Jess and George Gasper's Model A Hot Rod
A smirking George once said to me, “Sometimes it’s good not to know any better.” It was directly after I shot down an idea for the pile of parts sitting on the garage floor in front of us. And he was right of course. He saw possibilities, when all I saw were rules. While I worried about how our hot rod would fit within the car world I knew and calculated costs on the long list of parts we needed, he didn’t limit his perspective. He knew a plan would develop and evolve as we worked. So that’s how our Model A project began; simply by starting.
We were well ahead of the curve, starting with a very good unchopped, original 1931 Ford coupe body. Having previously been a project for at least two other guys, it came with a treasure trove of parts and body panels. Friend, Ken Chloupek spent countless hours of his time to work alongside us to cut metal panels, spot weld, weld some more, grind, putty, sand and sand some more. He helped George pick out the perfect paint color, Gingerale, a Ford color. It’s vintagy feel was perfect for this project.
Much of the build was guided by those that surrounded us. Friends, family and coworkers, all experts who happily gave advice, direction and time to help make us successful. And many of the parts were dependent upon what was readily available, therefore affordable. Like the old 350 S/B Chevy that graced two prior “MacKichan” builds. Or the freshly rebuilt TH350 automatic transmission that I had busted into pieces while installed in my ‘33 Coupe.
A 9” Ford rear end was an easy choice, with 31 spline and 3.25:1 gears. The not-so-easy choice was the type of brakes to run. In the end, Speedway’s Dave Hanson helped point us to a Speedway disc brake kit for the front and drums for the rear.
Advice from Speedway’s street merchant, Jeff Karls, helped us wade through limitless wheel and tire combos. We chose the genuinely vintage look of the TTO Series American Racing Wheels, 15x5 and 15x8. Making them look all the more vintage by spraying the dull grey centers an even deeper grey for a fresh cast magnesium look. “Bigs and littles” were the only way to go, so we chose Coker blackwall radial tires for the front and a pair of 10” pie crust cheater slicks for the back. An expensive decision, with a three-week wait time, the cheater slicks still make George smile so they were worth it.
Our Classic Instruments All American Series gauges coordinate with the coupe’s body color so well it’s as if they were handed to us directly from the hot rod gods. Our classic banjo Grant steering wheel, with its rich mahogany rim, was also an easy choice. Eventually, we’ll finish out the interior with luscious mahogany-color side panels and carpet.
“The best way to build a Model A is not to stop.” There were late nights wiring the gauge panel, lights and engine bay. Speedway’s Universal 22-Circuit wiring harness, with it’s easy to navigate diagrams, made progress smooth. For a first time builder, that means something.
The coupe even has a Vintage Air Gen II Compact Universal heat and air system, hidden where the original fuel tank was installed. To make it all work, we used a Bill’s Hot Rod 200 Series bracket system to run the belts on the engine. We found a Z-Series Walker radiator on Speedway’s Garage Sale that fit our need and worked great.
The little coupe was ready to drive on our wedding day, and he’s driven it to five states already. But there’s still more than a few things left to do on the little coupe, as all hot rods are a work in progress it seems.