It's been a long time since we did a Model T issue, but these extremely early Fords were once popular raw material for street rodders and, therefore, popular features in the pages of this magazine. So much so, in fact, that we dedicated a large portion of our January '71 issue to Model Ts. One of the nicest trick Ts featured in that issue was Alan Kahan's black '24 coupe. We recently rediscovered the coupe, still owned by Kahan, still great looking, and still in virtually the exact same condition as it appeared in 1971.
When the coupe was originally shot for R&C, Kahan had already owned it for more than a decade. Alan bought the car, or at least the parts that would evolve into this car, as a teenager in 1958. Rod builder Dick Ryerson was the first to begin the work that would turn a collection of parts into a rod. In its first configuration, the steel body rode on stretched-and-boxed A-rails, powered by a hot rodded '50 Oldsmobile 303 engine. Eventually, the T was completed at Barris Kustom City. George Barris displayed the finally finished coupe at the '64 Winternationals Custom Auto Fair in Los Angeles.
In 1966, the Olds engine was swapped for a Ford 289 out of a '65 Mustang. Howard Caccia of Morro Bay, California, custom built a hood for the T in 1967, and the coupe has remained essentially unaltered since then. Kahan's T had attracted the attention of Jim "Jake" Jacobs, who wrote the original story on the coupe. In that story, Jacobs reported that "plans call for continued street use." We're happy to report that, 32 years later, the T is still driven on a regular basis.
Kahan recently had the coupe freshened up by Jeff Wasserman and by Jerry Lechich at Jerry's Rod Works in Venice, California. Lechich introduced us to Kahan last year, when we featured his red '29 roadster on the October '02 cover. Ultimately, the T will be passed on to Alan's son, Aaron, who was five when he posed next to the T for the '71 R&C. Aaron, now a member of the Choppers in Burbank, wrote a feature on his dad's car for the '02 issue of Hop Up. Count on many more years of street use for this long-time tall T.
Alan KahanMarina del Rey, California'24 Ford T Coupe
Drivetrain: Blackie's Auto Wrecking in Sun Valley, California, replaced the Oldsmobile engine with a bone-stock 289 and C4 transmission from a recently wrecked '65 Mustang. This was 37 years ago; the engine hasn't been torn apart since but still runs strong. Headers are '65 Shelby Cobra Y-pipes with 30-inch glasspack mufflers.
Chassis: The chassis was one of the first things to be redone when Kahan first bought the car. Dick Ryerson boxed a '29 coupe frame, adding a rear crossmember and lengthening the rails 6 inches. The frontend and springs are deuce parts, with a front axle dropped 4 inches and filled by Okie Miller. Spindles and brakes are from a '40 Ford. Shocks are Aldans in front and Pete & Jake's in the back. The rear springs and differential, which runs 3.78:1 gears, are '39 Ford. Many N.O.S. parts came from Parts Obsolete in Long Beach, California.
Wheels & Tires: Remarkably, even the rolling stock remains unchanged. The 16-inch Kelsey Hayes wire rims were purchased in 1960 for $10 apiece and painted Apple Green. The skinny bias-ply blackwalls are 16-6.50 and 16-4.75 Firestones.
Body: The original T body, running boards, and front fenders had been left for dead in the Mojave Desert, and dry rot and termites were working to finish it off. Alan revived them, and Howard Caccia of Morro Bay, California, built a custom stock hood, which was lengthened 6 inches since the body was moved back several inches on the frame. Other details include gennie '26 Ford bumpers, front and back, '26 headlight housings with sealed beam lamps from a '57 Chevy, and a single '30s-era trailer taillight that Alan bought for 75 cents.
Paint: We're talking about 39-year-old paint. The paint job you're looking at right now was done by Stan Wiesbard in 1964, using 9 gallons of Duco lacquer and thinner. In 1966, Alan took the T to Reseda, California, where Von Dutch added the low-key (to Alan's relief) Apple Green pinstriping around the windows, beltline, deck, hood, and fenders. Cost of the striping was $60, plus an additional $20 when Alan asked for the famous signature.
Interior: Barris Kustom City did the interior work, with stock-style upholstery done in black Naugahyde. The Model T dash is filled with Stewart-Warner gauges (the 160-mph speedometer fits the stock bezel). The '50 Ford parking brake handle is located in the column drop. Leather straps raise and lower the windows. The steering wheel is a genuine '15 Ford wooden wheel with steel spider spokes.