Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Dearborn Deuce

Walk into the back room of Oakley Ind. (Clinton Twp., MI), past the die work being done for major OEM programs, and you'll see something unusual: new Kirksite dies developed from CAD data supplied by ASC (Southgate, MI) for a 1932 Ford convertible. But not just any '32 Ford drop top. This one has been redesigned and reengineered to accept a disappearing cloth top, curved side glass, power windows, larger doors, and more interior space within the footprint of the original. Unlike that car, the "Dearborn Deuce™," as the new '32 is called, started with a white-light scan of an original car, and moved to the CAD screen for modification. There the body was made symmetric–something the original definitely wasn't–the "tulip" panel between the decklid and interior was shortened and made functional so it could be used as a cover over the folding convertible top, the doors were lengthened to ease ingress and egress, the lines were subtly reshaped and sharpened, structural braces designed to radically reduce cowl shake were added, the A-pillar was changed to accept roll-up windows and modern weather seals, and the H-point lowered.

The Dearborn Deuce™ started as a hand-built make-work project for ASC’s crafts team, but morphed into a math-based, stamped and welded, low-volume production program.
"The Dearborn Deuce was born, engineered, and developed by ASC," says Jim Inglese, one of the principals of Hot Rods & Horsepower (HR&H), a Branford, CT, maker of all-steel 1932 Ford hot rods. ASC oversees all of the tooling and stamping, acquisition of outside vendors, and the build of the convertible body. This is vastly different than the process followed in the design and development of HR&H's '32 Coupe, wherein Inglese and company oversaw each step in the process. "When we got into this with the 3-window Coupe," he says, "we were stupid. Would I do it that way again? Never in a million years."

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