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Model A Coupe Hot Rod

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Tags: Tech, Street, Street

There’s something about a Model A coupe. Elegant, simple body style, and the visor, oooo, the visor. Such beauty.

For years, I’ve talked about someday building a Model A. My only stipulations were that the body be in decent shape and that it have a title. Turns out, my fiancé thought a hot rod project was a good idea and we pulled the trigger on a coupe body that a friend from Omaha, NE had for sale.

It was a project for its previous owner, so it came with a TON of parts. The wood kit for the roof had already been installed, the doors had been redone and were in primer, and the dash had been altered. It came with the sheet metal needed to complete the body work, plus door and window trim pieces. There was also a box of new parts like door handles, pins, hinges, lacing… the little things that add up to a big expense. And more importantly, it had a title.

There are so many decisions as we start planning what this car should look like, sound like, and what it all might cost.

  • Stock or hot rod? Hot rod!
  • High boy or channeled frame? Hmmm.
  • Dropped Axle? Yes?

Engine, transmission, stance, wheels, tires… and I’m not sure we can even dream about the paint color, let alone what kind of interior it might have someday. Keyword someday.

So, dream along with me folks. Some day is coming soon.

Here it is. We set it on a rough stock Model A frame for now to begin to assess what needs to be done over the next year(s).

So now the questions to ask, plus the thoughts behind the current answers: In my mind, one decision will begin to inform the rest.

Stock height or chopped? I don’t like the idea of chopping a nice original Ford steel body. Plus, I find beauty in un-chopped coupes. I don’t have much interest in restoring a Model A, but also no interest in modifying the body a ton. So we’re leaning toward only necessary body work.

Fenders or highboy? I LOVE fender-less highboys. No need for fenders. Just a super cool wheel and tire combo.

Rear end options. Want a super-fast, high performance engine? Then you’d better have a solid rear end to withstand it. I have experience with 9” Ford rear ends. Seems like a good place to start.

What kind of engine? If we go the crate route, do we want a turn-key option or go the build-it-yourself route? What pieces included in a pre-built crate will we use? I’d likely lose the valve covers, the carb, the air cover… what’s the value of a new crate compared to fixing up the 350 S/B Chevy sitting in the barn? BUT what’s wrong with the engine that’s sitting in the barn?

What else do we have laying around the shop? Dropped front axle, nice-ish hood sides, and we have access to a rough Model A frame and an unpainted pinched ’32 frame that’s been boxed. Both options will give us a drastically different stance. And there’s a swap meet coming up… let’s look for a grille and anything else we can scrounge up.

Basic but cool: I reached out to an artist friend, Jeff Allison, to create a baseline of how the little coupe could look. After listening to my ideas, here was his take:

“Something pretty basic, but cool. Not full blown traditional, instead something more non-show car from the early ‘60s. Comparable to the American Graffiti coupe. Bigs and littles, black wall Firestones with the letters painted on the sidewalls. Chrome OEM wheels. No caps, no rings, just hot rod.

Nicely detailed S/B Chevy because it’s great and easy, with dual 4’s to make it more ‘60s. Split wish bones with the axle pushed forward just enough to be in front of the grille to give it a cool rake stance. Model “A” grille, because it’s different than the ’32 grille shells everyone uses.

Paint the frame black along with most of the suspension parts, with maybe a few chrome tidbits here and there. Plated axles and bones. Buick brake drums. The interior would be almost black, simple 60’s style tuck ‘n roll with cream piping. When it’s done, it should look like it was built in 1963 and put into storage until today.”

I couldn’t agree more. Let’s start in this direction and see what happens.

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