Deuce Coupe With Vintage Vibes

The 1932 Ford Three-Window Highboy Coupe Brings Back Dry Lakes Memories

By Brian Brennan   –   Photography By John Jackson

Regardless of your age, if you are into old-timey hot rods then you know of and understand the look of many of the dry lakes–era hot rods. Dale Grau of Minnesota has been around modified cars for many decades and appreciates the hot rods of the dry lakes era. Presented on these pages is his Brookville Roadster–bodied 1932 Ford three-window highboy coupe, one of 19 Deuce coupe hot rods he owns. He built this one to honor the classic dry lakes imagery as well as to drive and enjoy.

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03 Custom built hot rod with 1929 Dodge side cowl vents by Lenksters Custom Garage

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Dale enjoyed working with Darin Lenk of Lenksters Custom Garage out of St. Cloud, Minnesota, for the “added” expertise required to build a hot rod to this level of creativity, workmanship, and fit and finish. While the Deuce coupe does look like all things old-timey, its cornerstone—the body and chassis—is “fresh.” For instance, the body is a Brookville Roadster three-window coupe that features a 4-inch top chop (with an original cut down windshield) and a pair of 1929 Dodge side cowl vents all handled by Lenk of LCG. Also, a Brookville decklid with 116 louvers (yes, we counted), and a Snap-on top insert by Rapid Upholstery, are visible. Adding to the sheetmetal presentation is the original four-panel hood and grille shell with the shell featuring a “Speed Queen” emblem. The emblem came from an old washing machine and since his wife Elvis (yes you read that correctly) is nicknamed “Queen” it wasn’t much of a leap to add the word “Speed”—hence, Speed Queen. Much of the metalwork was handled by Lenk of LCG, the bodywork was handled by Scot Lardy, and from here the Deuce coupe was painted in Sikkens Winterleaf Brown by Autobody 2000. The graphics include “Speed Queen Deluxe” on the top hood panels, “Lenksters Custom Garage” script on the rear quarter-panels, and “428” numbers on the doors by Cliff Anderson of Cliff Anderson Design. The lighting is a combination of body-mounted 1947 Kaiser taillights and Guide headlights attached to a custom dropped headlight bar that is installed on frame-mounted stands. Nestled between the headlights is a vintage EELCO 2-gallon spun aluminum gas tank that now serves as a radiator overflow, as the “real” Lenk-fabricated gas tank is trunk mounted.

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10 Vintage black wrinkle finish cast aluminum valve covers by PML

All this reverence to vintage hot rodding rests on additional modern metal with the frame based on freshly minted American Stamping frame rails that were assembled by Rjays Speed Shop (Butler, Missouri). While at Rjays the ’rails received the obligatory hot rod mods via boxing plates, tubular crossmembers, and a Model A rear crossmember. The bobbed and pinched ’rails were more Lenk of LCG handiwork.

12 American Stamping frame rails assembled by Rjays Speed Shop

Read More: Head Turning Chevy 210 Cruiser

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The next stop was LCG where Lenk drilled the SO-CAL Speed Shop 4-inch drop axle and then fit it with stock 1932 spindles. The braking system consists of 1939 Lincoln brakes in front, Ford drums in the back, and then operated by a firewall-mounted ’60 Chevy truck master cylinder and Rjays pedal assembly. Also added were MG sporty car front lever action shocks, Vega steering with a Speedway Motors column, and in back Model A buggy spring working with, once more, MG lever action shocks, and a V8 Winters quick-change rear end running a final gear of 3.78. To this, a T5 five speed manual transmission, with an Alan Johnson shifter, backs up to the small block Chevy that runs along at a “peaceful” 1,800 rpm at 75 mph.

15 Edelbrock four barrel carburetor under the stock air cleaner

You will find a full set of Ford wire wheels but with a little bit of a mix-and-match grouping. In front, you will see 1935 Ford 16-inch wires while in back you will find 1933 Ford 17-inch wires that were widened several inches by Lenk of LCG. Wrapped around the vintage wires are the Coker-produced Excelsior Stahl radial rubber by way of Speedway Motors; 4.50×16 and 7.50×17, respectively.

17 period correct classic look for this deuce coupe

Inside there is plenty to look at, beginning with a pair of Paul Wright (Texas) aluminum custom bucket seats. From here the aluminum buckets showcase elk leather stitched in greenish-brown cushions by Rapid Upholstery with rubber floor mats. The aluminum door and kick panels display more of Lenk’s artistry. The factory stock dash is now fitted with a Phoenix Machine (Wisconsin) custom gauge insert. From here Auto Meter‘s six-pack of instruments fills the holes, as do a pair of pull-knobs to operate the headlights; beneath the dash is a subpanel that houses all the operational switches as well as the horn button. Other noteworthy interior appointments include the Speedway Motors steering column that is dash-mounted with a drop featuring more of Dale’s handiwork. There is also an auxiliary turn-signal switch added to the column along with a four-spoke custom steering wheel by Lenk. Dale handled the wiring, bringing all the electrics to life.

19 custom interior of the deuce coupe matches the exterior

Read More: Timeless 1955 Ford Fairlane Victoria

Although not vintage by the hot rod’s depicted era, the small block Chevy V8 is considered vintage given it’s an 1987 iron block sporting a mild 0.030-inch overbore. The small block was built at Magnum Engines. The SBC is mounted to the frame with a pair of very cool “claw” engine mount pads that come through the efforts of Jokerr Fabrication (Indiana). The vintage, black, wrinkle-finish, cast-aluminum valve covers come by way of PML and reside on top of the iron heads that also feature factory ram’s-horn exhaust. The intake is an early Edelbrock as noted by the oil fill tube; note the sock, an old trick to catch blowby that would otherwise “gunk up” the engine compartment. The Edelbrock four-barrel carburetor rests under the early stock air cleaner and has its gas lit by an electronic PerTronix ignition system running through a modern alternator. The battery is trunk-mounted and rests in its own fabricated aluminum box adjacent to the gas tank. All the aluminum trunk effort is more of Lenk’s accomplishments. The remainder of the exhaust system, which includes the glasspack mufflers, was custom fabricated by Fat Joe Racing.

21 Elk leather stitched cushions on the aluminum bucket seats

Oh, in closing, if you are wondering why the number “428” is on the door, it’s Dale’s birthday, April 28. Now you know the “rest of the story.” MR

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of That Old-Time Feelin’.

mr march 2024

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