By Brian Brennan,
All of us have seen the proliferation of '32 Ford frames in the world of rodding; starting in the 1970s with The Deuce Factory (the originator of the stamped-Deuce frame), to the present day stamped frame from American stamping. Today, there are numerous companies that produce a version of Henry's rails as a weld together. Just when you think you have seen it all - along comes another idea that is really innovative and worth taking a serious look at.
Hot Rods & Custom Stuff (HR&CS), located in Escondido, California, has been around since 1989. Under the direction of its owners, Randy and Peaches Clark, the company is housed in a multi-building facility with an ever expanding in-house staff of fabricators, body and paint workers, and chassis and engine tuners that work on a wide variety of street rods, trucks, and other modified vehicles. They are well known in the San Diego area and received national recognition when Randy and his staff produced the '49 Chevy [the M-80], that won the 2001 Detroit Autorama Ridler Award.
HR&CS's love for the Deuce is no secret, having introduced the Deuce Steel line of products. Already produced is a five-piece stamped '32 firewall with all of the spot welds and rivets positioned exactly like an original. These firewalls will fit original or aftermarket '32 steel bodies (Brookville Roadster, Rods Bods, and Hot Rods & Horsepower) and come with corrosion resistant paint.
HR&CS also produces a Deuce Steel 15-gallon gas tank that's stock in its appearance and mounting parameters but features an unobtrusive 3 gallons of added capacity. The gas tanks are baffled and come with a filtered, stainless steel pickup, and return tube assembly. For those who run an EFI motor a return is also provided.
And now for the pride and joy of the Deuce Steel line from HR&CS - the Deuce Steel frame. If you are looking for a reproduction Deuce frame you may be disappointed. However, if you are a hot rodder who wants something different, then this is the frame for you. It will accept an original or aftermarket fiberglass or steel body. The intent of the frame was to allow a builder the opportunity to have a traditional appearing Deuce highboy with the ground-hugging appearance of a lowboy. The Deuce Steel frame retains the highly desirable look of the front frame horns, the unique stamped reveal, and the highboy appearance - yet, a much lower stance is achieved. Before we tell you how they do that, a bit more background
We first came across the frame while attending the L.A. Roadsters Father's Day Show last summer. Tech Editor Ron Ceridono and myself were trying to "hide" from the hot afternoon sun when we noticed this great awning. (Any awning that casts a shadow on a 100-plus degree-day is technically great.) Randy had a booth in the swap meet section of the show and in his booth were the Deuce Steel firewall and gas tanks.
There was more - a rolling chassis and a pair of Deuce highboys. What captured our attention was how low one highboy was compared to the other. Both appeared to be traditional looking Deuce highboy roadsters. In conversations with Randy it was brought to our attention that the two cars were there, among other reasons, to show how one could build a traditional highboy, or a new and very exciting looking highboy, with a lowboy stance. The idea was to retain all of the desirable appointments normally associated with a highboy (as mentioned earlier) yet to really get down in the weeds.
Remember, a typical lowboy Deuce roadster would be channeled, thereby giving up both interior room and the aesthetic appearance of the stamped frame reveal. It would also have a frame that would be kicked up in the front and back. In front , you would lose the visible and appearance pleasing frame horns and in the back, you would also lose the stock gas tank mounting point.
Back to the story at hand. It turns out that the traditional highboy was owned by Chick and Sue Ann Koszis of Valley Center, California, while the innovative highboy was owned and built by Dave Iverson of El Cajon, California. It was Dave who was the originator of the unique Deuce Steel frame. Dave and Randy were put in touch with one another and the idea for the Deuce Steel frame came to fruition at Goodguys Del Mar in 2002. Voila, we now have the Deuce Steel frame as designed by Dave Iverson and manufactured by Randy of HR&CS (Dave has been involved with cars his whole life, having been a restorer until 1973 when he moved over to street rods. He has also built a number of custom bikes and owned an establishment called the Broken Spoke Saloon in Sturgis - He sold it in 1995. He now devotes his time to designing and building unique street rods.)
One only has to look at a '32 Ford to notice how the design element of the frame reveal is continued up and forward via the gentle rise of the fender line. However, when you build a highboy you lose this design element through the absence of fenders. In order to bring this perspective back Dave reasoned that by lengthening the frame 3-inches and allowing the frame to gently kick-up as it went forward you could get the original feel back. (There's no mistaking the frames Deuce heritage, but then there's the gently forward upward angle reminiscent of a '33-'34 frame.) This design also means that the traditional hood sides would change. A design element in the form of an upward "swoop" would be necessary along the bottom edge of both hood side panels. In the end you have a lengthened frame that kicks up, and together with hood side panels that are no longer straight at the bottom, you have brought back the unique and striking Deuce appearance without fenders. What's amazing is that while the idea is fresh in its thinking , the fact remains that the car retains all of the appearance one would expect from a traditional Deuce highboy. The Deuce Steel frame offers the advantage of an altered stance and lowered nose via up-swept front frame rails. It does this while maintaining the interior room (no channeling). (It should be noted that stock '32 front fenders would not work in this application.)
There's a lot of work between a one-of and a production frame. (Ask Dave, he can tell you about the "birthing" pains of this project.) At HR&CS they begin with a pair of American Stamping rails and proceed to fabricate from there. A frame fixture is used to hold the AS rails during the modification process, thus ensuring a "square" frame. From here the rails are angle cut just in front of the stamped reveals. HR&CS then attaches their up-swept front frame rails.
They also fabricate a six-point, steel tube, double "K"-member, insert boxing plates, raised motor and tranny mounts for enhanced ground-clearance, and "C'd" rails in back for improved rearend travel. Currently, the following engine/tranny combos available include a Ford flathead V-8, Ford small-block V-8, a Chevy small- or big-block, or a Chrysler Hemi. A variety of matching automatics or manual gearbox mounts are also available.
The frames' wheelbase is extended 3-inches to 109 inches, the rails are pinched 3-inches in front, and a narrowed Model A front cross-member is used. The frame is designed to be used with a tube or I-beam axle (no IFS, yet!), a Vega-style cross steering, and hairpins. Hopefully by the time you read this, split wish-bones will also be offered. (No four-bar is available in front but the rear is set up for a traditional Ford 9-inch and a four-bar.) The grill shell also requires modifications, as does the radiator. At the time of this writing, the HR&CS plan is to offer all of the modified pieces such as the grill shell, a Walker radiator, and a hood. The Deuce Steel frame can be ordered to accept a stock or reproduction gas tank or "bobbed" in back for the traditional highboy appearance.
Follow along in the photos and see how HR&CS arrives at one of these unique Deuce Steel frames and how it can dramatically change the appearance of one traditional roadster versus another. We think you will be impressed. SR.