Passing the Deuce: A Special Deuce and its Special Owners

A s time progresses, we realize that all our toys will be passed on to relatives or they will find a new home. One such car is 1950s hot rodder Bill Marshall’s 1932 Ford roadster. But first, a little history on this special person and his special 1932 Ford.

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Bill Marshall’s roadster during its 1957 build-up, when the red paint was replaced by black.

The man

Bill Marshall was one of the founding members of the Bay Area Roadsters from 1959-’85. He was also the founding member of the Golden Gate Roadsters, which is represented on the back of the car today. With his 1932 Ford, Marshall also participated in the first 25 years of Roadster Roundups, a meeting of six roadster clubs that started in 1965 and continues gathering annually.

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Marshall’s backyard in 1965, when he was installing a 401-cid Buick engine into his roadster. The “Tall T” project in the foreground was receiving the engine from Marshall’s Deuce.

In 1985, Marshall had some health issues, which caused the beautiful roadster to be stored in a heat-controlled garage. The car remained in storage from 1985 until 2007 with minimal driving, just to keep it fresh.

The Deuce

The known history of Marshall’s Deuce starts in 1955 at Travis Air Force Base, where the car was found. The roadster, which has become known as the “Bill Marshall Deuce,” originated in Santa Ana, Calif., and featured removed door handles, a chopped top and chromed dropped front axle.

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More mayhem in Marshall’s backyard during the engine swap.

From there, it was sold in 1958 to Virgil Baker of Baker’s Upholstery in Fairfield, Calif. Later that year, it was purchased by Marshall, who lives in Vacaville, Calif. Since purchasing the car in 1958, Marshall has kept every registration along with the original black California license plates (ADF 873).

In 1959, the car was painted in Marshall’s double car garage with 20 coats of hand-rubbed R&M black nitrocellulose lacquer paint. The car was upholstered in 1959 by Joe Colatti of Joe’s Top Shop in Napa, Calif., with white hand-rolled Naugahyde. This car still wears the paint and upholstery very well today.

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The fully fendered Deuce. as it appeared in the 1960s, and most of its life.

When Marshall built the car in 1959, he installed a Buick “nailhead” V-8 engine with a ’39 Ford transmission coupled to a ’48 Ford rear end. In 1966, the engine and transmission were changed out to a 1965 Buick 401-cid V-8 and Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 transmission that was removed from a new Buick Wildcat that was hit in the rear after only 900 miles. At that time, a 1957 Ford nine-inch rear end was also installed. Today, the deuce has only 47,682 original miles.

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Marshall’s roadster on the cover of “Hot Rods & Customs of the 1960s” by Andy Southard, Jr.

In 1960, the car won a Best Paint award at an event in Los Angeles against tough competitors such as the Barris brothers, Joe Bailon, Bill Cushenbery, Blackie Gejeian and Darryl Starbird, to name a few. In 1965, the car won the Award of Excellence at the Grand National L.A. Custom Car Show. Over the years, the Deuce was featured in many car shows in the ’60s, and it has won just about every award possible.

These crowd-pleasing features didn’t get past the media of the day, and the car was featured in many magazines. More recently, this beautiful roadster was featured in Andy Southard’s book “Hot Rods & Customs of the 60s,” and was also on the cover of the Capitol Records album “Hot Rod Rally.

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Forty-eight years later, Marshall re-created the pose with his Deuce in the same location Andy Southard Jr. had used many years earlier.

Marshall’s Deuce was also one of the cars that inspired Monogram to build a big 1:8 plastic model of a 1932 Ford hot rod in 1963.

Vintage hot rods with documented provenance, such as Marshall’s roadster, are extremely rare. Even rarer yet are those cars that remain in as-built configuration, and are still in very good condition. The car is a true piece of hot rod history from the 1950s and ’60s.

Passing the torch

The historical importance of Marshall’s roadster didn’t get past Rick and Cheryl Rennebohm. They were also in the right place and at the right time when Marshall decided it was time to pass the torch and sell his roadster after owning it for nearly 50 years.

Rick Rennebohm, who is a real “car guy,” struck a deal with Marshall for the roadster, and when it arrived at the Rennebohms’ Washington home, the car’s trunk was packed with all of the trophies, slides, photos and original Bay Area Roadster club shirt from Marshall and the Deuce.

Rennebohm truly appreciates the car’s history and patina. His plans call for driving and enjoying Marshall’s pride and joy.

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