“No, that’s not for sale.” We’ve all heard it before, the car sitting in the field every time you drive by and when you talk to the owner they tell you it’s not for sale. That was the story when a buddy called Scott Mills and told him of a Model A sedan and a pickup in a yard a couple of cities away.
“You’re going to want to replace that flathead.” That’s the first words of many people when we talk about my 51 Ford. They tell me how they would be good for tooling around town or this or that but for the amount that I drive I’m going to want to replace it with something more powerful and modern. My counter argument is Roy Fields’ 1949 Ford. Not only has this car been all over the country including taking Fields to Bonneville to run he and his brother’s LSR car. Tales of that drive include extended high speed runs proving the motor’s longevity.
**** Note: From time to time I want to feature pieces by some of my friends here. Last month I featured Gears And Gals Magazine (here), Steve Giangreco from Gears And Gals has been gracious to loan us this article for all of you out there. Enjoy!****
Matt Espy’s Ford
by Steve Giangreco
When I got to the shop, parked outside was this aggressive looking Model A Ford sitting low and mean. I walked around the car just taking it in. Every detail of this car is right. There wasn’t anything I could pick out that I would have done different.
The Model A was made available for sale to the public in December of 1927. It was the model that replaced the Model T. In the cars three year run, the Ford Motor Company produced over 3 million units. This made the Model A popular with hot rodders early on. They were lightweight, inexpensive, and plentiful. Over the decades not much has changed. The Ford Model A is still a favorite among hot rodders. While a Ford Model A hot rod is nothing new, they are not all created equal! Many things set them apart, build quality and aesthetics being the two most important. Some look good but can’t run, some run like hell but look like it too! Not Matt’s car. Matt’s car is right on in both categories.
Matt told me that he bought the car at a swap meet in 2004. “I looked at it in the yard until 2008 until my boss Dan and I decided to start building it”, Matt said. They started by taking the car to Dan’s house and laying the body on the floor. They began to mock up the new frame they were going to build for it. He wanted it to sit as low as possible so airbags were a must. The motor and transmission were laid on the ground and they built the frame into the body. They only channeled it about an inch. Matt is 6’3” and needed all the headroom he could get.
They used a 5″ dropped axle and some wishbones which they split from one of Dan’s old 48 Fords. A rear end out of a 55 Chevy was mounted with air ride technologies triangulated 4 link set up with bags. They made all the floors for the car and tranny tunnel. After that, the top was chopped 6 inches. It rolls on red steel wheels with wide white wall tires and cheater slicks in the rear. There are disc brakes up front for stopping power. The interior sports custom pin-striping , Moon gauges, and a Lokar shifter.
For the grille he wanted something that was a little different. He found one from a ’35 Ford on eBay that he liked. As soon as he got it, he cut about 8 inches off of the bottom and fabricated a new one out of round bar. He also made the hood and ornament from scratch.
He frenched in 1959 Cadillac taillights in the rear and painted the car a Mercedes flat gray with silver scallops. Eric Campbell added the finishing touches by doing all the pin-striping.
All of this together makes for one bad ride. This is one Model A that does NOT get lost in the crowd.
**** If you want to see this blog in your email inbox every morning when it goes live, go up to the top right hand corner of the page and enter your email address in the subscribe box. 1 lucky subscriber each month will get selected to win a prize. December was a copy of the Atomic Hot Rods DVD “This Is Long Beach” Subscribe to enter to win!****
Those of you that know me know that I’ve recently purchased a 51 Ford, affectionately known as a shoebox. I’ve loved this body style for quite awhile and I’m excited to get started working on mine later this year (after finishing some upgrades to the 63 Galaxie).
So as I was looking through my site I realized that I have a ton of shoebox photos! I started gathering them up and so far from the first gallery up through the 2012 Lonestar Roundup gallery there are over 414 photos of shoeboxes of various forms and levels of kustomizing. You can see the whole gallery here if you’d like to look around.
I am no expert but here is some info that I’ve been able to pick up along the way. (for more detailed info you can go to the Wiki page here)
So what years of the Ford are considered shoeboxes?
1949-1951 due to their “slab side” design, gone are the bulging fenders and they are replaced with a relatively straight body shell.
How do you tell the years apart?
Here is an example of a 49, note the single “bullet” grille, triangular turn signals at the end of the grille bar and the FORD letters on the hood.
The 50 carries on the single bullet design but moves to a rectangular turn signals in the trim pieces that wrap around the front bumper and badge at the front of the hood.
By 1951 they moved to the easily identifiable double bullet grille design and round turn signals.
From the factory these cars came with flathead 6’s or 8’s. My 51 came with a 239 cu. in flathead V8 “8BA” motor and a 3speed with Overdrive transmission. I have heard that there were automatics available in 51 with the Ford-o-matic transmission. Atomic Hot Rods just released a cool documentary on the Flathead last year called A Sweet Sickness: The Flathead Movie Go to the site to order a copy for yourself, click here to see the trailer.
These cars all have coil springs in the front and leaf spring setups in the back. The most common way to get them down a ways is to use Moog CC850 Variable Rate Coil Spring in the front and simple Lowering Blocks in the back. For a ton of info on that see this thread on the H.A.M.B.
Some kool kustoms that have inspired me
My buddy Jack’s 50.
With kustom work by Premier Body & Paint’s Jeff Myers in Arkansas City, KS Michael Shea’s shoebox is way kool.
Here’s a clone of Junior Conway’s 50. For more info on the original go to this link at kustomrama.
See you at a show,
9/14/13 Update: I had my buddy Chris over at Shoebox Central look through here for any errors, thanks for taking the time Chris! If anyone needs parts for their Shoebox Ford or even some Merc stuff of the era, head over to Shoebox Central.