United Pacific is making production versions of its '32 Ford 5-window coupe bodylast fall.A work-in-progress United Pacific '32 Ford 5-window coupe body is a work in progress., mounted on a chassis and with an engine, is parked next to a completed project: To celebrate the 75th anniversary of his aftermarket company, Vic Edelbrock commissioned Roy Brizio Street Rod to start with a United Pacific body and build him a state-of-the-art hot rod, complete with a 347-cubic-inch Ford Racing crate engine. (Larry Edsall / Special to The Detroit News)
You may not know a 1932 Ford from a post-war Plymouth, but chances are you’ve heard the Beach Boys sing:
“Well I’m not braggin’ babe so don’t put me down
But I’ve got the fastest set of wheels in town …
She’s my little deuce coupe
You don’t know what I got.”
The Little Deuce Coupe of which the boys from the California beaches sing was, indeed, a 1932 Ford coupe. They called them deuces because of the 2 in ’32.
Long before they were made famous in song, deuce coupes — and 1932 Ford roadsters — were the hot rodders’ choice. Not only did the ’32 Ford replace the old Model A, but it carried the first mass-produced V-8 engine, the famed Flathead Ford, a power plant ripe for horsepower-producing modifications.
Deuce coupes were produced in three- or five-window configurations. The yellow car made famous by the movie “American Graffitti“ was a five-window coupe. The one about which the Beach Boys sang was a three-window coupe owned by the late Clarence “Chili” Catallo, who grew up working in his parents grocery in Dearborn. Catallo’s car was customized by the famed Alexander Brothers shop in Detroit, with a few later tweaks by famed car “kustomizer” George Barris in California.
Interesting note: The rear windows in the three- and five-window 1932 Ford coupes rolled up and down, partly for ventilation, partly so those inside could converse with anyone riding in the optional rumble seat.
It’s been more than 80 years since Ford built any 1932 models, and many it did build were recycled to yield their steel for the war effort. In some cases, hot rodders ended up making fiberglass replica body panels for their cars, but steel is what they want.
As for other components they need for their projects, many were being produced by United Pacific Industries Inc. Based in Long Beach, Calif., United Pacific started producing semi-truck parts and accessories in the late 1970s.
But company founder Major Lin also was into classic cars and had a ’32 five-window coupe, so he also started making automotive restoration parts for everything from Mustangs to Camaros, mid-50s Chevys, post-war Ford and Chevy pickups, and for ’32 Fords.
“We’ve been wholesale only,” said David Odegard, general manager of United Pacific’s classic car and hot rod parts division. “If you were buying Camaro hubcaps or Mustang tail light bezels from a retail supplier, it probably was our product.”
Eventually, United Pacific was making so many parts for the ’32 Ford that the company decided to produce complete bodywork. In 2010 it started with quarter panels and doors and by 2012 it had produced a full prototype body. Last fall at the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) Show, it introduced the production version of its 1932 Ford 5-window coupe body, complete with official licensing from Ford Motor Co.
The new United Pacific bodies are virtually identical to those Ford produced for the coupes, except that in some cases the new ones have slightly thicker sheet metal.
“We had three original ’32 coupes we used for our scans and to make the tooling,” Odegard said, “and the materials they used [at Ford in the early 1930s] were very high in quality.”
For $20,995, you get a welded body with all the interior wood (ash) trim. You can take that body, add a frame, wheels and tires, suspension, steering, engine and hood and fenders and complete your own car — looking anywhere from seemingly stock to as souped up as you want or can afford to go.
The five-window bodies are available through Speedway Motors, So-Cal Speed Shop, Summit Racing and several local hot rod shops.
Odegard said it takes about two months for delivery while production is ramping up.
For information, visit www.uapac.com.
Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at email@example.com.