My Car Quest

April 14, 2024

The Hot Rod That Started It All – The Doane Spencer Roadster

by Mike Gulett –

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the Doane Spencer Roadster has been flattered more than most because it has been copied more that most.

If you think “I have seen this hot rod before” likely you have seen copies of this original “high boy” hot rod. And there is nothing more interesting and desirable than an original.

In his book ’32 Ford Deuce: The Official 75th Anniversary Edition, Tony Thacker says this about The Doane Spencer Roadster,

The words hot rod conjure as many different visions as there are hot rod visionaries, but one hot rod stands tall above all others as the quintessential example of this uniquely American automotive art form – the hot rod from which all others are derived … the DNA.

Doane Spencer Roadster

Doane Spencer and his friend Jack Cort started on this hot rod in 1937. This 1932 Ford was nearly new then but they still tore it apart so they could create their vision of what a car should be.

Preparing for the Carrera Panamericana

Special features include the first DuVall windshield ever on a Deuce, a center armrest that contained the radio controls, and Lincoln brakes modified by Spencer to include cooling scoops.

Since the car was to be campaigned in the grueling Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico, an extra cross-member was added to the chassis for rigidity and exhaust pipes were channeled through the side frame rails to improve ground clearance.

Doane Spencer Roadster

Upon acquiring the roadster, second owner Lynn Wineland continued to modify it in the Doane Spencer style before passing it on to Neal East who later sold it to Bruce Meyer.

Bruce Meyer then sent this special hot rod to the famous So-Cal Speed Shop for a full restoration to Doane Spencer’s vision.

The Doane Spencer Roadster has lived at the Petersen Automotive Museum since it was completed in 1996 and where these photos were taken in 2011.

Doane Spencer Roadster

Matt Stone Photobombs The Doane Spencer Roadster

Doane Spencer Roadster

Tony Thacker goes on to say,

By installing Lincoln drum brakes and 16-inch wheels, and raising the engine, exhausts, and gas tank to increase ground clearance, Doane unwittingly spawned the classic “highboy” look that rodders continue to emulate more than 40 years on.

These modifications described above were made to compete in the Carrera Panamericana. Normally one would not raise a car in order to go faster. But when the race is the Carrera Panamericana off road race then it all makes sense.

Once again racing advances the art of the car.

One more thing

Oh, there is one more thing – Ken Gross and Bruce Meyer had been lobbying the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance organizers for years to allow a hot rod class. This did happen in 1997 and the Doane Spencer Roadster was the winner of that class in 1997 the first time ever at Pebble Beach.

How fitting for the hot rod that started it all.

The Doane Spencer Roadster was featured at the 2022 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in the Hot Rod class.

Doane Spencer Roadster

Photo by the Petersen Automotive Museum

A version of this article was posted here in February 2013.

The Hot Rod That Started It All - The Doane Spencer Roadster
Article Name
The Hot Rod That Started It All - The Doane Spencer Roadster
The Doane Spencer Roadster - the hot rod that stands above all others.


  1. Not to detract from the ‘first’ but rather to honor it here are some photos of another deuce including a shot of the dash plaque to give an idea of the speed these machines reach. I took these at a cars and coffee in Tustin California where this car still probably shows up on Sunday mornings.

  2. Anthony Olissoff says

    Woooooo yeah. Cutting 134mph in anything open is fast. In a highboy, in 1949, that is blistering fast. Brave and bold, I do hope that they also made ‘old’.

  3. Photo 1 of the Hot Rod I saw.

  4. Photo 2 of the Hot Rod I saw.

  5. Photo 3 of the Hot Rod I saw.

  6. Bruce Meyer says

    Michael…thanks for sharing the history of this stunning Deuce. I think it is the most beautiful and beautifully built ’32 of all time. I love your diverse taste in cars. Keep up the good work with your website. Always entertaining. NEVER LIFT…

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