AN UNCERTAIN PAST
Finding an old, historically significant hot rod might seem like a tantalizing prospect at first. However, with such discovery comes responsibility. The new owner needs to take the vehicle’s history into consideration during the rejuvenation. In other words, it’s often expected that the restorer will return the car to how it was seen during a certain period, looking like it did in, say, a specific 1950s magazine article. It can be a daunting commitment.
Lynn Bird did not face such a hurdle, as his long research regarding this coupe led to nothing conclusive, really. Some might have considered it a disappointment, but Bird saw the positive aspect of his purchase: He was offered the opportunity to create the threewindow coupe he always longed for.
These black-and-white pictures date from the 1970s. They represent the only keepsakes of the old Ford’s past. “That’s all I could find,” says Bird. “One of my friends, Jim Hamlin, bought the car in 1977. There was no doubt in his mind that it had been built as a hot rod with a flathead, back in the 1950s or 1960s.”
The tired yet solid Deuce had some attributes often associated with East Coast rods from the era: channeling, a sectioned grille, and no top chop. During the 1980s, that friend decided to morph the hulk into a street rod typical of the time, so Bird helped him install a 289ci Ford V8, a four-speed Ford transmission, a Vega steering box, and a four-link front and rear suspension.
“Unchanneling” the body proved fairly straightforward, thankfully, as whoever did the work had not butchered the floorpan and frames. The derelict chopped grille was replaced with a stock-height unit, as seen in the color photo of the project. Unfortunately, the coupe suffered some unexpected damage shortly after, in a freak incident involving the Reverse gear: The car slammed into Hamlin’s garage wall, wounding both the structure and the ’32’s rear.
This soured him on finishing the project; he finally decided to sell it to his pal years later, in 2010. Bird spent weeks putting the car back in shape before turning it into the ride you see here. The pictures illustrating this sidebar show the long journey made by the Deuce during the last 40 years, a nice destiny for a genuine threewindow survivor.