Chassis number: 181727931

This Dearborn Deuce all-steel body rod is powered by a complete chrome and polished 454-ci big-block Chevy that’s been bored 0.060 over. It has polished aluminum Edelbrock heads and polished 650 Holley carburetors. The transmission is a Turbo 350, and it has a Ford nine-inch rear end with 3.56 gears.

Additionally, this rod is equipped with Wilwood disc brakes in the front and a set of Supreme wheels with “cheater” slicks. But the aesthetic details are truly what separate this rod from the pack. It has a Duval windshield, a custom one-off removable top, tall chrome shifter, fully chromed suspension front and rear, and a 1940 Ford dash.

From the undercarriage to the trunk, no detail was overlooked in the construction of this ’32. This rod has less than 250 miles on it since its completion. The car is titled and registered currently as a ’32 Ford, and it is very streetable. This is a one-of-a-kind real-deal steel-body rod.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1932 Ford Highboy Roadster
Years Produced:12,080 DeLuxe and Standard V8 and 4-cylinder roadsters in 1932
Original List Price:$500 (for a DeLuxe, $460 for a Standard)
SCM Valuation:Not listed
Tune Up Cost:$200
Chassis Number Location:Stamped on top of driver’s side frame rail
Engine Number Location:On front right pad of engine block
Club Info:There really is no national club specifically for vintage hot rods, but the buyer will be welcomed at the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) and Goodguys events.
Alternatives:None, really... a Deuce is a Deuce

This ’32 Ford Highboy, Lot 953, sold for $52,800, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, AZ, on Jan. 19, 2012.

Selling an unknown hot rod at no reserve is a calculated risk — especially one with no provenance and no magazine feature history. And that’s especially true at a sale where there were 11 other very nice ’32 Fords.

This Deuce roadster was definitely a beauty. Done in 1960s style in bright metallic blue with a snow-white top and gut, Astro Supreme hoops with cheater slicks, and a highly polished big block, it looked like it had rolled right out of the Detroit Autorama in the 1960s. The 3-speed automatic might give one pause, but who cares when you’ve got about 450 horsepower on tap?

It appeared to be quite well-built. The 18-prefixed frame number could be correct for a ’32 Ford, but I didn’t have the chance to see if it was a real frame or a reproduction. Builders can be very creative with a little sleight of hand, an old title and a set of stamping dies.

An expensive build

If he’d had this car built, the consignor had to have spent north of $125k, maybe even $150k with that massive, polished Rat motor. This car was brand new with only 250 miles. But with so many other Deuce roadsters at this sale, including the much-hyped Chip Foose/Boyd Coddington-designed, Bobby Allowaybuilt “Boydster II,” the 2003 AMBR winner, and several very decent newly built steel cars, there were a lot of choices. Still, Boydster II aside, this was one of the best. So what’s the problem?

Hot rods are a very personal thing. If you flat-out loved this Deuce, you’d be delighted. Dearborn Deuce makes a great body. But there were a few hot rod fashion problems, such as a too-flat top, an engine that had a slight rearward tilt and sat a bit too high, cheap-looking instruments, a period-correct but impractical white interior, a kiddy-camp, extended shifter — and I could go on. You can’t change any of that without changing the character of the car.

The right stuff, but…

On the plus side, the roadster itself sat nicely, the finish work and plumbing looked decent, and Wilwood disc brakes are top-shelf. I also like Astro Supremes on cars like this, a boredout 454 is a choice engine, and the ’40 Ford dash was a nice touch. But at Barrett-Jackson, all these positives just weren’t enough to move the needle. It was a pretty car in a crowded room.

Barrett-Jackson has in the past been the best venue for this type of rod. In 2002, Steve Kormondy, out of Oklahoma, brought a steel ’32 he called “Black Jack,” to Scottsdale to sell. It had the look: perfect black paint and a much-polished blown Ardun V8 by none other than Art Chrisman. It was a high-quality California Street Rods build, and it was featured in The Rodder’s Journal, Issue 20 (I wrote the feature). The ’32 sold for $172,800 at Barrett-Jackson’s 2002 auction. Kormondy, who loves the building process, built it to sell, stayed by the car to answer questions, promoted it well, and it was a big hit at the auction. I don’t know if that can happen again.

Was this really a good value?

The Boydster II, which probably cost $400,000 to build, sold in this same sale for $330k, which must be a record for a Boyd-inspired design. George Lange, its consignor, took good care of it, and there’s a slim-butviable market for former AMBR winners, so that helps explain the much-better result. Lot 932, a very similar style ’32 to our profile car, was built in 2006 with an original body and frame by Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas for a reported $130,000, and it sold at B-J this year for $51,700.

This car brought $52,800. That’s in the range of most of the other roadster sales. I’ll bet the buyer is delighted, considering it was bought at one-third of the build estimate, I’d call this ’32 highboy a total steal

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