There can be no doubt that the most revered, sought after, lusted over, and just plain desired street rod in our hobby is the '32 Ford. Now, it can be full-fendered or a highboy version of a roadster, coupe (three- or five-window), cabriolet, sedan, Vicky, phaeton, or even one of the venerable trucks. But the fact remains: Rodders love the Deuce.
Everything that I have ever read or been told tells me that the '32 Ford may have been a stopgap model from Ford Motor Company in its time, but today is its time. At every outdoor rodding event I've been to I have seen an ample representation of the Deuce. Granted, there are plenty of other makes and models and, of course, there are plenty of other Fords. In the '70s the Model A and even the old Model T enjoyed unbridled successes. Today the Model 40 (1933-34) is of particular interest and has enjoyed this attention for the past decade. But the fact remains, the '32 Ford is the street rod among street rods.
And then it dawned on me... (Watch the comments!) Why is the Deuce so popular? Because there isn't an easier piece of street rod material to manipulate in the world than a Deuce--it doesn't need any changes. (Other than the '40 Ford coupe.) Let's face it, if you want to make a good-looking street rod and you are short on expertise, imagination, or budget, get yourself a '32. At this point some of you are probably jumping out of your bark-o-lounger, TV remote flying, and Moon Pie crushed within your manly grasp but, face the facts, "What do you really need to do to a Deuce?" Nothing. Except maybe take the fenders off. Again, how difficult is it to remove a set of fenders and running boards? It's not!
Yep, the '32 Ford is without question the most beautiful piece of rodding material out there, but if you must have a fat-fendered rod then I might side with the '40 Ford coupe. About the only thing you can do to a '40 Ford coupe to enhance its appearance is to fill in the needless side quarter-windows. Who needs them? What purpose do they serve? See, that's about the only modification the '40 needs. I can hear the gnashing of teeth right about now. I can also see the incoming hate mail, but that's the fun of having the last word.
There have been some incredible Deuces built over the years. Fred Warren and George Lange are two owners that come to mind who have enjoyed tremendous success with their efforts (both having won the prestigious America's Most Beautiful Roadster award from the Grand National Roadster Show). Fred has his shocking green fenderless roadster based on a Kugel-designed car, while George's full-fendered beauty came out of Alloway's Hot Rod Shop. Just this year the Deuce highboy coupe of George Poteet stopped the rodding world in its tire marks with its incredible presentation and the winning of the coveted Goodguys Rod & Custom Association's Street Rod of the Year award. And who can forget the Deuce highboy cabriolet of Barry Lobeck as it took home the STREET RODDER Street Rod of the Year award? All of these Deuce's are outstanding examples of how one can advance the basic design of the '32 Ford.
Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Lauren looked pretty good as they came from the "factory" and so does the Deuce. But, if you feel the need to tinker, you might as well start with automotive perfection. But don't tinker for the sake of tinkering, step up and go for the "gold." In the meantime, I am just as happy to see a clean-looking gennie Deuce with just a touch of rodding influence.
So, what have we learned from this editorial? Rodders who build Deuces and maybe the '40 Ford coupe know a good thing when they see it. I just wish I had one or the other. Well, actually I wish I had both.