Putting a single person's name to this story from one angle might seem to be a bit of an overstatement, but at the same time not tying it all together with a selected surname would be a bit of an oversight as well.
The name that can be the foundation for this entire tale is Doyle Gammell, but he will tell you himself this story does not begin and end with him alone. When it comes to the historic hot rod this tale revolves around, the car itself has always been a bit of a mystery. The earliest known record begins when a '32 Ford three-window coupe came into Dick Bergren's life in the early Sixties. At that time the car was just another hot-rodded old car whose origins were not important and now have been forever lost to the march of progress. It wasn't long before a young Dick would write his own history with his new possession as he proceeded to personalize his ride.
It would be Dick who would make the important changes that would forever make this one '32 Ford so special and give the coupe its beloved personality. His first major change was the modification of the top. Armed with only a hacksaw and a natural sense of what is "right," Dick unknowingly created the ultimate chopped top which still captivates hot rodders to the point Bobby Walden offers brand new '32 coupe bodies with this exact chop from his shop Walden Speed. A detail most who loved the coupe from its 1963 Rod & Custom feature could not appreciate was the rich metallic Cordova Brown paint Dick had the coupe coated in, but what was totally obvious in those well-known Andy Southard, Jr. photos was the wicked stance, polished magnesium American five-spokes wrapped in racing rubber, and the Moon fuel tank in front of the grille.
Another thing missing from those photos was Dick Bergren himself. It turns out that Dick really wanted to join the L.A. Roadster club and had traded the coupe (along with a matching Triumph show bike) to Doyle Gammell for his stunning Model T roadster only a week or two before the historic pictures were taken. Doyle had become the youngest member to join the club in 1961 with the Model The built during his senior year of high school. But a pregnant wife required "more sensible" transportation for the Gammells-as if a nasty fuel-injected street terror could be called "sensible," at least it kept them out of the elements. An exchange of keys and pink slips was made at a Tridents' indoor car show in Long Beach, California, and the two car owners would not cross paths again for decades when they were again both L.A. Roadster Club members.
As Doyle tells it, "I was working the gate at the Father's Day show when Tom Shiffilea pulled in with his purple flamed '32 three-window. Right away I recognized the car as my old hot rod. I happened to be manning the gate with Dick Bergren when I said to him, "Hey, that's my old car."
Dick responded, "Yeah, mine too!" It was not until that very moment that it all came back to me that I had traded Dick for that car." This is not so hard to believe when you know that before that car and many times since Doyle has been involved with a wide variety of interesting cars, including some test runs in the very first Shelby Cobra after the marathon weekend build session performed by the guys at Dean Moon's shop where he worked alongside his father. He has also piloted a host of dragstrip and land speed machines, so it's easy to have your memory slip on your old college transportation. In fact it was many years after the coupe was published in R&C that he was made aware of the magazine story!