Just the Facts

Year: 1932

Make: Ford

Model: Highboy Roadster

Owner: Richard Varner

State: California

The iconic hot rod is often recognized as the '32 Ford. On every hot rodder's bucket list is any fashion of roadster, coupe, or sedan as long as it carries the Deuce identifier. Richard Varner of Southern California is no stranger to hot rods but his background as a motorcycle collector, restorer, and cofounder of Champions Moto isn't as far of a stretch as one might imagine.

Richard is well versed on the subject of SO-CAL Speed Shop hot rod faire, originated by Alex Xydias and currently under the watchful eye of Pete Chapouris. Champions Moto and SO-CAL have collaborated on a limited edition of 20 British-style bikes. The SO-CAL Miler is a 355-pound bike powered by an 865cc Triumph Bonneville Twin that produces 78 hp and 55 lb-ft of rear-wheel torque. The bike features a Champions Moto gas tank, tail section, side panels, and front number plate with twin headlights handcrafted from aluminum. Well, there's the Varner and SO-CAL connection.

Now the story gets really interesting as Ford Motor Company board member and the proclaimed "Godfather" of Ford Racing Edsel B. Ford II and Detroit Street Rods' President and Cofounder Robert Smith are introduced to the equation. Chapouris learned that Ford wanted the SCSS belly tank (owned by Bruce Meyer), the 9-foot AMBR trophy, and the 2012 AMBR-winning Indy Speedster (owned by Bill Lindig) for the Ford Motor Company 2012 SEMA show booth. But Ford wanted something extra-a Ford in a Ford hot rod. Chapouris noted they didn't have the time to meet the required deadline. A fortuitous event allowed Chapouris and Smith to meet and realize between the two the project could happen.

Presented is the Deuce highboy based on a Dearborn Deuce convertible body with retractable soft top and roll-up door glass. The chassis is the latest offering from SCSS in the New Traditionalist showcasing their line of forged steel chassis components. The power comes from the latest industry-stopping Ford Coyote 5.0L V-8. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Any hot rodder is well-aware of the SO-CAL Speed Shop red and white colors in the distinctive scallop pattern. Don't try and adjust the color dial on the following pages as you are correct in viewing the PPG Pearl Gold and white. This is the color sprayed on the original Xydias belly tank racer. (The red and white came later and is an interesting sidebar for a later date.) In so far as the highboy is a tribute to the 80th anniversary of the Deuce, a bit of a celebration of Xydias' 90th birthday, the 65th anniversary of SCSS, and to commemorate the limited edition (10) of the Coyote 5.0 roadster, a gold and white color scheme was resurrected.

While the Dearborn Deuce highboy body rests on an SCSS new Traditionalist chassis the construction occurred at Detroit Street Rods under Smith's eye. DSR is housed in the facilities of Alternative Automotive Technologies (ATT) in Troy Michigan, which is the former plant where the Saleen Mustang and later the Ford GT were produced, 2005-06. It was also here the roadster was sprayed in the eye-appealing gold and white.

The chassis features C-channel 'rails anchored in back with a popular "round-back" Ford 9-inch rearend outfitted with Torino large axle bearings, 31-spline axles, and 4.30 gears run through a Truetrac limited-slip differential. The coilover shocks are the SCSS gas-filled Speedshocks. Taking advantage of the stout gearing is the TREMEC T56 Magnum six-speed; neatly packaged to the Coyote V-8 as it would be in a new Mustang. A modified Lokar double-bend shifter (topped with a Champions Moto ball) is used to fit the bench seat; other Lokar goodies include the brake and clutch pedal pads as well as the drive-by-wire throttle. Corner jewelry comes in the form of SCSS Hot Rod wheels with knock-off hubs, and wrapped with Excelsior Stahl Sport Radials from Coker Tire that measure 550R16 front and 750R16 in the rear.

In front is the SCSS chromed and drilled forged I-beam axle, hairpin radius rods, chromed spring with reversed eyes, polished stainless steel perches and kingpins, and chromed "shorty" tube shocks. The signature appointment on the frontend is the SCSS Buick-style drum brakes with custom Wilwood disc calipers nestled in between. Steering is the venerable Vega-style box.

The "soul" of any hot rod is its motor. There's a reason why the highboy is referred to as the Coyote 5.0; its namesake provides the basis for ample horsepower. While available in several power ratings this Coyote received a boost from a Ford Racing supercharger and now pumps out 624 hp at 9 pounds of boost. Other engine appointments include the radiator, electric fan, and intercooler from AutoRad LLC.

The interior is based on a bench with flip-forward seat back exposing additional storage space. Initial interior effort was accomplished at Shelby Trim in Michigan. After the SEMA show Gabe Lopez reworked the Ultraleather-covered seat and other interior components to accommodate Varner's 6-foot 2-inch frame. Underneath the plush brown carpeting you will find the flooring covered in Dynamat. The '32 dash houses an engine-turned insert that supports a complement of SO-CAL signature gauges. Other interior necessities include the LimeWorks solid hot rod column with a 16-inch '40 Ford steering wheel. Located on a secondary panel beneath the dash are the car's ignition, headlight and wiper switches, along with the Vintage Air A/C and heater controls.

The body is based on a Dearborn Deuce, which came into the hot rod hobby known for the first retractable soft top and roll-up door glass, making it a convertible with the look of a roadster. A four-piece hood complete with louvers and a telltale "blister" to accommodate the width of the Coyote V-8 is visible along with a grille shell featuring an SCSS polished insert. Lighting comes by way of KSS for the headlights while the LED taillights are by way of Technostalgia. Other amenities include the dual-windshield wiper from Specialty Power Windows, swan-neck mirrors from SCSS, front and rear SCSS spreader bars, and a Bob Drake Reproductions '32 gas tank. All assembled under the watchful eye of Smith of DSR.

Just about the time you think you are looking at another "Deuce" you realize there's always enough that can be done to personalize what many hot rodders believe to be Henry's finest effort.