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Model T Roadster Hot Rod

4/27/2020
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You’ve seen a lot of Model T hot rods. Ford made 15 million of them, and we’ve been cutting them up ever since. Then companies like Speedway Motors started making fiberglass bodies and T bucket kits, rivaling the production numbers achieved by old Henry himself. So when a T based hot rod stands out from the pack, it really must be something special.

Not only is Doug Siemen’s little T roadster a knockout, it has a couple great stories to tell. First, Henry didn’t make this body. Neither did Speedy Bill. Doug made this body, from scratch. Using an old fiberglass body as a pattern, Doug stitched the whole thing together out of flat sheet metal. And while a feat like that is impressive when accomplished by a guy with a shop full of metal shaping equipment, Doug did it with little more than some hammers, a stump, and a cheap bead roller and English wheel. It’s more or less a clone of that fiberglass body, but Doug added a few unique touches. The opening doors, for one, as well as the sneaky curve on the cowl to match the windshield. And those hearts formed into the decklid and dash? More on those in a minute. Doug’s eye for proportion combined with the deuce shell, full hood, and turtle deck make the whole package about a clean as you can get with a 110 year old design.

Doug built the chassis as well, starting with a pair of reproduction ’32 rails and taking 22 inches out of them, then adding a kick to the rear. Speedway transverse springs front and rear mount the dropped I-beam and 9”. Lincoln style brakes put the whoa on the front and look just right on this traditional car. A Vega box handles the steering, and it rolls on Excelsior clad steelies.

The interior is hot rod simple, with nothing there that doesn't need to be. If you're looking for lumbar support and air conditioning, you've come to the wrong place. The centerpiece is that '35 Ford dash, modified to house a '50 Ford gauge cluster. The column shifter frees up a little floor space, and the repro 4 spoke wheel is a perfect fit for the track roadster theme.

Power comes from a .040” over 283 rebuilt by one of Doug’s buddies. It’s full of forged pistons, topped with a Holley carb, and lit by a Pertronix distributor. Nothing exotic, but that’s the point. This car was built to drive. A 700R4 puts the power down and keeps the revs to a minimum on the road trips that Doug was already planning.

And what inspired Doug to take on such a Herculean task? Well that’s the other great part of this story. Doug didn’t build this for himself, or even for a paying customer. Instead, it was built as a raffle car to benefit the Helping Hannah’s Heart Foundation, a charity to help children suffering from congenital heart defects. (Remember the hearts hammered into the metal? Now you know.) After the 9 and a half month build (!) was complete, Doug toured the car around to traditional hot rod shows all over the place, racking up 5500 miles in the process. Many hot rods don’t see that many miles in a decade.

In the end, the raffle winner was announced at Vintage Torque Fest in Dubuque, Iowa. The winner was a muscle car guy and told Doug he was probably just going to sell it. After checking in months later, Doug reports the owner not only still has it, but is in love with it and drives it all over. That’s a great testament to Doug’s workmanship and eye for making things cool. It’s also hard not to love a simple, well built hot rod roadster.

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