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1932 Ford 'Deucenberg V8' wins Ridler award

Mon, 09 Mar 2009

A head-turning burgundy 1932 Ford B400 took home top honors at Detroit's Autorama on Sunday, winning the coveted Ridler award over seven other finalists.

Dubbed the "Deucenberg V8," the car is designed to be an elegant hot rod, drawing on cues from the luxurious Duesenbergs of that era. It has an aluminum lift-off roof with cloth top, suicide doors, a stretched hood and leather interior. Power comes from a 405-hp LS6 engine.

The car took about four years to develop and build. It's loaded with a number of custom features, including a narrowed grille and cowls designed to look like the Ford's 1933 style--which sets off the front end; angled A- and B-pillars and even one-off bolts for the bumpers.

"This car is literally unique, and it has one-off parts from bumper to bumper," said owner Doug Cooper of Oyster Bay Cove, N.Y., who owns nine '32 Fords.

The Ford was built by Alan Johnson of Johnson's Hot Rod Shop of Gadsden, Ala. The win was especially sweet for him, as 12 years ago he built a 1932 Ford cabriolet that made it to Autorama's Great Eight but failed to win top honors. Ironically, it's now owned by Cooper.

Competition for the Ridler, which has been given out since 1964 and is considered one of hot rodding's highest awards, was again fierce. It comes with $10,000 cash, a new General Motors Performance Parts engine, jacket and trophy. Organizers said 30 cars were entered this year. The field is cut to the Great Eight--which carries a $1,000 prize, jacket and trophy--before the Ridler is chosen.


The award is particularly prestigious, because cars must be making their first show appearance anywhere to be eligible. It's drawn plenty of car luminaries, including Chip Foose, who's won it three times. Many owners now resort to revolving displays accented by mirrors, and specs are often shown in wide-screen TVs.

The seven cars that fell short of the Ridler were nearly as perfect as Cooper's deuce coupe, and many just as eye-catching. The rest of the contenders were:

-- 1941 Willys coupe: Another high-brow rod, this one was dubbed the "Elegant Lady" and has chrome wheels, flashy purple exterior and an inside lit only by several ambient gauges while on display. Output is said to be 750 hp.

-- 1956 Chevy 210: Maybe the single gaudiest car of the Great Eight, this rod has 20 different colors--most notably orange and purple--and checks in with a claimed estimate of more than 1,000 hp.

-- Another 1941 Willys: This one is orange and chrome. With 700 hp, it's nicknamed the "Blown Budget."

-- 1939 Ford convertible: Clad in military greens, this rod has a 385-hp engine and cloth roof.

-- 1940 Ford two-door sedan: This orange machine has huge running boards, gangster wheels, leather insides and chrome floor shifter.

-- 1935 Ford: The hot rod has a brown exterior and matching interior.

-- 1933 Ford cabriolet: An orange speedster with a Hemi engine, this car has an exposed front suspension, suicide doors and huge chrome air filter.

By Greg Migliore