Bruce Olson's 1932 Ford

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The coupe as it sat when Bruce bought it in 1954. He purchased it from the original owner in Beach, North Dakota, and he had to pay $40 for the old coupe. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
The inspiration for Bruce's coupe came from a featured story on Lynn Yakel's 1932 Ford 5-Window coupe in Trend Book 102 Hot Rods from 1951.
Bruce's coupe as it appeared in 1955. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Bruce's coupe as it sat in 1957. By then the car had been chopped 2 1/2 inches. This version was also shaved for door handles. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Bruce with the coupe in 1958. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
A photo of the engine taken in 1958, by then the 331 ci Chrysler Hemi engine had been fit with four Stromberg 97's and chrome engine "dress up" accessories. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Late August 1958 Bruce flat-towed the coupe from Beach to Oklahoma City to participate in the 4th annual NHRA Nationals Championship Drag Races. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
The coupe at the NHRA Nationals in September of 1958. It ran in the "B Altered Coupe" class where it achieved a 13.40 ET with a top speed of 107 mph. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
The coupe back in Beach after the 1958 NHRA Nationals. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
A color photo of Bruce with the coupe in the late 1950s. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
A photo of the coupe taken in front of John G. Mattos Elementary in Fremont, California in 1963. 2 years old Todd Olson is sitting in the car. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Late in 1963 the car had received molded and bobbed Model A fenders, a custom aluminum hood by Jack Hagemann, and a 1956 Cadillac "Mandan Red" paint job by Art Billings. This version was also fit with magnesium American Racing LeMans Torq Thrust wheels up front. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
By 1964 the coupe had been fit with American Racing Torq Thrust wheels in the rear as well. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
In the late 1960s Bruce ran Goodyear Blue Streak tires on all four corners. This version had also been fit with polished M/T valve covers, a drilled and chromed front suspension and chromed King Bee headlights. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
The coupe all polished up in July of 1969, ready for Andy Brizio's 3rd Annual Picnic. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
A photo of Bruce's coupe from the 3rd annual Andys Picnic was published in Rod & Custom November 1969. Photo by Andy Southard Jr., courtesy of Rod & Custom Magazine.
A photo of the coupe from Andy's Instant Picnic in August of 1972 was published in Street Rodder December 1972. Photo courtesy of Street Rodder Magazine.
Another photo of the coupe from one of Andys Picnic's in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
The coupe in front of the Water Temple in Sunol, California in 1973. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
An interior shot from 1973. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
A staged photo of the coupe in front of a 1950s filling station on Main St. in Pleasanton, California. Bill Burnham's 1929 Ford Model A roadster and Clark Kiber's 1929 Ford Model A roadster is also part of the shot. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
A staged 1950s drag race photo of the coupe appeared as a centerfold in the 1996 Thaxton Press book "Goodguys Hot Rod Chronicles." In the photo, Bruce is running against Bill Burnham's 1929 Ford Model A roadster.
The coupe with a fresh red 1956 Cadillac "Mandan Red" paint job at the 25th annual Grand National Roadster Show in 1973. This version featured new Goodyear tires and chromed headers built by Sanderson. It placed 3rd in the class and walked away with "Best NSRA Car." Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
A photo of the coupe from the 1973 Grand National Roadster Show appeared in Street Rodder July 1974.
The coupe in a Nor-Cal Early Iron club display at the 20th annual San Mateo Car Show in 1974. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Bruce's coupe at a Nor-Cal Early Iron display at the Southland Mall Show in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Bruce's three kids with the coupe at the 1975 West Coast Mini Nationals in Lodi, California. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
The coupe on the streets of Glenmoor in September of 1975. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Bruce with the coupe at the North Dakota border in the Summer of 1980. He took the "long route" on his way to the NSRA Nats in Memphis to visit family in Minnesota, and this was the first time the coupe returned to North Dakota after Bruce left the Midwest in 1962. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
This photo of the coupe at the 1981 NSRA Western Nats in Santa Maria, California appeared in Rod Action October 1981. Photo courtesy of Rod Action Magazine.
A photo of Bruce's coupe taken at the 13th annual Andy's Picnic was published in Colorod Nr 1 1980, a Swedish magazine. Photo courtesy of Colorod Magazine.
Bruce racing the coupe at the 2nd annual Street Rod Drags at the Fremont Drag Strip May 2, 1982. It ran a 13.67 ET at 97 mph on this pass. Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s Bruce ran the coupe at several Fremont Dragstrip events. His best pass at Fremont was 12.87 ET at 108mph. Todd remembers that it always had trouble getting off the line. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
In 1991 Pat Ganahl and Gary Baskerville did a story on Bruce and his coupe. The story was entitled "Coupe-Tinuum" and it appeared Rod & Custom December 1991.
The HEMI32 coupe in an artwork for the 25th annual Andy's Picninc in 1991.
A photo of Todd's coupe taken in Pleasanton in 1995. Photo courtesy of Ian Cross.
The HEMI32 coupe in front of the Behring Auto Museum in 1996. This version of the coupe featured Fish aluminum Halibrand look a like wheels. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
The HEMI32 coupe at the 20th Goodguys West Coast Nationals in August of 2006. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.
Every August since 1991, Todd Olson has been picking a car for The "Deuce Bruce" Olson Memorial Award at the Goodguys West Coast Nationals in memory of his father. Photo courtesy of Todd Olson.


1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe owned and built by Bruce Olson of Beach, North Dakota. Bruce bought the coupe, without an engine, from the original owner in 1954. He was 18 years old at the time, and paid 40 $ for the 22 years old car. Bruce really wanted a roadster, but after looking around for a roadster project from 1951 to 1953 he came to the conclusion that Ford didn't sell many roadsters in North Dakota. The old timers told him it was too cold. The fenders, hood, bumpers, and more were scrapped, before Bruce channeled the body 6 inches over the frame up front, and about 8 inches in the rear. A 1953 Chrysler 331 Hemi was bought for $150 and installed before the build was back on the road again in 1955. Bruce's inspiration for the build, and the reason why he decided to buy a coupe, came from a featured story on Lynn Yakel's 1932 Ford 5-Window coupe in Trend Book 102 Hot Rods from 1951. "I wanted to build it as close as possible to Yeakel's car - flathead and all" said Bruce in a letter to Rod & Custom magazine editor Pat Ganahl. "I really liked a pumped flathead, but my dad thought I should consider an overhead. The final decision was either a nailhead Buick or a Hemi. I picked the Hemi, and it has had one in it ever since." The first version was flat black, and it featured no exhaust, no interior, and no license plate. "The cops loved it" according to Bruce.[1] There were no hot rod and custom car clubs in that part of North Dakota at the time, so Bruce didn't belong to any clubs. Later on Bruce chopped the top 2.5", a milder chop than Lynn Yakel, who had taken 3.5" out of the roof.[2]


In 1956 - 1957 Bruce served in the US Nay on USS Lexington. While temporarily stationed at NAS Alameda he had Hall Upholstery in Oakland stitch up a black and white tuck and roll upholstery for the car.[2] Bruce became real good at changing transmissions and rear ends in the coupe. The Ford toploaders wouldn't take much of the Hemi, and after 7 or 8 transmission changes, Bruce decided to install a Packard transmission in the car instead. Later on he installed a Pontiac/Oldsmobile rear end, and a LaSalle transmission. This combination solved Bruce's driveline problems.[1]


After the Navy, Bruce went to the University of North Dakota for a year. In 1958 he attended the NHRA Nationals in Oklahoma City with the coupe. Competing in the B/Altered class he turned 13.40 at 107 mph.[2]


Bruce met his future wife in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1959. They got married in January of 1960, and moved to St. Louis Park, Minnesota. In August of 1961 they had their first born son Todd. In December of 1962 the family decided to move to Fremont, California. The coupe came along in the move. Late in 1963 it had received molded and bobbed Model A fenders, a rolled rear pan, Pontiac blue-dot taillights, a custom aluminum hood by Jack Hagemann, and a 1956 Cadillac "Mandan Red" paint job by Art Billings. This version was also fit with magnesium American Racing LeMans Torq Thrust wheels up front, and full Moon discs in the rear. Later on American Racing LeMans Torq Thrust were installed in the rear as well, along with a new set of slicks. The slicks were good for a 1/2 second improvement in e.t.[2]


Around 1970, Bruce became a founding member of the Nor-Cal Early Iron club. He attended shows and races all over the US with the coupe, and it appeared in several magazines in the 1960s and 1970s. When he attended shows the whole family used to tag along in the car. In 1973 the coupe was shown at the Grand National Roadster Show, featuring a fresh 1956 Cadillac "Mandan Red" paint job. It placed 3rd in the class, and Bruce walked away with an award for the "Best NSRA Car."[2]


In 1975 Bruce and his son Todd replaced the 1953 Chrysler Hemi and LaSalle transmission with a newer 1958 Chrysler Imperial 392 HEMI engine and a 1969 Dodge HEMI Torqueflite transmission with a B&M manual shift valve body. The engine was an A-1 block with a .060 overbore and 404-plus inches. He kept the four Stromberg 97 carburetors that were fed from a fuel block attached to the newly polished aluminum firewall. In the same operation, the '32 steering was also replaced by a VW van unit. The majority of this work was performed at Don Stortroen's "DONZ" custom oil pan and race-car fabrication shop in the Warm Springs district of Fremont. Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s Bruce ran the coupe at several Fremont Dragstrip events. His best pass at Fremont was 12.87 ET at 108mph. Todd remembers that it always had trouble getting off the line.[2]


In October of 1990, cancer claimed Bruce's life. In August of 1991 his ashes were scattered over the Bonneville salt flats during the Speed Week event. The same year, Pat Ganahl and Gary Baskerville did a story on Bruce and his coupe for Rod & Custom Magazine. The story was entitled "Coupe-Tinuum" and it appeared Rod & Custom December 1991. The same issue also had a feature on Clif Inman's 1957 Chrysler custom that Bruce once owned, and an article about Speed Week 1991, which included a photo of the Thomas-Walsh-Walsh-Cusak "333" roadster that Bruce's urn were strapped in duct taped to the roll bar behind John Walsh as he drove to a 2-way average of 213.853 mph. Bruce's son Todd become the caretaker of the "HEMI32" coupe on his 32nd birthday. Every August since 1991 Todd has been picking a car for The "Deuce Bruce" Olson Memorial Award at the Goodguys West Coast Nationals in memory of his father. Todd still owned the coupe in 2014.[2]


Magazine Features and Appearances

Rod & Custom November 1969
Street Rodder December 1972
Street Rodder July 1974
Colorod Nr 1 1980
Rod Action October 1981
Rod & Custom December 1991


References



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