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.
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.