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1932 Ford three-window coupe project Last updated on September 28, 2013

On this page:
The concept
The current status
The interior

On other pages:
1932 Ford roadster project
Small block Chevy engine project
Big block Chevy engine projects
Our garage and workshop
The magnesium wheels

Some related pages on Roadsters.com:
The 1932 Ford — the Deuce
Big block Chevy engines
Classic hot rod parts for sale
Classic racing wheels
Classic Stewart Warner gauges
Early Ford parts
Hot rods
Land speed record racing
Nostalgia drag racing
Speed equipment directory
Dave Mann's coupe

The concept

Bob Elston's coupe

Here's a glance at where we're going. The coupe shown above, built back in 1964 and still owned by Russell DeSalvo, looks a lot like what I want to end up with. (There's an article about Russell's car on another page).

Restored original sheet metal along with wheels, tires, and stance are all you need to get a Deuce looking great.

The goal here is something comfortable and reliable. When it's finished, the coupe will be a well-detailed, full-fendered resto-rod with lots of neat old parts.

Other than replacing the floor that was cut out long before I bought it, and mounting a pair of original 1948 Chevy taillights below the trunk lid, the body will be restored to the way it was originally built. On this car, there's absolutely no need for a chopped top, hidden door hinges, a filled cowl vent, or a filled roof. Besides, those things make original cars look like the plastic ones.

These cars have great lines. The more I work on this car, the more appreciation I have for what it was.

With its unique Murray body, the 1932 Ford three-window coupe is an outstanding design. Many of the body parts don't interchange with other Deuce bodies. It's also a very rare car. There were only 22,148 of them built, compared to 51,794 five-window coupes, and 124,101 Tudor sedans.

The current status

Dave Mann's coupe

Dave Mann's coupe

The frame is ready to be welded together, and we're still working on some of the small parts for the car, getting ready to put the chassis together. Currently, all of the chassis parts are being polished to get them ready for assembly. The rear fenders arrived back in April of 2007 and are ready to be metal-finished. New pictures are added to this page whenever there's something new.

The body is now sitting in a carpeted area of the shop, up on jack stands, at about the rake it will have when it's on the road, with the hood and grille clamped in place.

Dave Mann's coupe

Here's the seat that I bought from Mike Mitchell in Santee, California in January of 2009. It came out of his cherry original Deuce three-window.

The coupe will have a full set of original fenders. I've found and bought four good left front fenders and one good right front, and a decent pair of back fenders.

Back in the fall of 2003, I spent some time working on the body. The first priority was to remove all of the rust. I sprayed the outside of the body with Gibbs Brand and then let it sit for a couple of days to penetrate into the steel, especially where there was rust. I then sanded the entire outside of the body with a D/A sander and then went over it again with coarse Scotch-Brite. That was followed by another coat of Gibbs Brand to protect the bare sheet metal from fingerprints and rust. Overall, the body is in great shape. It's now ready to be metal-finished.

Halibrand 15 by 8

The more exotic wheels for the coupe are Halibrand magnesium 15 by 8 and 15 by 4 1/2 Sprint that I've cleaned, sanded, and given a brushed finish.

While magnesium wheels aren't considered practical for a street car, Gibbs Brand keeps them looking good without oxidizing.

The rears are five-inch Olds bolt pattern and the fronts are 4 3/4 Chevy.

Firestone 8.20 by 15 I have also refinished a set of four original aluminum American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels with the same bolt patterns that can be interchanged with the Halibrands.

Firestone 8.20 by 15 The new Firestone 8.20 by 15 pie-crust slicks are DOT-approved, and look pretty good.
Dave Mann's coupe

Here's another shot, with the 327 and some 1960s Torq-Thrust D front wheels (15 by 6s that were narrowed to 4 1/2s) and 15 by 8 1/2 1960s Torq-Thrusts on the back. The dog is a lot happier with the Torq-Thrusts.

Dave Mann's coupe

With all of the body filler removed, there's some metal-finishing work to be done. This picture barely shows the roof insert, which still has all of the original wood and wire intact.

Dave Mann's coupe

Here's the coupe with the '57-'64 Olds rear end. This is one of several Olds rear ends that I bought and cleaned up. First, I cleaned the housing and then had it sandblasted. Then I went over the housing with a three-inch, 80-grit sanding disc in a die grinder, working out all of the pits. More work with 80-grit followed, this time with a five-inch disc in a D/A sander. From there, it was just a matter of sanding out the small scratches with the D/A.

Dave Mann's coupe

Here's another shot of the Olds rear end. As it sits now, most of it has been sanded up to 800-grit. So far, the total time I spent on this housing is two evenings.

1932 Ford floor This car must have been channeled at one point, because the entire floor had been cut out of the car. Since the original subrails were left intact and are in good shape, installing a new floor will be straightforward. This one is ready to be welded in place. It was made in one piece, cut with a laser, and measures just over eight feet long.

One of the things you learn from building an original Deuce three-window from scratch, without some of the pieces to the puzzle, is how hard it can be to find good original parts. Sometimes you don't even know what to look for, since Ford used several different versions of some of their parts. When you find cherry examples of them (parts that are taken for granted on later and more-common cars), you must be having a good day.

1932 Ford coupe trim Here's the one A-pillar trim piece I have. I still need one for the driver's side, so if you know of an original one that's available, please let know.

Both of the door window moldings are in bare metal, ready for paint or plating. An-equally perfect rear window molding, which I bought complete with its original maroon paint, has also been sanded and polished.

Some of the original 1932 Ford parts we bought that aren't shown here include two very good sets of running boards, an NORS pair of running board covers, two sets of running board brackets, a repairable splash apron, a pair of the correct splash apron bolts, several V-8 headlight bars, a V-8 emblem for the headlight bar, a set of NOS headlight bar bolts, a set of NOS bumper bolts, and two sets of rear frame horn covers in nice shape.

Big block Chevy

327 Chevy block and heads The coupe engine is is built around a Chevy 427 tall-deck truck block. It's described in detail on another page.

When the chassis goes together, it will be set up to accept the big block Chevy, leaving lots of room in case I decide to use my 327 Chevy engine.

Restored grille The grilles that have been restored for the coupe and roadster are identical. The grille shells have been metal-finished, and the grille inserts and Ford emblems have been restored.

1932 Ford radiator cap After finding this original radiator cap, I used a bead blaster to remove what remained of its pitted plating.

What you see here is the result of going over it with abrasives and then some metal polish.

25-louver hood sides The hood is made up from pieces that came from two sources. In May of 2002, after my twisting his arm a few times, Jim Cameron in Oregon agreed to sell me his only pair of the rare and cherry 25-louver hood sides for only $150. Since then, whenever our paths cross, I shake his hand.

The hood's top panels and the headlights came from here in Arizona, thanks to Bonneville racer Chauvin Emmons, the man who back in the early Seventies designed and hand-machined the world's first billet aluminum cylinder heads for Top Fuel cars.

Back in 1999, Chauvin brought these parts to the Bonneville Salt Flats for me to pick up.

The original gas tank came from a restorer in Montana, and has since been block sanded to reveal the few low spots. Before long it will be hot tanked and then primed. The hood will also be completely block sanded and primed, but the paint can wait until after everything has been mocked up and fitted.

1932 Ford firewall This 1932 Ford firewall was in very good shape when I bought it from Bob Elston in Oregon, who had sent it out to be chemically stripped three months earlier.

I have since removed most of the rust spots that formed after it was stripped, and then sprayed it with Gibbs Brand to preserve it.

This picture, taken in March of 2006, shows what it looks like, still in bare metal, after having been protected by Gibbs Brand for three years.
1932 Ford headlight bar This dropped headlight bar came with the coupe.
Polished 1932 Ford headlight bar Here's one of the original headlight bars that I've started polishing, shown the way it looks best, in bare metal.

We also dropped another headlight bar in a unique way, and then we'll try all three of them on the car.
1932 Ford bumpers So far I've bought five original 1932 Ford passenger car bumpers, and will use the best of them.

Two of these bumpers came from a swap meet here in Arizona, where I bought the pair of them in rough shape for $20.

After some straightening, grinding, and sanding, they're looking a lot better.
Polished 1932 Ford axle

The dropped and polished front axles for the coupe and the roadster are identical. I bought five original '32 axles that showed up on eBay, and kept the two that were the best candidates for polishing using fine abrasives. First, I blocked them out and did some preliminary shaping. A lot of grinding and what I call precision polishing came next, with the result being what you see here. It feels great when you stop.
1932 Ford wishbone The axle will be used with an original '32 wishbone that I've split, filled, sanded and completely polished.

To get two wishbones and two axles for each of my '32 projects, I bought five '32 axles and four '32 wishbones. From them I selected the two axles and wishbones that were the best candidates for sanding and polishing.
1948 Chevy taillights These original '48 Chevy taillights were found at the Portland Swap Meet in 2002.

After I bought them, the seller told me that he had taken them off his Deuce coupe that had run around southern California in the 1950s.

The interior

1932 Ford coupe dash

1932 Ford coupe dash
When I bought the body from Bill Blumberg, the dash didn't come with it. Seeing how expensive the original three-window dashes are led me to come up with an alternative that would also have room for more gauges.

The dash that's shown mounted in the coupe was made in Sweden. This dash is for a roadster, so a new top will have to be fabricated and installed. The flat roadster dash provides room for all the gauges you could want to use.

After that, in August of 2005, I heard back from the man who sold me the car. He said he had finally found the original dash that came with the body. A previous owner had cut the center out of it, and made a hardwood insert that covered it.

The steel surrounding the center of the dash is untouched, and again remembering what three-window dashes are now selling for, this one can be saved. I sent a picture of it to metal master Cole Foster, and he agreed to repair it. I wanted some of Cole's work on this car anyway.
1937 Ford window cranks Here's the pair of NOS 1937 Ford window cranks that I bought on eBay.

Great design.
Hand pump Here's an old hand fuel pump for a race car that I found on eBay in November of 2002.

Intended to be used to build up a race car's fuel pressure, it has never been used.

Pumps similar to this were made by several companies, including Bell Auto Parts and Moon.

What makes this particular one unique is the handle, which has the logo for the Indianapolis 500 cast into it.

So far nobody that I have shown this pump to has ever seen another one like it. If any of you know anything about this piece, please let me know.
SCTA emblem In 1999, I bought this cast aluminum SCTA plaque at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

SCTA emblem Here's a pewter SCTA logo for the car. It's another eBay find, bought back in 2002. We're not sure when it was made.

STOP light This old brake light will be mounted in the back window. It was made back in the 1950s. This is one of three identical, NOS lights that I've bought on eBay.

The coupe is going to take a lot more time and money, but it's a higher priority than the roadster or the 1956 Ford panel truck.

Although I'm looking forward to getting it on the road, there's no rush for me to finish this car. I'm only going to build it once, so everything about it has to be done right.

I've wanted this car since the first time I saw one, back in the mid-Sixties. I can wait a bit longer.

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