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Hagerty Employee

10 reasons why the 1932 Ford is a hot-rod icon

The 1932 Ford looks as if it were born to be a hot rod. But ask any knuckle dragger why, and they might fumble for a good answer, other than that the car is beautiful as conceived and only gets better-looking under the torch. In fact, there are definitive reasons why we lust after “the Deuce,” some based on its form, some on its function. Even if you can’t explain exactly why the ’32 is the pinnacle of hot-rodding, we know someone who can. A four-time Ridler Award winner, Chip Foose is a master at turning cars into art. We sat down with him and a couple of photos of his 5-window ’32 Ford and took notes.


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There is one reason for the 32 Ford being a Hot Rodders favorite. 


#1 Edsel Ford! 


Edsel was the only Ford that understood design and power. While his father understood basic design and cost he did not understand the evolving market that was coming. If Edsel had not talked HF1 into the 32 I suspect Ford may not be around today. 

The 32 had power, style and engineering that made it relevant. It also was cheap enough that as it aged made it cheap to buy and modify. Edsel got it and I only could imagine where Ford would be today if he had lived. While they did ok they did have some major duds in leadership and most had Ford as a last name. At least the last one was smart enough to get out. 


But if we all look at the cars pre WW2 the best cars that Ford did all had Edsel's finger prints on them. 


To be honest the #2 is Ed Cole and the Small Block Chevy is the second reason. This gave it a much longer life than even the Flat Head. 


"No wood is good. This was the first year for Ford’s all-steel-reinforced body. Thus, the car was much lighter."


Not entirely accurate. Take the 3-Window as an example: The door swings on steel backed by wood, the rear window (which can be dropped) is based on a wood framework as is the roof insert (bows).

Pit Crew

Exactly! My 32 three window had wood framing around the doors, rear roll-down window, and the soft roof opening .
Pit Crew

How the '32 Ford influenced the landscape of the hobby could be one of the greatest ironies in automotive history. It is the product of a man at the top of the house who was very reluctant to innovate or consider style. Grateful that we have it.

Advanced Driver

Sorry, Chip Foose is completely lost on me, as his arrogant attitude and compulsion to modify timeless designs leave me cold. Can't STAND most of his changes to classic cars.

Intermediate Driver

I have to agree with your last sentence.
New Driver

Foose is immensely talented and has made a large imprint on both the actual hot rod/custom car scene as well as stimulating many would-be designers and customizers. Unfortunately early Hollywood-like success and adulation can have an explosive ego effect.

When all other friends and schoolmates were lusting after a new Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, Charger, Challenger, Cougar, Road Runner, 442, Judge, yada-yada; I was "Tossin' and Turnin' All Night" for a Deuce Coupe; a Chopped 5W Highboy with anything-but-a-ford in the engine bay, a 4-speed, sprint car headers, and Big-n-Littles.  Found 'Her' about 50 miles from home, with a Showboat Chrome J-2 Olds, Iron-Case Slant-Pan Hydro, and an Olds rearend.  Flat-towed it home behind my recently acquired, but definitely not NEW, '64 GTO.  She went through numerous iterations of engineering and design, style and color, but always fender-less, hood-less, and fear-less.


  A couple years' back She was sitting in the backyard, minding her own business, when Richard Rawlings came a-callin', and having one, or two, or sixteen too many projects to handle already, she went down the road to Texas.  He didn't want the Pro-style Chassis (out of the original Deuce Rails), or the All-Stock Warranty 2x4 '68 426" Hemi, so they were left behind.


That car gave me more smiles-per-gallon than damn near anything else I've ever driven on the street, as I'm sure many (ALL) Deuce Owners would attest!


Now, as to body style for that orphan Chassis and Engine?  How about a Highboy Roadster, or another Chopped 5W, or a Chopped Tudor, or a Phaeton, or a Sedan Delivery, or a...




It's GOOD to have Choices, huh, Chip? 

Intermediate Driver

Don't forget the musical marketing.  Though the Deuce had been a hot-rodding favorite for some years, when "Little Deuce Coupe" came to the top forty, demand for it and hot rods based on it increased dramatically thereafter.   


Because easy to install  a SBC and a Muncie.

Intermediate Driver

Can't really argue it from a collector car sales standpoint, I've had a lot of nice rods I've sold over the years, but nothing gets the phone ringing like a '32 Ford, whether original, hot rod, steel, or fiberglass.  The phone always rings.  I've got a beautiful black over red one right now, with classic color-keyed wire wheels, independent front suspension, etc. etc.  They are automotive fun, personified.  


I NEVER would have guessed there were 14 different body styles just in '32!

New Driver


Intermediate Driver

Well I have to say I prefer my 33 3 window coupe over the 32 3 window coupe for two reasons - a lot more leg space and the styling is so much better. 

Intermediate Driver



In my humble OPINION and EXPERIENCE whilst growing up in the 50's, a HOT ROD was always a ROADSTER... usually powered by a Flathead V8.  That engine was easily swapped into Model A roadsters as well as the Deuce grill making them almost indistinguishable at first glance... especially for kids my age.


Alas, the  quintessential hot rod back then and even today was always a "hopped-up" Ford roadster of sorts, and were generally not depicted as coupes or sedans.


My .02 Lire

Pit Crew

The 30's were to the 5 window as the 60's were to the 65 Mustang coupe.

Intermediate Driver

Oh Joy...


Well Mr. Foose, I have a different view.


1. They made a bazillion of 'em


2. They were cheap disposable designs


3. A V8 motah with two water pumps that still managed to overheat regularly


4. Was "black" still the color of choice for Fords or were other "optional" colors available?


5. Color me as anything but...


You're Welcome!


This box design is hard on the eyes...when I see a ‘32, just keep on walking, of course the flat head mill is the real deal. But the shape is nothing special.

Advanced Driver

20 vs. 25 louvers in the east/west coast hoods is not a "discrepancy" (the word indicating it's something wrong or done by accident), it's a difference with a very good purpose! Flathead V-8s run rather hot due to the exhaust chamber inside the head, better do something for a little extra cooling in hot environments! I wouldn't be surprised if the radiators were a little larger (or at least the tanks) too, but I don't know that much about the 32 Ford to wven realize there was a difference in the hood louvers.


Enjoy seeing some of the Hot Rods but am presently engage in returning a 32 three window hot rod to stock.  Edsel Ford's design is timeless.  I love it just the way it came off the line in 32, same year as me.