 427 ‘Vettes cherished by the auction crowds today. Even then, the ‘32 Ford was the car that came to mind every time the term “hot rod” was mentioned. It had assumed that position decades earlier when it was deemed the most popular basis for a hot rod, edging out the ‘28-31 Model A’s respectively. In 1973 when George Lucas produced American Graffiti, the movie that asked “Where were you in ‘62?” he chose a chopped ‘32 five-window coupe as the car that would be driven by the film’s rebellious hot rodder, John Milner. It became the real star of the movie as far as hot rodders were concerned, and is likely one of the most imitated hot rods of all time. “Deuce” coupes, sedans and roadsters have been reconfigured as full-fendered resto rods, fenderless highboys, channeled lowboys, drag gassers and altereds, road racers, and salt flats speedsters. Many of today’s aftermarket street rod component manufacturers started out building items for ‘32 Fords. Indeed, the speed equipment industry would be much different if there’d never been a ‘32 Ford.
One rumor has it that there are more ‘32 Fords titled and on the road today than were ever built by Ford in 1932. Another holds that there are more “Deuces” registered in California alone than were built originally. Whether we believe one or both, it’s certainly true that no early Ford has enjoyed more replication than the “Deuce.” The bodies have been reproduced in fiberglass by a wealth of different companies, and in an equal number of degrees of quality. Roadsters came first, then coupes, sedans, Victorias and sedan deliveries. Today there are at least three companies building real steel replica ‘32 bodies and a complete line of body parts like fenders, hoods and running boards as well. At least one manufacturer offers a completely assembled steel roadster - minus engine and two companies build beautiful 3-window coupe bodies. Combining products from a few companies enables the modern hot rodder to build a completely new ‘32 Ford with his choice of traditional beam axle and transverse springs, front and rear, or independent front and coilover rear set-ups. Power for the new “Deuce” can run the gamut from mild flathead to EFI 600 inch hemi. The hot rod aftermarket can take a cue from the “Deuce.” As long as we can keep the needs of the ‘32 Ford and its owner in focus, the industry will remain healthy.