The 1932 Ford Model B Coupe, which hot rodders know as the “Deuce Coupe”, is a classic American hot rod. You could make a strong argument that it is THE classic American hot rod. When the Beach Boys write a song about it, you know the car is hot stuff.
If you have any doubts about the ‘32 Ford’s hot rodding bona fides, I invite you to take a look at Mike Ashley’s Deuce Coupe. It looks great. It sounds great. It runs great. And except for the paint, Mike did it all himself. “When people say they do their own work…” Mike told me, “I literally do everything.”
Mike didn’t rebuild the chassis. Mike built the chassis. Mike didn’t refurbish the interior. Mike and his wife Sandye created the interior. The end result is fantastic.
Let’s start with the interior. “That’s real bamboo,” Mike said of the wood panels on the doors and the dashboard. He made those panels along with the trim pieces around them. He made the front seat and Sandye upholstered it and the headliner. Sections of a leather belt are used to hide the wiring that goes into the doors for the power windows he installed. The passenger compartment and the trunk (also power operated) are fully carpeted, with carpet Mike cut and installed himself. The level of craftsmanship is amazing.
That craftsmanship carried over to the chassis as well. Twenty-eight years experience building NASCAR chassis gave Mike some serious skills. He got the frame rails from a supplier in Missouri, then TIG welded the crossmembers in it. All the welds were smoothed out with a grinder before painting.
The 9-inch Ford rear end is mounted on a four-link rear suspension with coil-over shocks. Mike says these suspensions are easy to build and maintenance free.
A Lucky 7 front axle is also mounted on a four-link. The front suspension uses double mounted links, not the “hair pin” style you frequently on street rods. Mike likes the front spindles to be set with about 10 degrees of caster and he said the double mounted links make that a lot easier to accomplish.
Take a look in the engine compartment and you’ll see three master cylinders. One is for for the front disk brakes, and one is for the rear drums. This harkens back to Mike’s racing days. “In race cars, we always separated the front and rear cylinders,” he said. “That way, in case you had a problem, you still had brakes at one end of the car.” The third master cylinder is for the hydraulic clutch.
The Beach Boys’ Deuce Coupe had “a flathead mill”, but Mike’s choice is a Ford 351 Windsor. The stock block was bored 0.060” over and features a steel crank, a Comp Cams camshaft, roller lifters and roller rocker arms. An electronic ignition system fires the plugs and Sanderson headers take care of the exhaust. Mike likes the strong ceramic coating Sanderson puts on.
NASCAR fans will remember the Holman Moody name, probably most famously for their association with the Woods Brothers. Mike has a long history with Holman Moody, and uses some of their parts on his small block.
The Windsor turns a Tremec five-speed manual transmission which in turn drives the 3:31 gear in the rear end. Mike thinks this is not the right gear for his combination, as it tends to make the engine want to lug a bit when he shifts to the overdrive fifth gear. He’s planning to change it to something taller.
I asked Mike if it started easily. He smiled and said, “Well, let’s see.” He sat behind the wheel, turned the key, and immediately the small block came to life, with a sweet loping idle that sounded great.
And it runs great too. “I can drive it to Alabama in August and it’ll run all day at 190 degrees,” he said. Mike takes advantage of that by driving the Ford pretty much every weekend. Doing that much driving made it an easy decision for Mike to install a Vintage Air AC system.
As you can imagine, it took a lot of work to put this car together. In addition to Sandye, Mike also got the help of his grandson Hampton, who is shown below helping Mike torque the main bearing caps on the motor.
The Deuce Coupe is indeed a hot rod legend. Mike’s beautiful ‘32 adds to that legend with its exquisite design and execution. I think the Beach Boys would be proud.
Photos by GHR and courtesy of Mike Ashley