Clean­est Deuce

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Roddin’ Scene -

In 1959, Ernie de­buted the fin­ished coupe at the Port­land Road­ster Show, and the coupe still has the show plaque on its dash. The car was well re­ceived at the show, and shortly af­ter, Peter Sukalac pho­tographed it for Rod & Cus­tom mag­a­zine. The ar­ti­cle on the ’32 came out in the Au­gust 1960 is­sue with the ti­tle, “The Clean­est Deuce,” which was a great honor for Ernie.

How­ever, Ernie was start­ing his fam­ily and needed money to pur­chase fur­ni­ture, so he sold the coupe be­fore the ar­ti­cle came out to Don Mcma­hon from Hills­boro, Ore­gon. Hot rod­ding has never left Ernie’s blood; at 84 years old he is cur­rently build­ing an­other ’32 Ford coupe, and he also has a high­boy ’32 Ford road­ster with a su­per­charged SBC in it that he drives reg­u­larly.

The coupe traded own­ers for a cou­ple years in the North­west Ore­gon area, even­tu­ally end­ing up with Don Sch­wab in 1963, who re­ceived it as a down pay­ment for a house.

Don, an avid drag racer, set out with his part­ner and friend, Ted Bab­cock, to turn the ’32 into a “show-and-go” hot rod. Ted re­painted the coupe, which still wore the red that Ernie painted it, in or­ange with bronze fad­ing on the body lines and edges. Ted sent the 265 Chevy en­gine to Salem Ma­chine Shop to be fresh­ened up, and then later in­stalled a 283 Chevy en­gine for more power.

Don could not re­mem­ber why they did the Touché Tur­tle liv­ery on the coupe, just that it was a pop­u­lar car­toon in the late 1960s and that it was unique. He does re­mem­ber Spence Etzell did the “Touché Away” let­ter­ing. In 1968, the in­te­rior of the ’32 was changed from Ernie’s white Nau­gahyde to a black and or­ange vinyl tuck-and-roll on the bucket seats.

From 1964 to 1971, Don raced and showed the car all around the North­west and Canada, in­clud­ing at the Port­land Road­ster Show, where Ernie first showed the coupe. Don even met his wife while rac­ing the coupe. One night while

at New­port dragstrip, Don was in the bleach­ers watch­ing the races, and his fu­ture wife, Beth, was sit­ting next to him. In late 1971, Don sold the coupe for the same rea­sons that Ernie had: His wife just had their first child, and they needed to buy fur­ni­ture for their house. The coupe was sold to Jay Hyde, an avid car col­lec­tor from Sher­wood, Ore­gon. He moved the coupe into stor­age at his ware­house, where the car would stay dor­mant for the next 43 years.

ebay Find

In 2015, Stan Ochs of Da­m­as­cus, Ore­gon, pur­chased the coupe through an ebay auc­tion from the es­tate of Jay Hyde, who had passed away. This was the first time the car had been in the sun since be­ing put into stor­age in 1972. Upon re­ceiv­ing the car, Stan, who is also an avid ’32 Ford col­lec­tor, started tin­ker­ing on Touché, but his own­er­ship would be short-lived.

Just two years af­ter buy­ing the coupe, Stan de­cided to sell Touché be­cause he had other projects to get done. Kim and Cedric Meeks, also from Da­m­as­cus, Ore­gon, and friends of Stan’s, jumped at the chance. Kim had wanted a ’32 for a long time, and this was her chance to fi­nally own one.

Cedric, who has built many hot rods and cus­toms (and whose banger Model A was fea­tured in “Nasty Classy” in our July 2017 is­sue), started work­ing on Touché by metic­u­lously go­ing through the chas­sis and driv­e­train. He fixed some of the ques­tion­able welds on the chas­sis, re­built the 283 en­gine, and in­stalled a Mun­cie four-speed trans­mis­sion. In a nod to the coupe’s her­itage, Cedric had the in­te­rior re­done by fel­low Es­tranged club mem­ber Guy Recor­don in pearl white tuckand-roll Nau­gahyde, sim­i­lar to the in­te­rior Ernie had in it. The body of the coupe did not need any work at all. Cedric just did a thor­ough clean­ing and buff of the paint. The coupe made its de­but in the Suede Palace at the 2018 Grand Na­tional Road­ster Show, where it had a crowd around it the whole time.

With the coupe now in top-run­ning con­di­tion, Kim and Cedric plan on show­ing it and tak­ing it to sev­eral drag races around the Pa­cific North­west and Cal­i­for­nia. “We are only the care­tak­ers, keep­ing his­tory alive,” say the cou­ple.

> This is one of the only pho­tos from when Peter Sukalac shot the coupe for Rod & Cus­tom mag­a­zine in 1959. Ernie only had a front bumper for the coupe, so when the rear shots were taken, he would swap the bumper to the rear of the car, giv­ing it the il­lu­sion of hav­ing two bumpers.

> The coupe in 1965 just af­ter Don Sch­wab and Ted Bab­cock made some of their changes. The ’32 had been painted or­ange, but the gold fad­ing and “Touché Away” liv­ery had not been added yet. Don would flat tow the coupe to the drags be­hind his 1965 Oldsmo­bile Cut­lass 4-4-2.

> The ar­ti­cle on Ernie’s coupe came out in the Au­gust 1960 is­sue of Rod and Cus­tom, though by then Ernie had al­ready sold the coupe so he could buy fur­ni­ture for his young fam­ily.

> The 1959 Port­land Road­ster Show plaque is still on the dash, right where Ernie Martin in­stalled it. It will re­main there for­ever. > The head­lights on Touché have a unique lens de­sign with a shielded “M” logo in the cen­ter and on the top of the lenses. These head­lights are from the Mar­chal head­light com­pany of France and were usu­ally found on vin­tage Euro­pean sports cars.

> Kim and Cedric had fel­low Es­tranged car club mem­ber Guy Recor­don redo the coupe’s in­te­rior. They de­cided to go back to the white that Ernie Martin had it in dur­ing the late 1950s, with a lit­tle twist. Guy added a touch of or­ange pip­ing to go along with the or­ange on the body. When Kim and Cedric first got the coupe, the or­ange and black tuck-and-roll in­te­rior was still in it, but it had started to show its age.

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