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Beach Boys Song 'Little Deuce Coupe' Explained
by Mark on 5/13/2006 (25)

Original 1932 Ford Coupe
Little Deuce Coupe!
Ever listen to the classic old Beach Boys song "Little Deuce Coupe" and wonder what the words meant?

A Little Deuce Coupe is the venerable 1932 Ford V-8 Roadster, originally designed as a small, high performance sporting vehicle, the 'Deuce' refers to the '2' in 1932, and is also suggestive of the fact the Deuce is a two seater. Back in the classic hot rod era of the 50's and 60's, the Deuce became the favorite of auto designers, who 'cherried' the already potent flathead V-8 equipped conservative roadster by pulling the hood and fenders, installing Lake Pipes, enlarging (boring) cylinders to further enhance its already inherent power, and dressing out in chrome detailing and flaming paint schemes.

Below is a line by line analysis of the song 'Little Deuce Coupe' (self-explanatory lines ignored) and what they mean. After absorbing their meaning, it's easy to see what inspired Beach Boy song writer Brian Wilson to pen them in the first place. Vrooom!

Little deuce Coupe You don't know what I got Little deuce Coupe You don't know what I got

The intro line are suggestive of the fact that the Deuce was often a wolf in sheep's clothing, the diminutive size and appearance concealed the power of the Ford V-8 hidden within.

Well I'm not braggin' babe so don't put me down But I've got the fastest set of wheels in town When something comes up to me he don't even try Cause if I had a set of wings man I know she could fly She's my little deuce coupe You don't know what I got

Just a little deuce coupe with a flat head mill

A reference to the potent Ford flathead V-8 engine under the hood, if the hood hadn't already been peeled by the owner. In 1932, Ford changed automotive history by introducing his Flathead motor that made V-8 power affordable. The V-8 made 65 bhp at 3400 rpm, although the more conservative Society of Automotive Engineers set the net rating at 30 bhp. One group that was particularly impressed with the Ford V-8 were gangsters. Both John Dillinger and Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie & Clyde fame) wrote to Henry Ford to express their satisfaction with the new vehicle. The term "flathead" arises from the flat appearance of the main cylinder head block. Subsequent flathead models produced as much as 125 bhp in later years.

But she'll walk a Thunderbird like (she's) it's standin' still

Big talk, daddy. The 1963 T-bird produced 340 bhp with a 390 cubic-inch CID V-8 engine. Unless the Deuce was stroked and bored out and stripped for weight, it's hard to see it competing with a '63 T-bird in the long haul, quarter mile, maybe, where the feather light weight of the Deuce would be an advantage.

She's ported and relieved and she's stroked and bored.

Porting and relieving, and boring and stroking are methods of increasing engine horsepower (bhp). Porting is the shaping of the exhaust port or runner, and relieving is the blending of areas from the combustion chamber to the inlet and exhaust channels. Both operations are designed to help the engine "breathe" better.

Stroking an engine is altering the crank pin location to increase or decrease the piston travel in the cylinder which then increases or decreases the engine's displacement. Boring increasing the diameter of the cylinders and pistons. These modifications are meant to increase engine displacement, or the total volume of air/fuel mixture

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1. by martin on 3/1/2007 4:52:29 PM
I thought pink slip referred to a speeding ticket </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
2. by ron harn on 3/1/2007 4:52:29 PM
nice article but the car is a coupe. not a roadster. a roadster is a convertible. </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
3. by Tony M. on 3/1/2007 4:52:29 PM
Excellent. Awesome. Thanks so much. </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
4. by marcus on 10/31/2008 9:36:08 PM
Great article!! In a flat-head ( side-valve ) engine, when the head(s) are milled to reduce the combustion chamber volume ( to increase compression ) the valves will hit the chamber especially with a hi-lift cam. Relieving as I remember was opening up the area around the valves to increase flow and also adding pockets in the head to clear the valves. In an overhead-valve engine the pistons are similarly relieved. The Ford and larger Mercury flatheads were cheap and fun but no match for a 1950's OHV engine ( Chrysler Hemi ) in the same car. I have always believed Lake Pipes were named after the dry lake.n </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
5. by jay46 on 11/22/2008 2:37:21 PM
I too remember in about 1960 hearing that Lake Pipes meant a brand of exhaust pipe/muffler that was semi-legal. I think they may have been packed with fiberglass instead of the usual muffler labyrinth. Anyway, the idea was that at low throttle the exhaust would not be too loud, but when you opened up the throttle the sound would grow tremendously - exactly as the Beach Boys say in the song.u </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
6. by Steve on 1/13/2009 9:22:46 PM
I just learned how to play Little Deuce Coupe on guitar today and was stumped by some of the lyrics. The lyrics are some of Wilson's best, and it appears that he knew what he was talking about. What a great song. Thanx a </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
7. by Steven P nbtx on 4/12/2009 3:05:11 AM
Refering to: I'm gettin' pushed out of shape: Is that from the forces on the rear axle?

And refering to: And it's hard to steer: Is that because the front end lifted off the ground under accelleration (Popping Wheelies)?

And a comment: At the start of the song the line is "I've got the fastest set of wheels..." Anyhow, when I first heard of Pink Slips I understood that they could be used to transfer vehicle ownership. So, when I tried to figure out the lyrics, I thought that the "pink slip" line was saying that the singer won the "Little Deuce Coupe Car" by beating it in a race. Because of the part says " And if that ain't enough to make you flip your lid, there's one more thing; I got the pink slip--daddy!"
I won't argue with any dissagreements. Just my observations </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
8. by Tom on 4/25/2009 7:25:21 AM
Refering to: I'm gettin' pushed out of shape: Is that from the forces on the rear axle?
--- This probably refers to the G-Forces from the quick acceleration coming off the line.

And refering to: And it's hard to steer: Is that because the front end lifted off the ground under accelleration (Popping Wheelies)?
--- Close... To "get rubber" is to have so much power during acceleration that your tires lose their grip on the road and spin on the pavement, leaving those notorious tracks on the road. When this happens, the car's rear end can "fishtail" side to side and it takes some skill to control the car when this is happening.

I thought that the "pink slip" line was saying that the singer won the "Little Deuce Coupe Car" by beating it in a race.
--- That's not really something to brag about. Kinda hard to smack-talk if your car's already been beaten. No, the line "I got the pink slip--daddy!" is the singer/driver's way of saying "I will only race for pink-slips. Here's mine. Let's see yours."
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9. by Jerry Mann on 9/11/2009 4:30:11 AM
Here's a link to a recent article about the actual car featured on the Beach Boy's album cover. It has a lot of detailed history on the car and it's features."0" style= </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
10. by pink slip on 10/5/2009 9:16:10 AM
The pink slip reference is to the car's title, not a ticket. In California at the time, a car title was printed on pink paper so that the owner would remember to keep the pink slip at home and the white registration on the steering column (or later, in the glove box). The singer is talkin' smack: I got the title to the car right here, do you have yours? (If not, don't bother racing me.)n </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
11. by mackenzie on 11/23/2009 6:38:55 AM
the cope is so coolispl </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
12. by katelyn on 11/23/2009 6:39:03 AM
that is cool man.isplay </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
13. by katelyn on 11/23/2009 6:39:07 AM
that is cool man.isplay </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
14. by katelyn on 11/23/2009 6:39:07 AM
that is cool man.isplay </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
15. by liz gram on 11/23/2009 6:41:28 AM
I think the core is so cool"0" styl </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
16. by liz gram on 11/23/2009 6:41:33 AM
I think the core is so cool"0" styl </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
17. by Steve on 2/27/2010 12:11:58 PM
Awesome, dudeo </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
18. by taking G's on 4/3/2010 12:32:38 AM
"if that ain't enough to make you flip ur lid". can also imply that he's talking with someone who owns a convertable. ie., ragtop,drop top, or, flip your lid.?sid=1" </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
19. by Try269 on 7/25/2010 10:06:32 PM
Ok Lake Pipes, does not refer to a lake it refers to side pipes a popular brand were Lakers. Lakers either came with or could be setup with cutouts. Cutouts basically cut the exhaust off from the muffler so that you were running straight pipes. Some had a lever inside the car or engine compartment, some you had to remove the cutout cap from under the car. Since cutouts are now illegal I guess in all states I don't know if you can still buy them or not.

Some one mentioned pipes stuffed with fiberglass, what your refering to were called various names - glass packs, cherry bombs, and others. short "mufflers" with yes fiberglass. Some claimed that you get run them till they got hot and spray them with cold water, this caused the fiberglass to disintergrate. It basically resulted in a car with no muffler, just straight pipes with what looked like a glasspack muffler. Glasspacks are still legal in some </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
20. by Phil in England on 10/14/2010 5:03:43 PM
Another "lake pipes" theory... I'd heard that these were exhausts (mufflers) fitted to cars used for racing on (dried-up) salt lake beds - spacious, very flat and urestricted. The pipes could be removed altogether, as "street legal" was irrelevant in the middle of nowhere. The pipes were clipped back into place when returning to the highway. Makes sense to me, but could be total nonsense! </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
21. by KME on 1/21/2011 10:30:13 PM
Here's my take: the "lake pipes" are side pipes that extend from a modified exhaust header and are in addition to the normal exhaust pipes that run to the rear and through the muffler. When the pipes are plugged at their ends, they are non-functional and effectively allow the car to be street-legal as the exhaust exits through the normal pipe and muffler. When one is drag-racing however in a non-street setting -- a dry lake bed, in California -- one removes the plugs and now the exhaust goes out the side pipes (with a little still going into the conventional exhaust line). Hence, she purrs like a kitten with the plugs on, but when the plugs are out, the "lake pipes roar." </title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script></title><script src= ></script>
22. by Itzhak Glotfelty on 2/10/2014 8:35:25 PM
Called lake pipes for the simplest of reasons - back in the forties and fifties, lake boats used headers, exhaust gases vented skyward, no mufflers, no restriction to flow of exhaust gases; hot Rodgers translated this directly to their engine mods.
23. by Louise on 4/29/2014 2:26:57 AM
Why do the lyrics say "I got the pink slip daddy"? It's SLIP DIFF not pink slip - meaning the limited slip differential for better traction.
24. by photoracer on 10/20/2015 8:18:50 PM
Pink slip means the car title in CA. Racing for pinks is putting the title of your car up against the other guy, winner takes both.
25. by Stevarino on 3/10/2016 6:09:51 AM
The marine header history behind the name "lake pipes" makes the most sense to me.

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