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Woody MegaDork
3/14/13 9:45 p.m.

I've mentioned before that my friend Dave and I have been talking about building a car for the Race of Gentlemen.

We had been kicking around some ideas and one day he said that he wanted to rebuild a flathead. I found a suitable candidate nearby, he picked it up, we stripped it down and now it's at the machine shop with a big box of new parts waiting to be installed when we get it back. But, we don't have a car in which to put it when it's done...

We've considered just about every pre-'35 option out there, but time, price and parts availability pushed us toward Model A Fords. Dave started to restore one when he was a teenager but then decided that he'd like to see the sights in Viet Nam instead. His parents (Packard restorers) sold the car while he was gone and that was the end of his interest in A's until this point.

Dave doesn't really care what body style we use, though we've agreed that a closed cab pickup would be a pretty tight squeeze. I refuse to build a Fordoor. Roadsters are really expensive, five window coupes aren't far behind and Vickys are way too rare. Sport and Business Coupes were ruled out, due to their dorky non-folding canvas tops and fully framed door windows. I really like Tudor sedans, but just haven't found one yet.

Yesterday, I drove up to Massachusetts and bought this:

 photo RoadsterCowl016_zps33b610af.jpg

It's a '28 or '29 Roadster Cowl, and the important (unobtanium) parts are in really good condition. They used the same cowl assembly for the Roadster, Roadster Pickup and Phaeton and I have no way of knowing which this was originally, so I'm free to use my imagination. I have decided that it's going to become a HiBoy Roadster Pickup with a slightly extended cab and shortened bed.

Something along the lines of this:

We've got a long way to go, but we want to have it done by October.

Oh...and please do not use the term Rat Rod or you will be asked to leave my thread.

Woody MegaDork
3/14/13 10:01 p.m.

The cowl assembly is made up of six pieces.

The firewall (note the hole punched in it for a "heater"):

 photo RoadsterCowl018_zps9a63c4a5.jpg

The fuel tank:

 photo RoadsterCowl022_zps4bb9696b.jpg

This is actually four pieces, the two uprights, the front cross piece and the dash:

 photo RoadsterCowl020_zpsd0e1c81d.jpg

Everything fits together nicely.

 photo RoadsterCowl001_zps39c56500.jpg

 photo RoadsterCowl014_zps13cc452b.jpg

That little brass piece in the middle is the fuel gauge. There's a sight glass through which you can view a little ball that floats in gasoline and tells you how much you have in the tank that hovers above your knees and in front of your face. The design pretty much ensures that if you survive the initial impact (not likely), you will most certainly die in a fire shortly thereafter.

Ahhh...the good ol' days...

Woody MegaDork
3/14/13 10:03 p.m.

Tomorrow, we go frame shopping...

mazdeuce Dork
3/14/13 10:05 p.m.

I like this already. That's a surprisingly solid looking piece of metal.

Woody MegaDork
3/14/13 10:07 p.m.

It is a really solid assembly and Roadster cowls are pretty hard to come by. I got lucky.

Woody MegaDork
3/15/13 7:10 a.m.

More inspiration:

This is Larry Shinoda's Roadster Pickup. He later became a designer for GM and Ford and played a big role in designing two cars that you may have heard of: the 1963 Corvette and the (real) Boss 302.

RossD UberDork
3/15/13 7:57 a.m.

Will you put any kind of gauges it that dash? What did they have originally; I don't see any holes? When I was gathering parts for a Locost (that never happened), I got a CJ-5 gauge cluster since I thought it looked kind of vintage. I might still have it...

Woody MegaDork
3/15/13 8:10 a.m.

This is similar to what was there originally. That yellow line you see bisecting the fuel gauge is actually gasoline.

We'll probably just use gauges for water temperature and oil pressure, along with a vintage Stewart Warner tach on the column.

RossD UberDork
3/15/13 8:38 a.m.

That's pretty.

Winston HalfDork
3/15/13 8:47 a.m.

Loving this thread already. The Race of Gentlemen looks so cool... too bad it's in NJ Really nice-looking cowl you scored, BTW. I had no idea that the top of those was the gas tank!

SilverFleet Dork
3/15/13 8:52 a.m.

I'll be following this one closely. Very cool.

cdowd Reader
3/15/13 9:00 a.m.

This is a project that I look forward to seeing more of.


ebonyandivory Reader
3/15/13 10:53 a.m.

I want to do something like this with my son when he gets a little older and able to appreciate it.

BTW, I completely agree with your admonition to NOT use the term R@# R0&. I had to do a Google seach to find a type of truck I was looking for and had to use that term to find it. I hated every letter I typed!

Woody MegaDork
3/15/13 1:51 p.m.

For comparison, here's a '28-'29 Sedan / Coupe cowl that I just found on Philadelphia Craigslist for $150.


It's pretty obvious why all the cool kids are building their hotrods out of Roadster cowls...

 photo SedanCowl4_zps655ef70a.jpg

 photo SedanCowl1_zps2a2db558.jpg

 photo SedanCowl2_zpsbb6a78a6.jpg

 photo SedanCowl3_zps3849c6cf.jpg

Woody MegaDork
3/15/13 2:20 p.m.

Here's a handy Model A Identification Guide, for those of you playing along at home:


(Note: The '30-'31 Closed Cab Pickup illustration is wrong.)

Woody MegaDork
3/16/13 2:34 p.m.

We went frame shopping this morning. I played a hunch that kind of paid off, but ultimately, we weren't successful.

I'm convinced that most people, who aren't necessarily car-guys, think that any really old car is a Model T, so I often search for Model T ads.

I called a guy who placed an ad that was titled "1920s Ford Model T & Doodlebug". Doodlebugs were depression era, home-built tractors, and they were most often built out of shortened Model A's, so I figured that there may be something that we could use here. When I spoke to him on the phone, he initially apologized for the misleading ad and said that a guy came looking for Model T stuff and said that it was mostly Model A stuff. Perfect. He also mentioned that he had two Doodlebugs, one truck cab and about half a dozen frames.

I could not wait to see this stuff. Dave and I filled our pockets with money and drove up there, hoping to buy everything he had.

Unfortunately, we found a combination of heavy truck stuff, Doodlebugs that didn't have anything that we could really use and a truck cab that was beyond repair. The seller was a nice guy, and I explained to him what he had so he might be more successful in finding a buyer who needs his stuff.

Model B heavy truck cab:

 photo RoadsterCowl013_zps9035b8b0.jpg

Every part of this thing was bad:

 photo RoadsterCowl024_zps3ac8cf72.jpg

'30-'31 Doodlebugs:

 photo RoadsterCowl025_zpsce7c1e10.jpg

 photo RoadsterCowl008_zpsf7610347.jpg

 photo RoadsterCowl002_zpsc0834873.jpg

 photo RoadsterCowl006_zps5bdc4f95.jpg

 photo RoadsterCowl005_zps5acaac26.jpg

This was an amazingly solid frame, probably another Model B truck chassis. It was better than most ten year old Jeep frames, but was just too big and heavy for our needs.

 photo RoadsterCowl001_zpseded1227.jpg

There was also another large truck frame with nice fenders at a different location, either a Model AA or Model B truck, but I didn't get any photos of that one.

The chassis hunt continues...

Billy_Bottle_Caps HalfDork
3/16/13 8:26 p.m.

In reply to Woody:

Love this thread Woody

Woody MegaDork
3/16/13 8:51 p.m.

Time for a nifty little side note about Doodlebugs:

The two that I saw today were just shortened Model A's, with driveshafts running from the transmissions to heavy duty truck axles, which were then bolted directly to the frame. This was probably pretty common.

But the really cool way to build a Doodlebug was to shorten the chassis, skip the driveshaft altogether, bolt two transmissions together in series and run the second one directly to the rear axle. Two three-speeds would give you a choice of ten forward combos and three reverse. Putting both transmissions into reverse would give you a super low, stump pulling forward gear ratio!

Josh SuperDork
3/17/13 7:41 p.m.

I swear I just made a post in this thread, where did it go? In the lost post, I was asking why this post seemed to be coming back to the top of latest posts every few hours despite nobody having posted in it since yesterday... who broke the internets?

Woody MegaDork
3/17/13 7:44 p.m.

I've been trying to post something and the photos aren't loading right so I deleted it.

Woody MegaDork
3/21/13 5:16 p.m.

Hmmm....I don't hate this:


chandlerGTi Dork
3/21/13 7:43 p.m.
Woody wrote: Hmmm....I don't hate this: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1929-Custom-Model-Speedster-B-Engine-Runs-Loud-Fast-True-Nice-/251248921168?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item3a7f9a4a50#v4-42

Not attractive to me, I like a good truck though. Looks like fun!

mazdeuce Dork
3/21/13 8:35 p.m.
Woody wrote: Hmmm....I don't hate this: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1929-Custom-Model-Speedster-B-Engine-Runs-Loud-Fast-True-Nice-/251248921168?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item3a7f9a4a50#v4-42

This is a direction I like. I'd like to put together a car where leather helmets and goggles would look appropriate.

Woody MegaDork
3/21/13 9:45 p.m.

I'm liking the front half of this car too, though I'd want to handle the side profile and seats differently.

Woody MegaDork
3/21/13 9:47 p.m.

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