Sto­ry­tellers

The Bep­pie Pi­s­tone Deuce Coupe

Street Rodder - - Contents -

Bep­pie Pi­s­tone’s Deuce Coupe

Give some­one a key­board and In­ter­net ac­cess and they can vir­tu­ally be­come an ex­pert at any­thing. Give them a spe­cial­ized tool and, un­less there’s po­ten­tial skilled tal­ent idling in those same hands, that ex­per­tise re­mains vir­tual. Since my pre­ferred spe­cial­ized tool just hap­pens to be a key­board, I of­ten find my­self telling car builders to stick to what they do best (build them) and leave the writ­ing to me when it comes to build­ing the fea­ture. But I will ad­mit, there are a few who are al­most as skilled with the typed word as they are with their ham­mers and welders … al­most. Not sur­pris­ingly, Bill Ganahl just hap­pens to be at the top of that list, so when it came time to gather up all the back­story on Bep­pie Pi­s­tone’s long-sto­ried Deuce coupe, the info Ganahl pro­vided wasn’t just first­hand ac­cu­rate, it car­ried with it the tone that only some­one who’d been in­volved since day one could trans­mit.

Both Ganahl and Bep­pie’s '32 three-win­dow got their start at Roy Brizio Street Rods in South San Fran­cisco; both ended up in Hay­ward at Ganahl’s shop, South

City Rod & Cus­tom. “I don’t know much about the car be­fore Bep­pie brought it to me ex­cept that it was an old hot rod. It had al­ready been chopped back in the day and had a small-block Chevy in it. It was un­fin­ished, maybe even in primer, but it was a run­ning, driv­ing car. The first I knew of it was when he had us build a chas­sis at Roy Brizio’s when I was still work­ing there full time. Jack Strat­ton fabbed a com­plete chas­sis, ba­si­cally as you see here, ex­cept it had a dif­fer­ent trans, maybe a T5? But we did the Ford mo­tor and quick-change.

“I got to know Bep­pie pretty well then since he was at the shop all the time while the chas­sis was be­ing built. I had a small shop ba­si­cally next door to Brizio’s, where I was do­ing some work on the side and work­ing on my own stuff, so Bep­pie had me do a lit­tle work on his car too. I fabbed the gauge panel way back then out of two Ste­wart-Warner pan­els—Bep­pie wanted a six-gauge panel, which wasn’t avail­able, so I used two pan­els to make one, and put ribs at the top and the bot­tom to make a unique clus­ter. Then I had Hane­line make an en­gine­turned in­sert for it and in­stalled the S-W gauges and jewel lights.

“The next time the car came back to me, I had ex­panded my shop and was work­ing half the week there and the other half at Roy’s. So Bep­pie brought the car to my shop to fix some older met­al­work that had been done and to fin­ish fab­bing and build­ing the car. I re­moved all the wood and re­shaped it all to fit the doors in the open­ings, cut the quar­ter-pan­els off, and sliced them into three pieces each to re­shape them to flow cor­rectly, re-skinned the deck­lid and lou­vered it, cut out and re­built the strength­en­ing sup­port cage be­hind the seat area, re­built the floors, fabbed the trans tun­nel and toe­boards, mounted the col­umn, fabbed the fuel lines, bat­tery ca­bles, throt­tle pedal, and link­age, and re-fabbed the fuel filler neck and filler.

“Bep­pie knew he couldn’t af­ford to fin­ish the car all at once, so we made a plan to as­sem­ble the car and make it a run­ner with the body in bare metal, but with the

chas­sis and driv­e­train all painted and fin­ished—that way we could just tape every­thing off and paint the body with­out re­mov­ing it from the frame once he was ready. We made a dead­line to get the car fin­ished to drive to Andy’s Pic­nic (around 2011-2012). With a bunch of help from many peo­ple, we blew every­thing apart and painted and re­assem­bled the chas­sis, driv­e­train, body, and got the car run­ning in a mat­ter of months— and barely made Andy’s Pic­nic.

“The list of peo­ple who helped up to that point is a long one: Darryl Hol­len­beck painted the frame, the fire­wall, and the bot­tom of the car, in­clud­ing all of the panel paint­ing and cob­web­bing; Bran­don Flan­ner pin­striped Darryl’s pan­els; Joe Com­pani and Ryan Campi of Com­pani Color painted the en­gine, trans­mis­sion, and rearend; Matt Connolly of Brizio’s fabbed the en­gine ac­ces­sory brack­ets and wired the car; Len Er­nani of Brizio’s as­sem­bled the mo­tor; Tony Benedetti and Jack Strat­ton of Brizio’s helped me as­sem­ble the car at my shop; and many other peo­ple do­nated time and parts to the project.

“Af­ter get­ting the car to this point, Bep­pie drove it in bare metal for years and put thou­sands of miles on it. He ba­si­cally drove it daily, and drove it hard—break­ing the rearend at least twice! By the time he brought it back to my shop for the fi­nal build, the rear tires were al­most bald. Un­for­tu­nately, by the time we de­cided to fi­nally paint and fin­ish the car for good, he had put so many miles on it that we ended up hav­ing to com­pletely dis­as­sem­ble and re­build the en­tire car rather than just tape off the frame and paint the body as we’d planned.

“For the fi­nal build, Bep­pie brought it back to my shop, which was now in Hay­ward, and we went through vir­tu­ally every­thing on the en­tire car. We de­cided to fab and fit a hood (just top pieces), so we used an orig­i­nal one and fas­tened it with Dzus fas­ten­ers. We also fi­nally re­shaped the roof to get rid of the flat spot from the pre­vi­ous chop. We planned to show the car at the Grand Na­tional Road­ster Show, so I went way fur­ther than we in­tended on re­fur­bish­ing every­thing, in­clud­ing rechroming many of the parts and most of the hard­ware. We also met­al­worked every­thing to pre­pare for paint and gapped the doors and trunk.

“This time around, Joe Com­pani and his crew painted the en­tire body. We re­moved the body from the chas­sis and ro­tis­seried it. Af­ter Er­nani went through the mo­tor to freshen it up again, we did all the fi­nal as­sem­bly at my shop be­fore send­ing it to Chris Plante in Santa Rosa for a full in­te­rior. (Note: Bep­pie makes it very clear that Plante and Bep­pie’s wife, Gly­nis, picked out the up­hol­stery and ig­nored him com­pletely!) We de­buted the car at the GNRS in Jan­uary 2018, and Bep­pie’s been driv­ing it daily ever since.”

Re­gard­less of how or why things hap­pened as they did— or didn’t, de­pend­ing on how you look at it—af­ter seven years of deal­ing with Ganahl et al in­volved, Bep­pie’s happy, his wife’s got the in­te­rior she al­ways wanted, and South City Rod & Cus­tom is onto the next sto­ry­teller.

For the dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence: https://bit.ly/2AnMl15

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