The Beppie Pistone Deuce Coupe
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