Just the Facts
Owner: Michael Purton
The mural on the wall of Michael Purton's large combination garage/party room depicts the famous Woodward Dream Cruise. Featured in the painting are all the old drive-ins that once lined the famous Detroit area street. Also featured are all five of the cars now housed in Michael's garage.
Traditional hot rod pinstriping over upholstery-matching paint is a great way to dress up
Michael grew up in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, where he still lives. Woodward Avenue cuts right through town. In the 1950s, engineers from the Big Three manufacturers used the famous street as their testing facility for the cars they were building. At night, hot rodders did the same. For Michael, who was a teenager at the time, Woodward was a playground. "It was the epicenter of drive-ins and cruising in those days," he says. "Every weekend was wild!"
His dad bought a new 1955 Chevy with a 265 small-block, four-barrel carb, and three-speed trans. "It smoked a lot of tires up and down Woodward," Michael remembers—and it turned him into a lifelong Chevy fan. Since those years, he's owned more 1955s, some 1957s, and a few Corvettes.
Five years ago, this Chevy guy realized that he wanted to build a Deuce roadster. That goes back to his Woodward days, too. "For a 15- or 16-year-old car nut, the 1932 Ford was it," Michael explains. Of course his 1932 had to have the right stuff: a Flathead, to keep it traditional; fenders, to distinguish it from all the highboys; and black paint, Michael's preference for many of his hot rods.
A column-mounted Sun tach perfectly suits the style of this period-influenced hot rod.
Michael turned to Jim Hitchcock in Lapeer, Michigan, for help with the build. The body is all steel and all new. The replica roadster is from Dearborn Deuce. Fenders, running boards, grille, and insert were manufactured by Brookville. The hood is Rootlieb. Michael has hood sides for the car, but has never installed them. Why cover that checkered firewall and cool-looking Flathead?
Jim Hitchcock shot the DuPont Jet Black two-stage basecoat, covered with clear, to give the roadster its mega-glossy finish. The black is contrasted by red highlights on the chassis. Red and silver pinstriping is simple along the beltline, and goes wild on the rearend housing.
The exterior appearance is completed by a set of aluminum Halibrand Sprint wheels with knock-off hubs measuring 15x8 in the rear and 15x6s in front. The '60s big 'n' little look is accomplished with polished-sidewall Smoothies from Diamond Back Classics.
A brand-new chassis was fabricated for the brand-new car, beginning with fully boxed Deuce 'rails from American Stamping Corporation. Transverse leaf springs and chrome tube shocks at both ends iron the wrinkles out of the ride. An 8-inch rearend, packed with 3.55:1 gears, spins the Moser axles. Ladder bars keep it situated. A Pete & Jake's I-beam axle drops the front 4 inches—and rides on a stainless steel parallel four-link kit, with a Panhard bar to restrict its movement. Pete & Jake's finned front disc brakes bring the roadster to a quick halt, with help from 10-inch rear drums.
Earlier '38-48 heads (identifiable by top center water outlets) were adapted to this '53 8
Since he's already got plenty of Chevy-powered cars, Michael loaded his Ford with a Flathead. Bill Jagenow at Brothers Custom Automotive built the 1953 8BA engine "from scratch," as Michael puts it, modifying it with polished 1938-48–style cylinder heads. To feed the Flathead in traditional style, a polished Edelbrock slingshot manifold is topped with a pair of Stromberg 97s, rebuilt by Uncle Max's 97 Express in Salt Lake City. A Roto Faze ignition provides spark and Fenton ceramic-coated headers route the gases. The C4 transmission was put together by Randy Carron at RC Trans and Gear.
The interior reflects the same period styling as the rest of the roadster, but at a level a little bit beyond most of the rods that cruised Woodward in the 1950s. Classic Instruments fill the '40 dash and an authentic 1937 Ford banjo wheel tops an ididit column. Interior designer Ron Miotto used salsa red leather with white stitching to cover a Glide Engineering bench seat. Michael installed an iPod compatible sound system with Pioneer speakers, but admits, "I can't really hear the stereo when I have my foot in it!"
The roadster, nicknamed "Motor City Deuce," rolled into Detroit's Cobo Hall to compete in the 2012 Detroit Autorama. That's a show Michael had attended since the 1950s, but it was his first time as a participant. He's had his 1932 in a few other shows since then, but mostly uses the car to cruise Woodward Avenue, still his playground. The rest of the time, the roadster is housed in the five-car party garage, where it shares space with Michael's Chevys. They all seem to be getting along, he says, although the Chevys don't like that the Deuce gets the premier parking space.