David Donaldson's 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe
(from Volume 23, Issue 275)

story by owner David Donaldson, photos by Michael B. Kelly


In 1950, in Wenatchee, Washington, like any other city, the average 5 year old boy wants a bike, a mitt/bat/and ball, and/or a puppy. Not David Donaldson, he wanted a ‘32 Ford 5-Window Coupe. All of his father’s post WWII high school students had no money for new cars, so they owned “GOW Jobs” with “souped up” flat motors. His favorite one was a ‘32 Ford 5-Window Coupe with a very worn out red paint job, plain black steel wheels and white walls, a “flatty” with two carbs, and straight pipes.

Well, years passed and David built some rods and bought some rods, with the last purchase being made about ten years ago. He acquired the “L.A. Lady” as he has named her, from a Hollywood movie industry tech who retired from Los Angles and moved to Lake Havasu, Arizona. David says that good things will come to those who wait….he did….it only took 56 years!

His all steel full fendered Deuce Coupe was built in 1932 by the Ford Motor Co. and has been a hot rod since the 60’s, sporting various engines. The current engine is a 1955 Chrysler Fire Power 331 cubic inch Hemi fitted with Jahn’s 10.5:1 pistons, Clay Smith cam, Hot Heads manifold with a Holley 570 Street Avenger carb, ceramic coated exhaust manifolds, Mallory fully mechanical advance distributor with PerTronix ignition module; and it’s cooled by a Walker four row radiator. Modern upgrades to the engine include a big block Chevrolet water pump, GM alternator, Chrysler 360 starter and a spin-on oil filter. These are all parts that can be purchased at any local auto parts store.

Up front on the boxed frame is a 2-1/2 inch dropped 1932 axle mounted with a Pete & Jakes four bar setup. The front disc brakes and steering box are from a 1967 Mustang. A GM TH-400 transmission and 8-inch Ford rear end with parallel leaf springs complete the driveline. It’s riding on 15-inch Wheel Vintique wheels fitted with small hubcaps and beauty rings, plus big and little Diamondback white walls. The gas tank is an aftermarket 20-gallon stainless replacement from Rock Valley, and the 3-gallon Moon tank mounted on the front is fully functional and used as a reserve tank.

In 1994 the body was bead blasted and all bodywork was repaired at “George Barris Kustom Industries”. During the stripping process, it was noted that this car had been painted various shades of yellow four different times. As progress was being made on the car, Barris provided photos and letters documenting the repairs that were being made. Barris then primered the car with red oxide. In 2003 it was again painted yellow using PPG “Lemon Ice”.
Modifications to the body include custom made Nerf Bars (front and rear), 1934 Ford headlight stands, 1937 Ford taillights, and it retains its working cowl vent. Von Dutch style pinstripes add an “Old Skool” look to the car. The blistered hood side panels were hand fabbed and hammer welded by David’s friend “Kiwi Paul” from New Zealand.

Driver comforts include a 1972 Olds tilt column with leather banjo steering wheel, power windows, all new glass, Vintage Air, new Classic gauges and a super AM/FM/CD/USB stereo system with four speakers. The 6-way power driver’s seat and manual passenger seat came from an Acura, and the Coupe was upholstered with tan colored Ultra Suede and vinyl with matching painted window frames. The yellow dashboard has been autographed by some very notable Drag Racing Legends.

This is NOT a “Trailer Queen”, she’s a real “Old Skool Hot Rod” that has earned her stripes on the mean streets of L.A. You can get in, turn the key and drive it anywhere. Like the old saying goes, “If you see this car on a trailer, call 911 because it’s being stolen”. CN