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WHO would have guessed that the quintessential California hot rod, the “stroked-and-bored” Ford with a “competition clutch and four on the floor” canonized by a fast-rising surf band early in the 1960s, was actually the realized dream of a Detroit teenager?

As is the case with so many other icons of popular culture, the legend and the facts surrounding this two-door 1932 Ford are an imperfect match.

This much is certain: The car that became an emblem of Southern California’s surf-and-speed culture as the model for the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe” album cover is comfortably retired in Michigan, restored to period-correct glory and repatriated with the family of its builder.

Seeing the car firsthand is a reminder that record promoters have sometimes been known to take liberties. While the catchy Beach Boys lyrics praised a Ford flathead V-8, the album’s cover car was actually powered by an overhead-valve Oldsmobile engine, and its transmission was a three-speed, not the four on the floor of the hit single.
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