Custom Car Chronicle
hot rodsThe Tom Nielsen Collection

Low Profile Deuce




Thirty-two Fords have always been at the forefront of the “hotrod movement” which began in the 1940’s. Here is an example of one of the more nicely modified three-window coupes built in the late fifties in Oregon.

By Tom Nielsen

One of the more famous customs to be built in the great Pacific Northwest was Ron Courtney’s sectioned X-51 Ford coupe. The Rod and Custom cover car (March 1958) caused quite a lot of excitement when it was first completed by Ron Courtney. Restored to its early custom condition it is still making an impact today.



CCC-low-profile-deuce-Ron-Courtney-x51Courtney’s sectioned ’51 coupe used many original and tasteful modifications to give it a very “modern” appeal for 1958.

Porter’s body shop in Mc Minnville, Oregon where Ron Courtney’s X-51 was built had a reputation as a top quality custom shop. There were other fine customs that Ron had a hand in completing that most people aren’t aware of.

Delane Smith’s 1951 Ford

A very nice custom ’51 Ford four door sedan owned by DeLane Smith of Mc Minnville was built about the same time as the X-51. His’51 four door was featured in three small pages magazines.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-07Delane Smith’s 1951 Ford sedan built at Porter’s showcases Ron Courtney’s design and metalworking skills.

I was researching information about Delane’s car and received some pictures of a very sleek looking Deuce coupe.
This unique three-window coupe owned by Delane’s friend, Scott Hamilton. The car also emerged from Porter’s Body Shop about the time that Delane was customizing his ’51 Ford. Scott’s coupe also received the “magic touch” of Ron Courtney.

Being a fan of ’32 three window coupes myself, I was struck by the profile of this remarkable thirty-two. I really liked that the low look was achieved by chopping and channeling, but at the same time keeping the full fenders on it.

Scott Hamilton 32 Ford

Here is Scott’s story of this great looking ’32 3 window coupe that he owned as a young “car guy” living in McMinnville, Oregon in the late fifties.
In the bginning……
“I originally bought the car from a guy who was up here from California and was in need of cash…can’t recall what I paid for it but it was relatively little. It had a fairly stock body with a mildly dropped axle, hopped up flathead and big rubber on the rear. It also had a really nice metal flaked green paint job and nicely done rolled and pleated interior. What possessed me to tear into it, only a sixteen year old might understand. I don’t want to think about all the stages of dumb things I did to a perfectly good car.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-05Front profile shows off the lowered grille shell and small headlights on a dropped bar to keep everything in perspective.

I kicked up the rear of the frame about three inches and channeled the body and raised the rear wheel wells and fenders accordingly. I had raised the rear of the engine to level out the driveline. This necessitated putting a driveline tunnel in the floorboards and re-doing the firewall.
As you’ve probably guessed, Ron Courtney was responsible for much of the good bodywork, like chopping the top and saving me from making a mess of the rear wheel wells. As I recall he made one of the front fenders out of pieces of three really ugly ones….. The bad part was that it was full fendered when I bought the car, of course I sold all the fenders when I decided to channel it. After running it with motorcycle fenders for a while (they were prone to falling off) I decided to put them back on for phase two.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-03Scotts checks out the “hot” ’46-’48 flathead mill.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-08Custom made one-piece hood hides some of the “chrome bling” underneath.  The hood had yet to be painted to match the rest of the car.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-04Wonderful looking interior with a custom dash insert and very nice small pleats done in all white.  This is a “look” that is still popular in traditional rods today.

Phase two came about from my “horse trading” for a partially built Model A roadster. The guy had been meticulously collecting components when a divorce forced him to get rid of it.(Not sure if the it had anything to do with the divorce) Anyway, that is where I got the chrome front end and all kinds of goodies.
The upholstery was done by a local shop and I probably did the rest.
I don’t think that I talked Delane into doing very much sanding but he may remember it differently. There were a bunch of us that spent way too much time at Porter’s Body Shop, where Ron worked. It’s amazing that he got anything done at all.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-01Profile view of Scott’s coupe is especially appealing.  Notice the raised rear wheel wells to match the channeled body.

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-02It doesn’t get any better than this picture of Scott’s deuce parked by a “new” 1957 Olds! It also illustrates how low the ’32 was after the chop and channeling.

My car was never in any shows or magazines. I went in the Army before it was truly finished. All the shows and the magazine activity occurred while I was in the service. We were involved in building sports racers later on, that’s a whole other story.”

CCC-low-profile-deuce-tom-nielsen-06Three-window coupes were the only ’32 Ford offered with “suicide doors”.  Scott stands proudly by his “cool coupe”!

In a letter from Scott he told me that he sold the coupe in 1959-60 with a blown up engine and the next owner put a Dodge or a Chrysler in it. Then it was torn apart and left in boxes for many years.
About twelve years ago Scott heard that the current owners were in the process of removing the channel, installing a new frame, but keeping it chopped. We don’t know much beyond that report.



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Tom Nielsen

Tom Nielsen is a long time Custom Car fan with wonderful collection of photos of 1940's to 1960's custom cars. He loves to share his collection and to tell stories about them.

One thought on “Low Profile Deuce

  • Glad to see a ’32 included in the traditional custom fold. The chop and channel of a ’32 totally changed its profile, and created a long, low, “sinister” serious look. It WAS custom. And “hot rod” and “custom” lines can’t be distinguished in the ’32, for for that matter, the ’36. Especially, those 3-window cars with a chop. Tom, you’re dead on; this one was perfectly executed for “the look”. Thanks for sharing.

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