Deuces vs. Duesenbergs
When most automotive aficionados think of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, usually pre-war classics such as Duesenberg, Packard or Rolls-Royce come to mind. However, 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of historic hot rods being featured at the Concours, and the 90th anniversary of the 1932 Ford, which is the basis of this year’s special class. Ken Gross has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours for more than 30 years and he put together a group of 12 historic and significant hot rods, most of which have been on magazine covers or even in movies. As Gross told us, “Deuces and Duesenbergs don’t necessarily mix, but they’ve [hot rods] proven to be very popular over the years.” Here’s a look at this fun collection of a dozen special hot rods, all built on the 1932 Ford chassis.
1932 Ford Ted Wingate Roadster
Rich and Karen Atwell, Fredericksburg, Texas
In 1951 Ted Wingate of Winchester, Massachusetts built this 1932 Ford hot rod for use as basic transportation — as well as drag racing on the weekends. A few years later, Wingate replaced the Ford V8 with a more powerful Buick V8, then took the roadster to California when he moved there in 1960. Then in 1964 iconic car periodical Hot Rod Magazine featured Wingate’s car on the cover. Ten years later, Street Rodder magazine also made Wingate’s ’32 Ford the cover car. Wingate sold the car to Les Jarvis in 1973 and his friend Larry Wood added flames to the design. Wood was a toy designer at Mattel and used this hot rod as the inspiration for a Hot Wheels toy car called — interestingly enough — Street Rodder.
1932 Ford Pacific Gunsight Special Roadster
Kim McCullough, Pompton Plains, New Jersey
Created by Roy MacKinney and Leo Juri, this highboy roadster was also drag raced by MacKinney in Salinas and Redwood City, California, in the late 1940s. The car was sold to Juri in 1952, sponsored by Juri’s employer, which is how the Pacific Gunsight name came about. In 1963 the rod was featured in Rod & Custom magazine and won multiple awards over the years. Restored in 1998, this special roadster first appeared at the Pebble Beach Concours the following year. McCullough purchased the car in 2017, and the car was completely restored in 2021 with its original four-carburetor configuration and Edelbrock manifold.
1932 Ford Bob McGee Roadster
Bruce Meyer, Beverly Hills, California
This Bob McGee roadster is considered to have set the standard for all other hot rod roadsters. A number of unique features adorn this bright-red car, including hidden hinges, a full-length decklid, a three-piece hood and an aluminum dash. In 1948 this hot rod was the first to be featured on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine. This Bob McGee roadster has gone through several owners and iterations over the years, and was purchased by Bruce Meyer in 1989. Meyer had the hot rod restored to its original configuration by So-Cal Speed Shop, and it earned Best in Class at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
1932 Ford Ken Gross Roadster
Ken Gross, Hamilton, Virginia
Thirty years ago Ken Gross was on the hunt for a “pedigreed” historic hot rod but was unsuccessful in his endeavor. So instead he located an old hot rod with an original 1932 frame and body, and commissioned Dave Simard of East Coast Customs to create this perfect ‘40s-era roadster. Under the hood is a bored and stroked 304-cubic-inch engine built by Mark Kirby of Motor City Flathead. This car really shines with its 24 hand-rubbed coats of black acrylic lacquer, and it won the Bruce Meyer Preservation Award at the 50th Grand National Roadster Show in 1999. Ken drives the roadster whenever he can, and it has more than 7,000 miles on the odometer.
1932 Ford Ray Brown Roadster
Peterson Automotive Museum / Leslie Mark Kendall, Los Angeles, California
Back in 1945, Ray Brown began building this hot rod in his backyard at the age of 18. As with many of these vehicles, Brown used the roadster as a daily driver during the week and raced it on the weekends. The car has an extra 2-gallon tank installed in the trunk as well as a dual-fuel system so the roadster can run on alcohol if desired. Brown sold the car in 1948 and then it was stored for decades until discovered, untouched, in original condition in 1991. Since that time the car has been restored to its original racing configuration.
1932 Ford Lee Titus Roadster
Ross and Beth Meyers, Boyertown, Pennsylvania
After opening a speed shop in Culver City, California, in 1955, Lee Titus decided he needed to build a hot rod for himself. The car retained the ’32 Ford fenders and was finished in black lacquer with a red interior. Power came from a Corvette V8 engine. The car graced the cover of Hot Rod Magazine in May of 1959 and was later purchased by photographer Andy Southard. The car has gone through several changes with multiple owners over the years, and was recently restored to its original 1959 configuration.
1932 Ford Kirk F. White Roadster
Rob and Melani Walton, Scottsdale, Arizona
Unlike many of the hot rods in this collection, this rod was created about 20 years ago when Ferrari collector Kirk F. White asked Pete Chapouris III of the famed So-Cal Speed Shop to build the ultimate 1932 Ford hot rod. Designed by Thom Taylor, the car’s body was created by Ryan Reed and Tim Beard. The stunning interior was finished by Gabe Lopez, and Doane Spencer agreed to build one last Ford small block engine. The result is a beautiful blend of historic charm and modern performance.
1932 Ford Gray Baskerville Roadster
Jim and Chris Shelton, Las Vegas, Nevada
Charles Gray Baskerville was a Senior Editor for Hot Rod Magazine and appropriately drove this roadster to work at Peterson Publishing as his daily driver. Baskerville made plenty of alterations and customizations to his hot rod over the years, eventually installing an Okie Adams dropped axle, Lincoln brakes, a small block Chevy engine and Powerglide transmission. The car got some fresh paint and other updates in 1975, and over the years a few primer spots appeared as repairs were made. When it was suggested that he repaint the car, he declined, saying that this is just how the car is now. And that’s how the car appears now, and it’s still driven everywhere by its current owners who actually drove it from Las Vegas to Monterey for this year’s Concours.
1932 Ford Tom McMullen Roadster
Dana and Patti Mecum, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
This eye-catching flamed roadster made a big splash when it appeared on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine in 1963. The flames and pinstriping were done by none other than Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, but this hot rod was for more than just show. McMullen had installed an aluminum fuel tank with a pressure pump to avoid fuel starvation, and the wheels are magnesium, making them much lighter than their steel counterparts. This hot rod did it all – from drag racing to lake beds to cruising on the street. McMullen sold the roadster in 1969 and went on to build several even more powerful hot rods.
1932 Ford Ian Cusey Roadster
Robert Owens, Wellington, Texas
This roadster was originally painted black, but Ian Cusey purchased it from his fellow classmate Don Streiff. Cusey replaced the engine with a 283 Chevrolet powerplant and had the car painted Jade Green. In 1962 the car was featured in Rod & Custom magazine and a year later it made the cover of Speed Tuning & Trouble Shooting magazine. This roadster is even featured on the cover of the band The Astronauts “Competition Coupe” record album in 1964. The car was disassembled in 1982, then in 2014 the current owners took possession and in 2020 the car was fully restored.
1932 Ford Ed “Axle” Stewart Roadster
John Mumford, Portola Valley, California
Ed Stewart owned a San Diego speed shop in the 1940s, and with the help of a local heat-treating specialist he learned to recurve stock beam axles to lower a hot rod’s front end for better looks and improved handling. This process became a mainstay of hot rods, and Ed’s “Axle” nickname stuck with him for life. In 1953 Stewart was selling dropped axles for $17.50 apiece and he sold hundreds of them. Stewart’s own roadster was quite successful, hitting 128.93 mph at the lakes. Ed’s son Bob inherited the car when Ed passed away, and in 1987 a complete restoration was performed.
1932 Ford Randy Lauen Roadster
Ed and Sherry Gilbertson, San Francisco, California
Ed Gilbertson is the Pebble Beach Concours Chief Judge, and this roadster was his dream Deuce. A proper hot rod with all period-correct equipment, its started life as a 1932 Ford DeLuxe Roadster model 18. The car originally came from Iowa and was restored by Randy Lauen, a hot rod builder based in South Dakota. Gilbertson’s hot rod features a 1953 Mercury V8 flathead engine with twin Stromberg 97 carburetors, and a 1939 Ford transmission with Lincoln Zephyr gears. The rod also has a 1939 Ford steering column with banjo steering wheel, as well as a 1932 Lincoln instrument panel.