Two pair of Deuce is a pretty good hand to hold…
BY DALE HABERFIELD, PHOTOS MILLBROOK STUDIO, FULL FEATURE CRUZIN #199
When the term ‘hot rod’ is uttered in conversation, literature or movies, the mental image for almost everybody materialises in the form of a ’32 Ford.
Ask any rodder what the ultimate hot rod is and the answer will be 99.9 percent a 1932 Ford. Even if the person you’re asking doesn’t care for them that much, it’s just a fact.
A one year wonder, there has never been a more popular vehicle amongst hot rodders. Often referred to as the deuce, it has been treated to literally every conceivable form of performance and appearance modification since it rolled off the assembly line and features more than any other in hot rod enthusiast magazines, including the very first cover of Rod & Custom.
The styling of the deuce is frequently credited to Briggs & Murray, who built bodies for Ford under contract, but it is more generally agreed that Eugene Gregorie is the true designer of the ’32 Ford’s classic lines. While Henry allegedly had little time for things like design, thankfully for us his son Edsel had great taste and cared about vehicle appearance. It was Edsel who hired Gregorie, resulting in numerous beautiful designs for Ford with the deuce being one of the earliest milestone collaborations.
During America’s Great Depression, affordability, good looks and the brand-new Ford V-8 engine played a big role in the initial and ongoing success of the deuce, with overwhelming public response that has never waned with time. One only has to assess the hot rod aftermarket industry to confirm that it is far easier to build or rebuild a ’32 Ford than any other, but popularity commands a premium price. While your brand new SUV depreciates in value the moment you leave the dealership, a crusty and forlorn deuce remains a bankable commodity.
It’s always a great day when a gathering of desirable deuce’s are corralled for any occasion. When that collection consists of cars owned by the same family, it’s almost an overwhelming get together filled with humorous and historic stories.
I first met Ron Weary and his two sons, Brett and Damian on a Cruzin Quickie tour to the USA in 2011, the same trip that Damian purchased his ’32 five window coupe as featured here. Six years Iater, I thought it was time to catch up with the Perth based family and uncover the other gems that I have heard about over the years.
As you can see from the opening image, the Weary’s have a thing for the 1932 Ford. I credit Ron as the instigator, but the apple (or in this case apples), haven’t fallen too far from the tree with ‘32 Ford’s occupying most of the available car space at the family home. And it truly is a family affair with Damian’s wife Susan enjoying her own designer deuce as a 30th birthday present, which she shares with daughter Veronica, or Lil Miss V at every chance.
“My old man was always into cars… a tinkerer. He lived in the shed always fixing stuff,” Ron informs.
A spray painter by trade, Ron has enjoyed a lifelong love affair with old cars but the iconic hot rod wooed him from the get go.
“I worked for a guy that had a ‘34 sedan and that made me decide to get a ‘34. I looked at one but it was a jigsaw puzzle. Then I bought a bigger one, it was a ‘32. I looked at a ‘34 roadster but this ’32 3W coupe was up in the roof of a shed and I said; ‘That’s coming home.’”
That was back in 1977 and Ron has amassed a few more bits and pieces from those days yet to be finished… or commenced really.Along the way he’s always been involved in the rodding scene, becoming a founding member of the Conrodders who conducted their first club meeting at his house around January of 1980.
“I’ve owned a ‘47 and a Pilot and a few others but the ’32 is the one,” he states.
One of the more memorable vehicles was a Morris Minor that sported a 1275 Austin Healy engine. He referred to it as “Mum’s car”, revealing that it broke a lot of diffs during its reign in the west. Christina chimes in that during the boys’ upbringing they all frequented rod runs and car shows together, but now she is content just looking after her trio of men and their machines, and Lil Miss V of course.
And as if on cue, a plate of freshly made sandwiches appears with cold drinks to wash them down and help beat the WA heat in the middle of summer. As we chat, a swag of old family pictures slowly compete with the sambos for table space and I learn more about the assembled hot rods that are considered valued members of the Weary family.
Ron’s 1932 Ford Tudor
Believe it or not Ron has spent the best part of 38 years assembling this original tudor (twice), finally achieving rego just over 12 months ago. It was procured from west coast ‘32 aficionado Lyall Newland as a body only and Ron has since devoted decades of his life chasing relative parts, squirreling away enough components to build it many times over.
During the tudor’s first incarnation, Ron clocked 2,800km the first four weeks until the engine expired. Now with a fresh Windsor block with a 28oz crank sporting a pair of Dart heads, he’s travelled over 7,500km in just the first year.
“I bought the tudor 18 months after the coupe and ran it down the drag strip in 1988,” he remarks with enthusiasm.
From there it was torn down and rebuilt, enhancing the stance and refining the overall aesthetics.
“It looked a bit like a four wheel drive,” he chuffs. “It was always going to be red but hey…”
He also divulges that he doesn’t like black or green cars… go figure! Now with rego in hand, he can tool the streets at will in a rod that boasts a reliable drive train of FoMoCo pedigree. It may have not turned out the red rocket that Ron first envisaged but one thing that he is adamant about is that it will never be mistaken as a stocker.
“Restoring sucks…it was always going to be a hot rod!”
Damian’s 1932 Ford 5W Coupe
As mentioned earlier, Damian purchased this deuce coupe while on vacation in the USA. It was at the L A roadster show and I remember that day vividly as he could not contain his excitement when he closed the deal.
“Look at what I just bought!” he said with a Cheshire grin, pointing to the survivor hot rod atop a trailer amongst the plethora of cool cars at one of the world’s most popular hot rod swap meets.
The buy was not on a whim but a calculated purchase after doing his homework prior to the trip. It’s a trait that has helped further Damian’s career in the Quality, Health, Safety and Environment, where he just graduated with his Masters degree.
“There’s this guy in Perth that has a shop with cool cars so I paid him a visit to see what he had or knew of for sale,” he explains. “After discussing what I wanted he said, ‘Why not just build one,’ and gave me a quote of 90-100 grand. And that was for fiberglass! I wasn’t interested in having someone build one as I preferred to buy something that I could make my own.”
Damian continued that he also liked later model Fords, including the ’33, ’34 and ’36 variants, but was very inspired by Geoff Rea’s ’32 coupe ever since riding in it in his pre-teen years whilst Geoff was in Perth. Even at the swap meet, he mulled over the idea of purchasing both a 5W ’34 coupe and roadster for similar coin as the ’32, but the deuce coupe was too good to pass up.
“That was dad’s first holiday without mum,” he confesses. “We made the decision to do the trip after dad was given the all clear from prostate cancer and we said just f*#k it, lets go. He was way out of his comfort zone but had a ball. Dad was crawling around and under the coupe at the swap meet saying that it was really good.”
With his prized Deuce arriving home in WA, it was quickly obvious that licencing a LHD hot rod was not going to happen and the coupe took a back seat to both Ron’s tudor and Brett’s roadster in the family workshop. Since my visit and the accompanying photos, the coupe is now in pieces and undergoing a RHD conversion with a host of upgrades including, colour, wheels and trim that will see his old time survivor hit the street once again.
Susan’s 1932 Ford Roadster
During the interim of the coupe’s highway hiatus, Damian thought that he could solve two predicaments with one solution. He had no hot rod to have fun in and wife, Susan requested a red convertible as her perfect 30th birthday present.
“She was thinking more like a red AMG Mercedes, but that didn’t match my hot rod description. I simply traded the bike I was about to buy for the ‘safer’ roadster option,” Damian smirks.
Working away in Queensland at the time, Damian located this neat and complete red roadster on the internet in a town near Perth, and thought he would try his luck with his bride.
“It was at Bunbury and after I showed her some pictures, she agreed that it was convertible-ish and we set about having and look and eventually bought it.”
The repro roadster was originally built by Adam’s Hot Rod Shop in the USA and had found its way to WA via New Zealand. Upon inspection, Damian also learned that it had suffered an altercation over a shopping mall retaining wall by its then current owner, but was repaired under its Shannons insurance policy. Sporting a new So-Cal Speed Shop I beam front end, Damian remarked that it was the nicest hot rod that he’d driven and a deal was struck… gift wrapping optional. Other than rectifying the braking system, relocating the alternator, a seat alteration and miscellaneous refinements, it’s pretty much as purchased and continues to tide over the coupe’less couple for now.
Brett’s 1932 Ford Roadster
While older brother Damian is unashamedly white collar, Brett Weary is as blue as any cattle dog or his real steel roadster. A little bruised, battered and rough around the edges, there’s plenty of good Aussie character in both of them.
“I have always been messing around with cars and being a boiler maker, I’m very hands on,” Brett says in a drizabone tone.
The Weary’s first spied the black Aussie bodied roadster at the 2010 Sandgroper Nationals and purchased it 12 months later. A West Australian native, it was originally found in the southern wheat belt town of Narrogin in its original form. It’s a proud sandgroper real steal survivor, which avoided the usual farm/station treatment of being turned into a work ute once the duties as the family car were over. Brett remarks that it was professionally coach built and was a good looker, but some of its attractive appearance was really only skin deep.
Underneath the black duco resided a number of evil adaptations compiled to piece the old deuce together, pieces that unravelled the more Brett and the boys kept digging.
“It looked like the coachwork guys made one mistake… and continued on from there. One door dipped into the bottom body line by 10mm and the other side was 10mm higher and didn’t dip at all. I assumed that one quarter panel was longer than the other. We made the quarter fit the wheel arch and moved the front of the quarter to match a new pair of Brookville reproduction doors and cowl sides,” he recalls.
Even when Brett wanted to check some measurements and tried swapping the dickie seat with the boot lid from Damian’s comparable coupe component, problems surfaced really showing the shortcomings of the coachwork roadster as it would not fit. After remaking one side of the bodyline from the top of the deck lid to the fuel tank, a new edge around the entire boot area was also fabricated. A set of Brookville sub rails helped advance progress with the modifications and eventually all the pieces gelled together to what you see now.
“Damian’s boot lid never fitted as the opening was half an inch too narrow and there was a lot of lead filler to contend with.”
With bodywork reconfigured, Brett was thankful that the chassis was safely constructed, although he did revise its rear altitude 13 inches closer to WA’s sandy soil and replace a broken four bar that left him stranded in the city which initiated the aforementioned body amendments. He also refined the interior replacing a Mazda 929 steering column with a simple unit that was destined for Ron’s Tudor. Now topped with a ’40 Ford tiller, new gauges and a 23” shifter from Lokar, he’s a happy camper during the long hauls.
Since clocking up the first of many kilometres, Brett had changed rolling stock from chrome smoothies to basic black steelies and moon discs and updated the Cleveland block from 302ci to 351. Backed by a C4 Auto and nine inch diff the all Ford combination delivers reliable roadstering back and forth to Newman in the Pilbara, roughly 1167 clicks from Perth. Miles are one thing that Brett and his open deuce are not afraid of, as they amassed 2,500 km in six days either side of Christmas just gone.
Dubbed “Big Dirty”, he’s also not scared of spicing up his time behind the wheel either attending the Centenary of racing in Lake Perkolilli, where the red dust racers broke Australian speed records and where Australasian motor championships were run on the all but forgotten clay pan race track 23klm outside of Kalgoorlie. On a one man mission, Brett arrived with his roadster loaded down with his makeshift camp akin to the Beverly Hillbillies and proceeded to strip the ’32 down to its bare form for racing. Brett was aware that some of his roadsters components would outlaw him from official competition but he got busy removing fenders, running boards, head lights and everything else to make it look like a salt flat racer.
“The rules state that all parts must pre 1942, but it didn’t bother me as I just thought it would be cool putting around for three days. When I stripped the car down they noticed my enthusiasm and let me participate in the parade laps on the Friday… then it rained in the afternoon resulting in a mad rush to get the roadster back together and off the lake before clay became mud eventually cancelling the event. It was lively watching everyone pack up and disappear before the next rain front as I pieced my car back together and put my campsite back on it. It took a couple of hours by myself.”
Brett drives his roadster everywhere unless it’s freezing cold or torrential rain, but then he’s also got an ’83 Hilux dual cab with baby moons, beauty rings and oh a 3.8 litre and 5 speed that he says is proven to be a fun sleeper. He also has a ’81 Mini Clubman from South Africa tucked away but that’s another story!