• 650-hp, 427-ci SOHC “Cammer” V8 with two 4-bbl carburetors
  • Rod & Custom cover car in January 1998
  • Built by an all-star cast of hot rod greats: Art Chrisman, Steve Davis, Pete Eastwood, Ron Mangus, Stan Betz and Bob Kennedy
  • Chosen as one of “The 75 Most Significant ’32 Fords”
  • Beautifully maintained with low mileage

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe
Years Produced:1932, 1997
Number Produced:Standard and DeLuxe coupes, 70,720
Original List Price:N/A
SCM Valuation:Median to date, $85,000; high sale, $742,000
Tune Up Cost:$500 (estimated)
Distributor Caps:$20
Chassis Number Location:On frame rail, driver’s side, in front of firewall
Engine Number Location:Goodguys, National Street Rod Association (NSRA)
Club Info:http://www.good-guys.com
Website:Other ’32–’34 Ford coupes, 3-window and 5-window

This car, Lot 130, sold for $154,000, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding & Company’s auction in Scottsdale, AZ, on January 23, 2016.

It’s not often that I have the chance to inspect an ACC profile car before the auction and be there when it is sold, but I’ve been involved from the beginning on this ’32 3-window, because I know its history. I saw it when it appeared at the Fairplex in Pomona in 2007 for the 75th Anniversary of the 1932 Ford, and I’ve spoken several times with the seller.

As ’32 Fords go, this one’s really special, from its Art Chrisman-built 427 big-block Cammer V8 to extensive modifications, paint and metalwork by some of the best practitioners in the business.

Sidney Allen, the seller, told me he saw a picture of the car at Art Chrisman’s and had to have it. It was a Rod & Custom cover car in January 1998. Allen bought it after the untimely passing of its builder Mike Martin. Although the coupe was completed nearly 20 years ago, it’s still immaculate and looks as though it was just completed.

If I had a Cammer …

The fun starts under the hood. Ford SOHC V8s are rare engines, and this torque monster, massaged by the legendary Art Chrisman and topped with twin Holley 4-bbls, develops over 650 hp. That’s plenty of punch for a little deuce coupe that can’t weigh more than 2,400 pounds. If you want one of these SOHC engines today, you have to spend $40,000 to $50,000, and that’s before you’d take a gennie Deuce 3-window, chop it, mount it on a boxed, modified and stretched chassis, then pay top dollar to have it finished to a fare-thee-well.

I stress the Cammer engine here because you don’t often find Ford’s SOHC 427 big-block V8s in hot rods, and this may have been the first time anyone did one in an early Ford. Rare and expensive, they were NASCAR’s most powerful engine overnight, and were quickly banned from competition.

According to R&C, Motorsports Hall of Fame and NHRA legend Art Chrisman upgraded this car’s engine with a forged crank, J&E 9.5:1 pistons, Le Mans connecting rods, Donovan stainless valves, a Vertex magneto, a Buddy Barr aluminum intake with twin Holley 4-bbl carburetors, a Holman & Moody oil pan, and headers by Mike Hamm. Chrisman modified a Ford C6 automatic to handle the 427’s mountain of torque, and fitted period Buick finned drums, a Halibrand quick-change rear and Aldan coil-over shocks. Pete Eastwood fabricated the boxed chassis with a three-inch stretch for better handling and proportions. Ka-ching!

Noted metalman Steve Davis subtly wedge-chopped the top a little more than an inch in front and an inch in the rear. He raised the cowl three-quarters of an inch, bull-nosed and shortened the grille and fabricated a three-piece hood that’s three inches longer than stock.

The rolled rear pan features frenched taillights and a Jaguar flip-top filler cap. Finished in PPG Deltron Yellow, mixed by Stan Betz and applied by Jerry Cain, the car also has a Ron Mangus interior, a woodgrain dash by Bob Kennedy, and a custom Ron Sexton banjo steering wheel. Those names are some of the best in the business, and beyond their laying of hands on this ’32, the car was also voted one of the “75 Most Significant ’32 Ford Hot Rods” by a panel of hot rod experts in 2006.

Power to the people

Long a hot rod favorite, the 1932 Model 18 introduced Ford’s 65-hp, low-priced flathead V8 for the masses. Production didn’t get under way until March of 1932, and the 3-window coupe arrived late in the model year.

Hot-rodders loved the flathead from the get-go, and Henry obliged by improving it substantially until 1953. The go-fast crowd had already started installing OHV V8s from Cadillac, Olds and Chrysler by the mid-1950s, and as soon as Chevy’s lightweight small-block V8 hit the streets, that motor began its upward trajectory.

Big-block engines such as Chevy’s 409, Pontiac’s 421 and, of course, Chrysler’s 426 Hemi found their way into hot rods, but they were comparatively rare.

The mighty-but-outlawed Cammers, which went from NASCAR right into Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars, were considered too expensive. So Mike Martin’s yellow coupe was an anomaly when it was first built. I thought it’d go for much more here at the auction, but that’s not what happened. Surprisingly, bids on this ’32 were slow to start at the Gooding sale — the whole event was somewhat sluggish, with hot rods even more so — and bidding eventually eked its way up to $154k with buyer’s commission. That’s decent money, but well short of the $200,000 high estimate.

Great expectations

This is the first time one of the “Top 75 Deuces” has come on the market, and some observers wondered if that honor would have a positive effect.

This blazing yellow coupe’s pedigree is really impressive; it’s in perfect condition, and it’s not been seen too often, so there are still show opportunities for the new owner. Sidney Allen was on hand to tempt looky loos at the Gooding auction: “It’s fun to drive,” he said, “but it’ll step out unless you watch what you do with your right foot!” If you were nit-picking, you might challenge its proportions based on the way hot rods are built today — the roof is a bit high; a three-inch chop would look better, contemporary cars run taller rear meats, etc. But that’s all hindsight.

While you couldn’t possibly build this car now for $154k, especially with the talented crew who first did it, a greater issue may be that for six figures these days, many guys would rather commission and author their own cars. Contemporary hot rods aren’t setting sales records, either. I still think this will prove to be a collectors’ item, given its history and “Top 75” status, but that didn’t count for much in Arizona. ACC Editor Jim Pickering called this a “screaming deal,” and I have to agree.

(Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company.

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