- Featured in Rod & Custom, November 1956
- Hot Rod Magazine cover car, October 1957
- Best in Class, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, 2007
- Named one of The 75 Most Significant ’32 Fords, 2007
- Featured in The Rodder’s Journal #41, Fall 2008
1953 DeSoto 291-cu. in. hemi V-8 with four carburetors and an Iskenderian camshaft, chopped four-in., modified rear fenders, Pontiac taillights, Stewart-Warner gauges, dropped axle, and Lincoln-Zephyr gears.
Lloyd Bakan’s chopped ’32 Ford three-window coupe, photographed alongside a swimming pool and flanked by two bathing beauties, graced one of the most memorable Hot Rod Magazine covers of all time. It had all the right stuff: DeSoto Hemi with a four-carb manifold and Isky cam, tan Naugahyde tuck and roll interior, Mercury Monterey steering wheel, and nine Stewart-Warner curved glass gauges in a custom dash panel. Pontiac taillights, artfully bobbed rear fenders, and custom nerf bars completed the picture.
The legendary Eric Rickman shot that famous Hot Rod cover while standing on a ladder in the swimming pool! With its big hemi mill and those two lovely ladies, the Lloyd Bakan coupe was the perfect hot rod fantasy.
Initially built in the early ’50s by Roger Long, with a 296-cu. in. “full house” Mercury flathead, the coupe appeared in Fawcett Publications’ Best Hot Rods in 1953. It then resurfaced in a four-page feature in Rod & Custom in November 1956, now owned by 22-year-old Lloyd Bakan, a Navy vet who lived in Eagle Rock, California. Bakan recalls buying the coupe from a man named Alan Johnson. By that time, painted powder blue, with bobbed rear fenders, the hammered deuce had received its 1/8-in. over-bored, 291, ’53 DeSoto Hemi, with chromed “Firedome Eight” valve covers. With that engine, attributed to noted builder, John Geraghty, the coupe turned 103 mph in the ¼-mile.
Geraghty’s crew modified the hemi heads to match a set of JE high-domed pistons and fitted a Weiand four-carb intake with a quartet of Stromberg 97s. The exhaust system, highlighted by external headers, was the handiwork of Dave Mitchell of Mitchell’s Muffler Shop in Pasadena. Chevy’s small-block had yet to make an impact, so that DeSoto V-8 was impressive. Altadena Auto Body fabricated new front and rear nerf bars, and rolled the rear fenders forward in the stock wheel arches so the flared portion was even with the fuel tank. Although some thought the coupe’s vivid color was a variation of 1954–1955 Buick Titian Red (often incorrectly called Tahitian) a popular hue in that era, it was a custom blend by the Altadena shop.
The Bakan coupe starred in Trend Book 160, the 1958 Hot Rod Annual, photographed by Jim Potter. The interior was described as being “rare imported leather from Turkey.” Reportedly, “the material alone cost $370.” A text panel read that the V-8 had been fitted with an Iskenderian cam. According to HRM, those modifications “ . . . give Bakan’s coupe the highly desirable oomph comparable to the hottest modern machinery on the road.”
Lloyd Bakan always said he enjoyed the notoriety this stunning car provided. “It wasn’t my first hot rod; it was actually the eighth car I’d had, but it was the best of them all.” Bakan attended many Southern California car shows, winning a total of 48 awards! Old programs from the 1958 Glendale Motorama and the 1959 Rod & Custom Motorama, presented by the Renegades of Long Beach, prove this cool coupe really got around.
Legendary painter Hershel “Junior” Conway recalled, “I first became aware of that car at a show in San Diego in late 1957. The finish was unbelievable; it was so striking. Lloyd put a lot of effort into that paint,” said Junior. “He was so finicky, he’d use Kleenex tissues to wipe it down, so he wouldn’t scratch the surface. And he towed the car to shows with his ’49 Cadillac!”
Although Bakan hit all the shows, his coupe was no ‘trailer queen.’ “I drove it all the time,” he recalled. “I’d make the rounds of all the Bob’s Big Boy drive-ins from Eagle Rock to Toluca Lake to Glendale. My coupe got a lot of attention; it was one of the star cars,” he remembers. “My friends called me ‘the hot rod king.’”
In the late 1950s, Bakan sold his multi–award-winning coupe to Richard Strock, from Southgate, California, who installed a 462-cu. in. Mark II Lincoln V-8, with a six-carb manifold, then commissioned Dean Jeffries to pinstripe it. George Barris and “Junior” Conway applied then-fashionable gold scallops, as noted in a Car Craft feature. The coupe was exhibited at the 1960 Grand National Roadster Show in Oakland. Two years later, Car Craft showed it with chromed reversed wheels.
The much-traveled Lloyd Bakan deuce was sold several more times, first to Steve Gilligan, from Vancouver, Washington, then John Potter. By this time, the coupe had a 327 Chevy with a four-speed. But Potter thought the car looked familiar. Looking at old magazines, he realized, because his car still had that distinctive dash, the nerf bars, and modified rear fenders. It was indeed the famed Lloyd Bakan three-window deuce coupe.
Potter and his friend Jim Donovan traded the coupe back and forth. Under Donovan’s tenure, the car was modified “back in time” with a hot three-carb flathead, built by Doug Louzon, who later bought the coupe and installed a SCoT-blown flathead. It appeared in the Portland Roadster Show program in 1980.
“The Bakan coupe was one of the coolest-looking cars ever,” Steve Gilligan believes. “Most people didn’t realize what it was,” he adds. “But my dad and I knew. The motors were swapped out many times, but the car itself never really changed – it still had most of its original pieces. Unfortunately, Doug had cancer, and he had to sell it.”
Working through Tim Cunha, who’d located the car, vintage racer and Pebble Beach Historic Hot Rod Class multiple winner Don Orosco—this car’s consignor—purchased the Bakan coupe from Doug Louzon, but it was missing its engine. Orosco tracked down Lloyd Bakan in Sacramento who “ . . . was elated to hear his old coupe had survived. Even though many years had passed, his family said he did nothing but talk about that car.”
“It was in really rough shape,” Orosco explained. “And it had been repainted an incorrect metallic maroon. The ravages of hard use were evident. The floor was torn up, and the doors drooped; but it still had the modified rear fenders, the original upholstery, and the nerf bars.”
“Olle Eriksson, in my shop, worked for a ton of time on that body,” Orosco remembers. “He took the rear fenders—Bakan had used fenders from an original Tudor sedan—and completely re-wheeled them to make them fit correctly.” Many of the Stewart-Warner instruments were missing, and they had to find a correct DeSoto V-8. They found the right one in Turner’s Wrecking Yard in Fresno. Jack Freese, in Salinas, rebuilt the engine. When Orosco heard there would be a special class at Pebble Beach, they really got to work. The rear panel that had been cut up for the Pontiac taillights was in terrible shape. Orosco’s crew saved as much original metal as possible, by cutting out the bad parts, then hammer-welding new panels. All the replacement pieces were made of used original Ford steel. “We didn’t take any poetic license,” said Orosco.
They had less than 14 months. Lloyd Bakan contributed a manila envelope stuffed with detail pictures and outtakes from the photo shoots. There were several pages of contact prints, and black and white negatives, just what they needed to see all the little details. Matching the custom color was one of the hardest tasks. Luckily, Andy Southard, the noted hot rod photographer, had photographed the Bakan coupe in period, in Kodachrome. And the film processing was done with Kodak chemicals. “I guarantee you,” Southard declared, “these photographs are exactly the color this car was in 1958.”
Orosco looked closely at Andy Southard’s Long Beach photographs and was inspired. “We had the paint custom mixed, then painted one of the cycle fenders and compared it with the photograph. Then we put clear on it, and that tinted the color a little darker. Over time, we experimented with four separate tints, then we added a clear coat and we overlaid it again. Each change made the color progressively darker.”
“Back in the 1950s,” Orosco explained, “Andy shot the car with a traditional flash. So we took that fender and we subjected it to a flash, then looked to see which of the four paint variants had the same sparkle that he’d achieved, years ago, with a flash. We wanted to match the same brilliance, but we had to closely approximate the color in shadow, as well. After experimenting a lot, we finally got a color we thought closely matched Andy’s actual photos.” And famed trimmer Tom Sewell did a remarkable job replicating the interior.
The Lloyd Bakan coupe competed in the ’32 Ford 75th Anniversary Historic Hot Rod Class at Pebble Beach. The scoring was very close against the ex-Tom McMullen, Walker Morrison, and Berardini Brothers deuce roadsters. The Bakan coupe edged out the ex-Walker Morrison roadster for 1st place. Don Orosco and his team of Brad Hand, Olle Eriksson and Jesse Cruz won the top prize once again. And after half a century, Lloyd Bakan was joyfully reunited with his old car.
Milestone hot rods like this always take on the name of their builder or owner during the car’s most significant period. Acclaimed then and now, distinctive and timeless, with perfect provenance and a Pebble Beach Concours-winning restoration, the Lloyd Bakan coupe represents a rare opportunity to acquire one of the most famous ’32 Fords of all time.