Historic hot rods are no longer considered outlaws at the famed Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Beginning in 1997 and featured since in odd-numbered years, the event's hot rod class has included historic coupes (Bob and Dick Pierson's heavily hammered '34), road-racing rods (the ex-Duffy Livingston Eliminator T), classic open cars (such as the ex-Doane Spencer roadster), and early customs (Jack Calori's chopped and smoothed '36 Ford).

Fittingly, the recent show celebrated 75 years of the '32 Ford-the holy grail of hot rods-with a special class of nine distinguished examples. Five cars in the class had been named to the exclusive "Best Ever 75 Deuces" list and one that had been out of sight for half a century made its debut at Pebble. Four of the '32s on hand were new restorations, previously unseen for many years.

Selecting just nine '32s, all with storied pasts, was tricky this year because Pebble Beach has already featured the Bob McGee roadster (2nd in 1999), The Little Deuce Coupe of Chili Catallo and Andy Kassa's Cyclops Deuce in 2001, Ray Brown's roadster (3rd in 1997), Jim Khougaz's dry lakes racer, and many others. But since so many Deuces have been modified over the years, there was a wide field to fill this year's class.

The class prerequisites this year were: a '32 that had been a magazine feature and/or show car or racer, from the dry lakes, Bonneville, or had been on sanctioned dragstrips. Searching your memory, you'll probably recognize many of these cars, but here are a few things you may not know about them.

The Doyle Gammell Coupe
Doyle Gammell's three-window was actually built by Dick Bergren, who bought the car in '62, chopped the top 3.5 inches, laid back the windshield posts, filled the roof, and upgraded the 265-cid Chevy V-8 with Corvette fuel injection and a four-speed Hydra-Matic. Polished five-spokes with Inglewood slicks and a dragster-inspired Moon spun aluminum tank between the front framerails completed this coupe's badass good looks.

Bergren traded the Deuce to Gammell for a T-bucket because Bergren wanted to join the L.A. Roadsters. Gammell and his father (an engine builder at Moon Equipment Co.) installed a bored-out 283 Chevy, reupholstered the car in thin black pleats, and Ed Roth (Gammell's then-employer) artfully pinstriped it.

The next owner, Bob Porter, had Blair's Speed Shop cram an L88 427 and Corvette IRS in it, then Porter fell on hard times and the coupe was damaged in storage. Tom Schifflea bought it in '92, repainted it purple with red-orange flames and redid the interior in white tuck 'n' roll, as shown here. Current owner Bruce Meyer commissioned Bob Bauder to restore the coupe to its revered, early '60s Cordovan Brown guise.

The Berardini Roadster
In the early '50s, brothers Pat and Tony Berardini ran a muffler shop/used-car lot in L.A. They drag-raced a '29 roadster and a '32, both with 314-cid Flatheads that featured 5/8-inch stroked billet cranks, Edelbrock four-carb manifolds, Harrell heads, and an Isky 404 camshaft with radiused tappets. Their '32 was so successful with this hot Ed Winfield/Offy-inspired cam, it became known as the "404 Jr." Pat flame-painted the '32, and Von Dutch pinstriped it.

Virtually unbeatable at L.A.-area dragstrips, the Berardini brothers owned the Gas/Fuel Street Roadster Championships for a remarkable six years from 1950-55. Next, the '32 roadster went to Jeano LaCoste, in the San Francisco Bay Area, who continued to win with it, then installed a blown and injected Chrysler Hemi and set an A/Gas record of 11.61/136.36 at Half Moon Bay.

LaCoste sold the 404, sans engine, to Rudy Perez, who installed a Chevy V-8, painted it yellow, and drove it 185,000 miles, winning the Brizio Family Award at the 2003 GNRS. Roger Morrison then bought it and took it to Dave Crouse Custom Auto in Loveland, Colorado, who meticulously restored the '32 with its '50s-era black-and-white livery.

The Lloyd Bakan Coupe
Another hammered three-window, owned by 22-year-old Lloyd Bakan, of Eagle Rock, California, first appeared in Rod & Custom in November 1956. Painted powder blue with bobbed rear fenders and a built four-carb DeSoto Hemi by John Geraghty, it hit 103 mph in the quarter-mile. A year later, refinished in red-orange, with front and rear nerf bars, full rear fenders, and cycle fronts, it appeared on an unforgettable cover of Hot Rod (October 1957) flanked by a pair of bathing beauties.

In the early '60s, Richard Strock bought the coupe, dropped in a six-carb Lincoln V-8, and had Dean Jeffries apply gold scallops. Twenty years later, the coupe was in Washington and owned by Jim Donovan. Repainted maroon with a three-carb Flathead (later with a S.Co.T. blower), a Halibrand quick-change, and Moon discs, it appeared at antique drag races and on the street. With input from Bakan, Don Orosco's shop recently brought it back to its magazine-cover configuration.

The Tom Mcmullen Roadster
Tom McMullen's legendary roadster did it all, from the street to the drags, to the lakes and to Bonneville. The irrepressible McMullen wanted a traditional Deuce that would shake up the establishment. When this car appeared on the cover of Hot Rod in 1963, it blew people away. Pat Ganahl wrote: "There just weren't any fenderless, wildly flamed, mag-wheeled, GMC-supercharged early Ford roadsters like this on the street or anywhere else, really."

McMullen installed a Moon fuel tank, with a pressure pump, between the front framehorns to combat fuel starvation, and he attached a 'chute on the rear because it was an SCTA requirement for lakes racing. The mag wheels were lighter than steel wheels. And while the flames were reportedly an impulsive decision, they were done, as was the wild pinstriping, by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.

McMullen's story is the quintessential "live fast, die young" saga. This roadster was his signature, and it served as his everyday driver and his race car. Never shrinking from a challenge, McMullen raced illegally on the streets at the drop of a hat, as well as at sanctioned events from El Mirage and Bonneville to the Riverside drags.

McMullen didn't like to lose, so he was always improving this car. When it was obvious he'd gone as far as he could, he sold his roadster in 1969, eventually building even more powerful versions-and always searching for more style and speed.

"This car was copied and cloned several times," reported Ganahl, "twice by McMullen himself, while the original wasted away in storage for years." Decades later, the original did come up for sale, and it was recently restored by Roy Brizio for Jorge Zaragoza.

A hot rodder's hot rodder, McMullen was occasionally profane, unpredictable, always innovative, and never, ever satisfied with the commonplace. Like every great rodder, he always wanted to go faster, and lived that way right to the end. Sadly, he was killed with his wife, Deanna, in a crash while piloting his own plane in 1995.