Continental Battery Systems is unveiling a fully restored and branded 1932 Ford sedan delivery at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) in honor of the company’s 90th anniversary.
The car, affectionately known as “the Deuce,” represents Continental Battery Systems in a few ways. For starters, the Deuce rolled off the line the same year Ralph McCann opened Continental Battery Manufacturing Co. in downtown Dallas. And while we don’t know if McCann carted around batteries in a ‘32 Ford delivery, he certainly could have. The truck was designed to work.
“You could picture this being used [in 1932],” says Continental President and CEO Eric Royse.
Finding the Deuce
It started with a trip to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas in 2021. Bernie Gessner, Continental Battery Systems director of customer experience and marketing, was checking out the high-end customizations on some Ford Broncos and snapped some photos.
“There was one particular one that was red and black,” says Gessner. “I Photoshopped some Continental Battery Systems logos on it and sent it to Eric Royse … and said, ‘We need to have a car.’ Within minutes, Eric was in my office.”
As it turned out, Royse, who joined Continental as president and CEO in 2018, had already been thinking along those same lines. He’d seen other companies and Continental customers restore cars that matched up with their founding year.
“We knew that 90 years was coming up … [and] restored cars are part of the industry,” Royse says. “That had been kicking around in my head for a couple of years.”
The team bounced around the idea of doing a ground-up restoration but eventually decided the timeline didn’t add up. They wanted to debut their new vehicle at AAPEX in November 2022 in celebration of CBS’ 90th anniversary.
The next several months were a whirlwind — or more like a chain reaction.
Royse reached out to some contacts in the marketing world who put him in touch with Boston Cup founder (and all-around car guy), Rich Doucette. Rich contacted classic car restorer and host of Chasing Classic Cars, Wayne Carini. Before Royse knew it, he was on a flight to Scottsdale where Carini was participating in a panel at Barret-Jackson (the Sothebys of classic cars).
“I got 15 minutes with Wayne, [so] I give him the pitch,” says Royse. “He says, ‘That sounds great. Let’s get this thing going.’”
Carini texted two days later.
“He remembered this car and he knew [the owner]. He asked me if I would be interested in this ‘32 town delivery vehicle.”
“The next thing I know, we [had] bought the car,” says Gessner.
The first time Royse and Gessner saw the car in person was up in Connecticut at Wayne Carini’s shop. Originally, they thought they may do some modifications — like changing the wheels or adding a pinstripe — but once they saw the Deuce, Royse knew he didn’t want to touch it.
“This car is done and perfect,” he recalls thinking. “I don't think we change anything but put our logo on it.”
Restoring an Icon
If you’re a classic car enthusiast, chances are you know about the 1932 Ford sedan delivery — it’s somewhat of a legend. Only about 400 deliveries were built, converted from 1932 sedans as delivery vehicles. (Though some lore says the number is closer to 40). At any rate, they are super rare.
One thing that makes the delivery special is that it’s what car restorer Dave Lane calls a “one-year-only car,” meaning Ford made it for a single year and didn’t use any of the parts or assembly again. “There’s nothing on a ‘32 Ford that would go on a ‘33 Ford,” he says.
Lane, who (pre-retirement) owned and operated Fast Lane Rod Shop in Iowa, got his hands on the Deuce when the car’s owner brought it to him to restore back in 2005. Over the next two and a half years, Lane spent about 6,000 hours building the delivery from the ground up and giving it a second life.
In 2009, the delivery was featured in The Rodder’s Journal magazine, where it was called “the best ‘32 built in the last 25 years.”
The article broke down in words and pictures everything Lane had done to restore the truck to its original glory — and, in some cases, he made improvements. The original Ford sedan delivery would have been made to work. It was a delivery vehicle and Lane (along with the car’s owner, George Poteet) wanted to be true to that aesthetic.
“Back in the day, back in ‘32 … it was more of a utility vehicle,” Lane says. “George and I decided we're going to build the most basic, stark '32, but we're going to spend a fortune to make it look cheap.”
Lane laughs at this idea because the car doesn’t look cheap — it’s stunning. The paint is perfect, the finishings are flawless and the construction is top-of-the-line. It does, however, have the stark feel of a service vehicle.
Save for upholstered seats and the custom woodwork in the truck bed, the interior is entirely metal. The idea was to be true to the spirit of the ‘32 delivery — even when making customizations.
Lane made a few aesthetic choices that weren’t necessarily true to the ‘32 but did live up to the spirit of the build. The most notable (yet, still very subtle) is the fact that he shortened the delivery’s doors by about one and a half inches.
“A ‘32 sedan delivery is just a ‘32 sedan that they filled the windows in on the side and they put a door in the back,” says Lane. “What they did, later on, is they shortened the door [to] make the back half a lot longer because it was a utility vehicle. We thought, ‘Well, that's what they should have done back then.’”
Lane built or customized nearly everything else on the delivery, a process he lays out in photographic detail on his website.
Once the Deuce left Lane’s shop, it debuted at the 2008 Grand National Roadster Show in California, where it racked up a number of awards. Poteet eventually sold the delivery to a private owner.
A New Chapter for the Delivery
The Continental team was looking for a car that spoke to the legacy and spirit of Continental Battery Systems — a company that got its start supplying batteries to Henry Ford himself. The 1932 Ford sedan delivery was the perfect fit.
What does the car mean to the company?
“It’s just really, really cool,” Royse says. “I hoped it would be an embodiment of 90 years of work and longevity. It is really linked to the history of the company. We wanted to use it to celebrate all the things we’ve been, what we’ve built and now where we’re going in the future.”
When it’s not making the rounds at events like AAPEX, Continental Battery System’s ‘32 Ford delivery is on display at The Shop Club in Dallas.