This is nothing new. We don't mean the '32. It's only been finished for a year—so that's new. How about the many old-time styles that were seamlessly combined in one package? That's pretty fresh, too. But seeing a cool, new, old-timey hot rod from enthusiast Sidney Allen gracing the pages of a hot rodding magazine? Hey, that's nothing new!
Sidney was a high school kid the first time. His Deuce three-window coupe, powered by a Cadillac with three two-barrels, was getting some attention around Roswell, New Mexico—on the street and at the local dragstrip. But when the 13-second '32 won the B/Gas class at the NHRA Regionals in Roswell, a photographer from Hot Rod magazine happened to be pointing his camera, and Sidney got his first bit of nationwide attention.
The whole idea for the coupe started as a place to mount a hot-rodded 390 Cadillac. A 3x2
Today, Sidney has an enviable collection of cool rods. That coupe, now packed with a high-performance Chevy small-block, is part of that collection.
A few years ago, he decided to build another Cadillac-powered Deuce three-window to commemorate that first '32. "We can't go back, but we can have fun," is how Sidney explains it.
The project started 10 years ago with a '59 390 engine, a pair of Halibrand front wheels, and the intention of using them someday in a '32. Several years later, a suitable three-window turned up in Denver. It was fairly complete and had never been hot-rodded. Sidney bought the body and frame and let the seller keep the running gear.
He turned to his friend, rod builder Tommy Walsh from Danville, California, for help with the buildup. Their partnership has resulted in some amazing cars in the past, and it did this time too. Together they created a finished result that blends a variety of influences—hot rod, sports car, drag car—into a beautiful traditional car.
The Cadillac engine was the starting point for the entire project, "the original spark" as Sidney puts it. He says it's his favorite part of the car. The '59 390 was balanced and blueprinted, and assembled by Walsh. The heads are from a '62 390 (the final year of the series started in 1949), and wear Offenhauser valve covers. The 3x2 intake manifold with triple Rochester carbs was a factory option for the Eldorado in 1959 and 1960. A PerTronix ignition provides fire and the stock exhaust manifold and stainless steel pipes carry away the gases.
A Toploader four-speed was the Ford transmission of choice for hot rodders in the '60s, so Sidney had a custom adapter machined to fit a '65 unit—with a McLeod Racing clutch—to the 390.
Deuce coupes have been subjected to every form of exterior modification imaginable, but we don't see a spot on Sidney's full-fendered three-window that would benefit by being cut up. Rear fender louvers, King Bee headlights, and a pair of '41-48 Chevy taillights are the most radical mods made to the body. One glance down the side of the car reveals the quality of the bodywork, performed by Marcos Garcia at Lucky 7 Customs in Antioch. Garcia followed up with the paintjob, using DuPont products. Did you think it was black? In the light, it's easier to see that it's really very dark blue—Sidney remembers it as "Tuxedo Blue" from the early days. The cream paint on the firewall is another old-style touch.
Before he had the car, Sidney had the front wheels. He found the aluminum Halibrands in Bakersfield about 10 years ago and bought them in anticipation of someday using them on a traditional '32 coupe. The 15x4 small-window kidney bean wheels are matched with a pair of 16x7s at the rear. Michelin rubber is mounted all around.
Braking is handled by 12-inch Lincoln drum brakes at each wheel. The front brakes incorporate removable screen air scoops welded to the backing plates, like you'd see on old road racers. All plumbing is stainless hard line with aircraft-style fittings and hoses.
Those rear wheels are mounted on Currie axles with '40 Ford housings. They're kept rolling by a Halibrand Champ quick-change. The limited-slip differential turns 3.0:1 gears. Rear ladder bars, a Panhard bar, Pete & Jake's covered tube shocks, and Model A springs provide suspension while keeping things traditional. At the other end, split wishbones support a dropped I-beam with filled ends, with Model A transverse springs and Pete & Jake's shocks mounted here as well. Walsh sturdied the original '32 frame with Model A crossmembers in the front and rear and a tubular crossmember in the center.
Adding a '40 dash and insert was a popular modification 40 or 50 years ago. A set of '40 Ford gauges was restored to working order. A mechanical Sun tach mounted on top of the dash and the underdash oil and water gauges from Stewart-Warner are also throwbacks to that era. Walsh took care of all the wiring. A '40 steering wheel is one more timeless choice for rods.
When choosing the look of the upholstery, Sidney took a departure from early hot rod styling. He asked interior designer Sid Chavers in Santa Clara, California, to recreate the appearance of a vintage sports car racing interior from the '50s or '60s. Instead of narrow rolls and pleats, the leather on the modified stock seat is stitched with a wider pattern. The carpeting is German square weave.
What do you do when you've built the hot rod you've been planning for years and thinking about for decades? If you're Sidney, you do two things. You enjoy the heck out of it, and you start thinking about the next cool hot rod.
Just the Facts
Model: Three-Window Coupe
Owner: Sidney Allen