Cool Collections! Dale’s Deuce Garage
For some enthusiasts, the concept of a hot rod begins and ends with one vehicle: the ’32 Ford. Count Dale Grau among the adherents to this finely focused hot-rodding principle.
A five-window Deuce coupe was Dale’s first vehicle, purchased in Nebraska in 1961 when Dale was 16. It had a four-cylinder for power and Dale had it on the road within a year, complete with the best hop-up parts he could find for the four-banger. “Didn’t make a whole lot of difference, but it looked cool,” Dale jokes of the engine mods. Fresh blue metalflake paint was also part of the equation.
Dale has kept that coupe ever since. It followed him around through the decades as he and his wife, Elvis, raised a family and moved to different cities for work. “I drug the five-window all over the country with me,” Dale says, “usually in the moving van with all the couches and chairs.” The coupe has had a succession of repaints and rebuilds through the years, the most recent in 1992. It’s still powered by the 260c.i. Ford V8 Dale installed in 1964.
When Dale retired in 2000, he and Elvis relocated to Minnesota – a move that gave Dale both the time and space to pursue and expand on his hot rod passion. And boy, has he done that! With a collection that now includes 15 ’32 Fords and a handful of other vintage rides, he now presides over what is affectionately called Dale’s Deuce Garage.
The expansion began with the purchase of a red ’32 Vicky in 2001. “And then after that, all hell broke loose,” Dale says with a laugh.
“I built the blue roadster, thinking I wanted to drive to California once in my lifetime,” Dale continues. With just 300 miles on the freshly built roadster, Dale drove to Pennsylvania to meet up with a friend. The pair then headed for California and the annual L.A. Roadsters Father’s Day show. They took in more Western U.S. sights before returning. “By the time I got home, I had 10,000 miles on the odometer,” Dale says. “And I said, that was so much fun, I’ll do it again!”
And he has. Driving to California in June has become an annual tradition for Dale, and he regularly brings along a group of like-minded friends. He and Elvis also make it to the Goodguys Heartland Nationals in Des Moines every year, following that up with the Cruise to Columbus.
Dale Grau typically builds a new car each year – one benefit of Minnesota’s long winters. “I’ve got a nice furnace,” Dale says. “You’ve got a long wintertime to build something. All I have to do is shovel a pathway to the shop and I’m good.”
That shop is a 32×48-foot space on Dale’s property. He also has a nine-car garage attached to the house and a 48×60-foot building that serves as the Deuce Garage. “I say no tools allowed in the Deuce garage,” Dale says. “That’s my showplace.”
The collection includes almost every body style Ford produced in 1932, “The only thing I’m missing is a cabriolet or a sport coupe, and neither one of those really excite me,” Dale says. Of course, he has doubles of a few body styles now. A Tudor will be the project this winter – Dale located a good body in Wisconsin and just ordered a new chassis from Cornhusker Rod & Custom. He has a pretty good idea of how it will turn out. “I always have the car built in my brain before I start,” he says.
We asked Dale if there are any cars other than ’32 Fords that he anticipates adding to the collection in the future. His answer was quick and simple “No. Why? A ’32 is the ultimate.”
Spoken like a true disciple of the Deuce gospel.
Photos by John Jackson