Modern Rodding FEATURE
That Old-Time Feelin' title
The ’32 Ford Three-Window Highboy Coupe Brings Back Dry Lakes Memories
By Brian BrennanPhotography by John Jackson

egardless of your age, if you are into old-timey hot rods then you know of and understand the look of many of the dry lakes–era hot rods. Dale Grau of Minnesota has been around modified cars for many decades and appreciates the hot rods of the dry lakes era. Presented on these pages is his Brookville Roadster–bodied ’32 Ford three-window highboy coupe, one of 19 Deuce hot rods he owns. He built this one to honor the classic dry lakes imagery as well as to drive and enjoy.

brown ’32 Ford with the number 428 on the side
brown leather seats in a ’32 Ford
steering and dash in a ’32 Ford
speedometer in a ’32 Ford
Dale enjoyed working with Darin Lenk of Lenksters Custom Garage (LCG) out of St. Cloud, Minnesota, for the “added” expertise required to build a hot rod to this level of creativity, workmanship, and fit and finish. While the Deuce coupe does look like all things old-timey, its cornerstone—the body and chassis—is “fresh.” For instance, the body is a Brookville Roadster three-window coupe that features a 4-inch top chop (with an original cut down windshield) and a pair of ’29 Dodge side cowl vents all handled by Lenk. Also, a Brookville decklid with 116 louvers (yes, we counted), and a Snap-on top insert by Rapid Upholstery, are visible. Adding to the sheetmetal presentation is the original four-panel hood and grille shell with the shell featuring a “Speed Queen” emblem. The emblem came from an old washing machine and since his wife Elvis (yes you read that correctly) is nicknamed “Queen” it wasn’t much of a leap to add the word “Speed”—hence, Speed Queen. Much of the metalwork was handled by Lenk, the bodywork was handled by Scot Lardy, and from here the Deuce coupe was painted in Sikkens Winterleaf Brown by Autobody 2000. The graphics include “Speed Queen Deluxe” on the top hood panels, “Lenksters Custom Garage” script on the rear quarter-panels, and “428” numbers on the doors by Cliff Anderson of Cliff Anderson Design. The lighting is a combination of body-mounted ’47 Kaiser taillights and Guide headlights attached to a custom dropped headlight bar that is installed on frame-mounted stands. Nestled between the headlights is a vintage EELCO 2-gallon spun aluminum gas tank that now serves as a radiator overflow, as the “real” Lenk-fabricated gas tank is trunk mounted.

All this reverence to vintage hot rodding rests on additional modern metal with the frame based on freshly minted American Stamping ’rails that were assembled by Rjays Speed Shop (Butler, Missouri). While at Rjays the ’rails received the obligatory hot rod mods via boxing plates, tubular crossmembers, and a Model A rear crossmember. The bobbed and pinched ’rails were more Lenk handiwork.

close up of behind a ’32 Ford
inside the trunk of a ’32 Ford
rear of a brown ’32 Ford with the number 428 on the side
The next stop was LCG where Lenk drilled the SO-CAL Speed Shop 4-inch drop axle and then fit it with stock ’32 spindles. The braking system is comprised of ’39 Lincoln brakes in front, Ford drums in the back, and then operated by a firewall-mounted ’60 Chevy truck master cylinder and Rjays pedal assembly. Also added were MG sporty car front lever action shocks, Vega steering with a Speedway Motors column, and in back a Model A buggy spring working with, once more, MG lever action shocks and a Winters V-8 quick-change running a final gear of 3.78. To this, a T5 five-speed manual, with an Alan Johnson shifter, backs up to the small-block Chevy that runs along at a “peaceful” 1,800 rpm at 75 mph.

You will find a full set of Ford wire wheels but with a little bit of a mix-and-match grouping. In front, you will see ’35 Ford 16-inch wires while in back you will find ’33 Ford 17-inch wires that were widened several inches by Lenk. Wrapped around the vintage wires are the Coker-produced Excelsior Stahl radial rubber by way of Speedway Motors; 4.50×16 and 7.50×17, respectively.

engine in a ’32 Ford
tank attachment on a ’32 Ford
drivers side of a brown ’32 Ford with the number 428 on the side
passenger side of a brown ’32 Ford with the number 428 on the side
Inside there is plenty to look at, beginning with a pair of Paul Wright (Texas) custom aluminum bucket seats. From here the aluminum buckets showcase elk leather stitched in greenish-brown cushions by Rapid Upholstery with rubber floor mats. The aluminum door and kick panels display more of Lenk’s artistry. The factory stock dash is now fitted with a Phoenix Machine (Wisconsin) custom gauge insert. From here Auto Meter’s six-pack of instruments fills the holes, as do a pair of pull-knobs to operate the headlights; beneath the dash is a subpanel that houses all the operational switches as well as the horn button. Other noteworthy interior appointments include the Speedway Motors steering column that is dash-mounted with a drop featuring more of Dale’s handiwork. There is also an auxiliary turn-signal switch added to the column along with a custom four-spoke wheel by Lenk. Dale handled the wiring, bringing all the electrics to life.

Although not vintage by the hot rod’s depicted era, the small-block Chevy V-8 is considered vintage given it’s an ’87 iron block sporting a mild 0.030-inch overbore. The small-block was built at Magnum Engines. The SBC is mounted to the frame with a pair of very cool “claw” engine mount pads that come through the efforts of Jokerr Fabrication (Indiana). The vintage, black, wrinkle-finish, cast-aluminum valve covers come by way of PML and reside on top of the iron heads that also feature factory ram’s-horn exhaust. The intake is an early Edelbrock as noted by the oil fill tube; note the sock, an old trick to catch blowby that would otherwise “gunk up” the engine compartment. The Edelbrock four-barrel rests under the early stock air cleaner and has its gas lit by an electronic PerTronix ignition system running through a modern alternator. The battery is trunk-mounted and rests in its own fabricated aluminum box adjacent to the gas tank. All the aluminum trunk effort is more of Lenk’s accomplishments. The remainder of the exhaust system, which includes the glasspack mufflers, was custom fabricated by Fat Joe Racing.

Oh, in closing, if you are wondering why the number “428” is on the door, it’s Dale’s birthday, April 28. Now you know the “rest of the story.”

Modern Rodding
VOLUME 5 • ISSUE 42 • 2024