First Drive: Tim Matthews Model A Hot Rod
This video shows the very first trip I took in the 1929 Model A roadster I have been building for the past 5 years. It has been a long road to this point but it made it all the more sweet! I started gathering parts for this car about the same time I began working at Speedway motors – over 13 years ago! I have always wanted to build a traditional hot rod the way it would have been done in the 1950’s. Sure building a car like this wouldn’t have to take as long as it has taken me. I tend to do things the slow and methodical way, plus having two young kids with a plethora of activities and a demanding job slows me down a bit! The important thing for me has been to work on my car every single day even if it is for 10 minute intervals – just to keep moving forward!
I am a lover of history and have so much admiration for the people coming back from World War II that ushered in the golden age of hot rodding. I set out to build a car like they would have not caring about fancy paint or sophisticated electronics. Because I am always on a small budget I gathered pieces as I could afford them and this thing really sprang from a pile of parts. As a matter of fact the cowl sat in the Speedway call center for many years and was used for test fitting new stainless windshield posts. I took the 241 Red Ram Hemi out of a 1954 Dodge Coronet. It was tired, greasy and all of the frost plugs were blasted out, but it was a hemi! I thought it was beautiful and the perfect size so completely rebuilt the engine myself, coupled it to a T5 and used an old Ford Banjo from a ’41 ford in back. I put the body together piece by piece, a quilt work of Henry Ford iron acquired from numerous swap meets. The parts all have meaning to me. The ’32 grille shell and ’36 headlights were given to me by my dear friend Eric, the grille insert belonged to my grandfather. The rear wheels came off of the 48 Ford F1 truck that my wife’s grandpa purchased brand new, the shift lever came from my friend (and Speedway’s own) Joe McCollough, and the rear end belonged to a Speedway Tech working remotely in Indiana. I remember bringing it back in a minivan rental when visiting him one summer. The list goes on and on, but I remember all of the stories and why each part is important to me. A quilt work of parts and a quilt work of stories. Robert Williams explained this is why hot rods have a soul; they “have ghosts rising off of them”. I couldn’t agree more.
The day this video was shot was the first time the car moved under its own power. My parents were visiting Nebraska from South Dakota and despite the car not quite being ready I decided to drop a battery in the passenger seat and rigged up a fuel tank from my run stand to see if I could prove to them it would start and move. Despite being a little timid my daughter Kelsey decided she needed go with me on the maiden voyage. We travelled out of my driveway, down the cul-de-sac and back with my wife Angie and my Mom watching as my Dad filmed the occasion. I was amazed how well everything on the car worked and it coasted down the residential street as straight as an arrow! Now after having driven it I have the fever big time! I have been working on it every night after my kids go to bed. I refine it more with each day to have it ready to drive in the Spring. This week I turn my attention to floor boards and trunk hinges! It is great therapy in a world that seems a little crazy right now.
Long live home-built hot rods!
Check out more of Tim's build here.