1932 Ford three-window coupe

It's been a long time coming, but Beppie Pistone has created a masterpiece thanks to some of the best in the business

Photographers: Tim Sutton

I FIRST spotted Beppie Pistone’s ’32 coupe in 2013 while hanging out with Sam Strube, a Nor-Cal hot rodder, just before the Goodguys event in Pleasanton. I’d already checked out the then bare-metal three-window to admire its chop, stance and tough Ford motor, when Sam said: “Have a look underneath it.” Getting down on my hands and knees to get a proper look, it wasn’t the Halibrand or neat exhaust system that caught my eye, it was the fully painted chassis and floor – by Darryl Hollenbeck, no less – that featured panels, cobwebbing and pinstriping. It was quite obvious that this car was destined for greater things.

This article on Beppie’s Ford coupe was first published in Street Machine’s Hot Rod #19 magazine, 2018

I reckon it’s high time that late 60s-style hot rods got a bit more love, and it’s hard to go past Beppie’s coupe as a perfect example. As it turns out, it’s a genuine 60s hot rod that has always been a San Francisco Bay Area car, but it didn’t look anything like this when Beppie bought it 17 years ago.

Beppie reckons I’m the first person to pick the mild channel job, which is just the depth of the body reveal

“The only thing left from that car is the body, steering wheel and parts of the frame,” he says. “It was in primer, the frame rails were powder blue, it had a 350 Chevy motor with a Turbo 350, split wishbones, nine-inch rear end, whitewalls with chrome rims, and it just wasn’t my style – I’ve always liked hot rods with mags, four-speeds, quick-changes. And I’m a Ford guy, so I ended up putting a stroker 351 Windsor in it.”

One thing that Beppie didn’t change about the car was the roof chop, which was done back in the 60s. It measures up around three inches, a touch more in the front according to Bill Ganahl from South City Rod & Custom. Bill and the South City crew were tasked with finishing this car in time for this year’s Grand National Roadster Show, and that was the second time I got to see the car in person.

There’s no shortage of louvres on Beppie’s car, with plenty on the hood and even more on the deck lid

I’d been keeping tabs on the build and was very keen to see it in the metal. Having already seen some of South City’s work at the Detroit Autorama, I knew they were going to do the coupe justice. With the car running and completely painted and detailed except for the body and interior, you’d expect it to be a fairly straightforward job for Bill and South City to finish it off. Yeah nah.

The gold carpet ties in nicely with the gold pearl in the Mahogany paintjob. In fact, everything on this car just ties together perfectly

“Beppie wanted to show it at GNRS, and you can’t really show a shitty car – you can’t even show a nice driver – at GNRS, it just has to be of a certain quality,” Bill tells us. “We actually mounted everything so that Joe [Compani] could paint the body without having to pull it back off the chassis. But of course, Beppie had put thousands of miles on the car and it was absolutely thrashed and worn out, so when he brought it back to finish it, I ended up disassembling and then rebuilding the whole thing.”

The brakes are Ford drums and the backing plates were once fitted to the ex-Tommy Ivo T-bucket when it was owned by Bill Roland

The entire process took less than 12 months, which is a pretty fair effort, but when you consider they also finished off two other cars – a ’57 Chevy and C10 pick-up – that both picked up trophies at the GNRS, it gives you a deeper appreciation for how hard those guys worked.

“We were pretty much on the same wavelength the whole time on the car,” says Beppie. “I never really had to say to Billy: ‘Hey, I don’t like this’ or ‘don’t do this’. I’d just bring him parts.”

Beppie’s wife Glynis bought this Moon tank as a present for him around 25 years ago at the GNRS when it was still at Oakland, long before he even had the car

The colour had been set in stone for quite a while, as evidenced by the painted chassis and grille shell in the bare metal pics, but the interior was non-existent, so Beppie had to make some decisions on that.

“Chris Plante, who upholstered it, and my wife Glynis basically kicked me out of the conversation,” Beppie says. “I wanted to do cream inserts with black and I got to say that much, but that was about it.

King Bee headlights are another period touch that tie in perfectly with the 60s style

They said: ‘You go outside, we’re going to have a pow-wow!’”

The colours they decided on were satin copper inserts with charcoal, and the combination works really well with the paint colour. No, it’s not Root Beer brown – it’s a colour that was also picked by Glynis.

And what’s under here? A Halibrand quick-change, of course, and custom ladder bars, panel paint, cobwebbing, pinstriping – just the usual stuff

“I used to be a commercial painter and did a lot of staining of wood, so she picked out Mahogany,” says Beppie. “My wife wasn’t an interior decorator or anything, but she’s pretty good with colours. A couple of my friends have asked her to pick out colours for their cars.”

A Ford in a Ford – a very tough 392ci Windsor to be precise. A Blue Thunder dual-quad intake mounts a couple of Holley 450cfm carbs

There’s a few other trick things going on with the interior as well. There’s the three pedals for a start, which are So-Cal Speed Shop parts, but they were a bit too large for the confines of the coupe’s footwell, so Beppie dropped them off to Roy Brizio Street Rods to have the diameter turned down in the lathe. The dash insert is a real special piece because it’s the first piece that Bill did for the car when he was still working at Brizio’s.

It’s pretty straightforward in here, although that’s a custom six-gauge panel built by Bill Ganahl. The wheel is a Cragar three-spoke, one of the few things unchanged over the years

“I had an original Stewart Warner Straight Five gauge panel, but I always wanted six gauges,” explains Beppie. “So I picked up a Hollywood panel – they’re squarer – and told Billy to cut the little ribs out of this gauge panel and put them in this and stretch it because I want to put six gauges in it. Guys ask me: ‘Where do you buy that?’”

Brizio’s did the initial chassis fabrication work a number of years ago, but for Beppie, the relationship with Roy Brizio and Bill Ganahl goes beyond a merely professional one.

“I went to school with Roy, so I’ve known Roy and the Brizios since I was 13 years old,” he says. “I remember when Billy first went to work for Roy. A lot of people think that he got where he is because of his father [legendary journo Pat Ganahl], but he walked into Roy’s shop looking for a job, he didn’t care what it was, and Roy put him to work pushing a broom. Everything he’s done, he’s done on his own. He doesn’t have a big head, like some builders.”

Yep, Beppie’s got three pedals and he uses them all. The loud pedal? That’s the one on the right

It’s clear that strong personal bonds were fortified during the building of this three-window stunner, and for Beppie that makes it all the more special. In trying to sum up how he feels about the car, he makes a telling comparision with his earliest automotive influence – his father.

There’s a Hurst shifter to row through the five-speed Tremec ’box, but personally, I think a white knob would have looked better

“My dad would build a car every year or two then he’d sell it to build a new idea,” he recalls. “He got more enjoyment out of building them, whereas I’m different – I build mine to drive. I don’t care who offered me what for the car, it would never be enough. All my friends helped me on the car, and at the end of the day, it means a lot to me that they helped so much.”


Paint: Mahogany

Type: 392ci Windsor
Inlet: Blue Thunder dual-quad
Carbs: Twin Holley 450
Heads: Ported iron
Cam: Lumpy
Crank: Stroker
Radiator: Walker
Exhaust: Sanderson headers, twin system
Ignition: MSD

’Box: Tremec TKO600 five-speed
Diff: Halibrand quick-change, 4.11:1 gears
Shifter: Black-knob Hurst

Front end: Dropped I-beam
Shocks: So-Cal tube (f), coil-overs (r)
Steering: Vega cross-steer
Brakes: Ford drums (f & r)

Rims: American Racing magnesium; 15×4 (f), 15×8.5 (r)
Rubber: Michelin XZX 145SR15 (f), Towel City cheater slick 28.5x10x15 (r)

Glynis and Steven Pistone; Mum and Dad; Bill Ganahl; Joe Compani; Roy Brizio; Darryl Hollenbeck; Karpo Murkijanian; Jack Stratton; Brandon Flaner; Donny Welch; Graeme Robinson; Jim Vickery; Ryan Campi; Dave Cattalini; Frank Wallic; Dean Scott; Matt Connolly; Lenny Ernani; Kurt Johns; Duane Evans; Phill Whetstone; Brad Lope