ASRF LEGEND – KEN BROWNLEE

Ken has always had a passion for modified vehicles. At the young age of 20, he and his brother Jim began building custom motorcycles. Eventually Jim ventured into his own motorcycle shop, while Ken starting Deuce Customs in 1979 in a small garage behind his Mother`s house.

As Ken was a skilled sheet metal worker, panel beating came naturally to him, capable of anything from basic body work and top chops, to wheel tubs and even ‘cut and shut’ on badly damaged vehicles. If Ken was unable to find a part he needed for his own project, he borrowed one and made a fibreglass mould of it. This gave him an idea, and suddenly he was in the fibreglass hot rod business.

The business soon outgrew mum`s shed, so Ken took up residence at Rod City Repos, then into a small factory unit at Ferntree Gully. After a few years he was on the move again, purchasing a larger factory nearby. Ken`s son Chris joined the business, performing all the steel fabrication for Deuce Custom produced with its growing product line of hot rod bodies.

Ken exported several bodies to John Cowling, an Aussie living in California, where they were noticed by Geoff Taylor (GMT) and Boyd Coddington. GMT went on to distribute many Deuce Customs bodies into the US market, while Boyd came to Australia to meet Ken and discuss a deal, with Ken progressing onto building Boydster bodies and chassis for Coddington, with over 40 units being delivered. Larry O’Toole was instrumental in the deal with Boyd.

Deuce Custom bodies gained a reputation for quality and were sold and used by Rods by Reid in New Zealand, So-Cal Speed Shop USA, GMT USA, Boyd Coddington and others, and formed the basis of many top cars in Australia. Their bodies were used for the Goodguys USA Nationals giveaway cars, two years in a row.

Behind every man there`s a good woman, and Ken`s wife Gill has been there, supporting him all the way, putting up with the long hours and wonderful smell of fibreglass!

Ken sold Deuce Customs in 2014, and stayed on until 2018 as a worker. It has since been sold again and is in capable hands of Daryl Williams and John Wood, with a list of competent well known employees from the hot rod industry, all under the same roof as Detroit Chassis.

Ken produced a world class product at an affordable price for nearly 40 years. Ken is now retired and living in Victor Harbour, South Australia and is building a ‘32 5 window coupe, using a Deuce Customs body of course.

The Hot Rodding community of Australia recognises Ken`s significant contribution and thank him for all he has done for our hobby. A well earnt ASRF Legend!

BY ROBERT RIGGS. PHOTOS SCOTT JOHNCOCK