It's strange that while hot rodding has grown from a backyard hobby involving a handful of young speed demons into a $25 billion a year industry with its own lobby in Washington, there is still a sense of community in which everyone seems to know each other. If a person has been involved in the scene for many years, and if he's been driving an easily recognizable car the whole time, he can slowly become a sort of quasi celebrity, similar to Norm on the Cheers television show, who was always met with a chorus of greetings as he walked through the door. John Good is just such a person. Originally born and raised in Ohio, John relocated to the Golden State a few decades ago and has been enjoying year-round cruising weather in some sort of hot rod or another ever since.
While he has owned a bevy of different, interesting rides, from Model A Tudors to fat-fendered convertibles and sleek Corvette Stingrays, the two cars John is known best for are his '48 Ford Explorer, which was hand-built based on a concept illustration he saw right here in the pages of R&C, and his old standby, the orange '29 roadster you see pictured before you. Graced with perfect proportions and classic early-'60s style, this A-V8 has been in vogue since the day it was built over 20 yeas ago. The Goodguys have named it a Righteous Roadster a number of times, and luminaries such as Wally Parks and Tom Medley have stopped to admire the car and reminisce about their own similar rides from decades past. The roadster is truly a testament to good taste, which never goes out of style.
Based on an early fiberglass '29 roadster body mated to a highly modified OEM '32 frame, this car was originally built by a fellow named Garth Bowie in Phoenix, Arizona. Considering the fact that it was built in the earliest years of aftermarket fiberglass body development, this body is quite a nice piece, featuring a stock steel cowl, fuel tank, and dash. Bill Knight did the paint and striping, and the bright orange lacquer still stands out in a crowd. The roadster was eventually sold, and three or four owners later, it ended up in John's hands in 1986. Starting from the front and working his way towards the tail, he began the slow process of going through his ride one system at a time, rebuilding things as they needed it, including the front suspension, motor, interior, wiring, etc.
Although the mechanicals have been periodically freshened up over the years, the basic car has remained the same, a rolling testament to original street rod style. Somewhere along the line John managed to pick up a set of Kelsey Hayes bent-spoke wire wheels and stock '29 Ford headlights, which he swaps onto the car once a year or so just for a different look. Other than that the little A-V8 has remained the same for over 30 years, and it is still driven thousands of miles annually hitting all the big shows out West. Has John ever gotten tired of driving the same old roadster year after year? Not hardly. In fact, he's not planning on changing a thing, because as long as he's behind the wheel of this classic little cruiser, everybody knows his name.
'29 Ford Roadster
Drivetrain: Since the original powerplant was a flathead four, lightweight cars like this Model A roadster don't need much to get them going, but in classic hot rod style John subscribed to the "more is better" approach and put together a stout small-block with all the fixins to slip under the hood. A standard-bore 350 was capped off with ported and polished camel hump heads then fortified with a pretty hefty cam and an Offy intake manifold. A Carter AFB handles the fuel duties, while a Mallory electronic ignition lights the fire. Sanderson headers channel the fumes out of the motor and into dual glasspacks. The power is channeled through a TH350 built by A-1 Racing transmissions in Canoga Park, California, who fitted the slushbox with a shift kit and a 3,500-rpm-stall converter. A Hurst shifter controls the action.
Chassis: An original deuce frame was procured by Garth Bowie of Phoenix, Arizona, who boxed the rails and added a fortified X-member with a Model A crossmember in front. Out back a 9-inch Ford rearend holding 3.00:1 gears is hung from a chromed '40 Ford rear spring, while chrome Monroe shocks dampen the ride. The front suspension is as traditional as it gets, with a dropped and chromed I-beam axle suspended by a TCI leafspring. The '40 Ford drum brakes are bolted to '40 Ford spindles, both of which are chrome-plated along with the split wishbones and '49 Ford truck steering setup.
Wheels & Tires: Right now a set of steel wheels measuring 15x4.5-inches in front and 15x10-inches out back reside on the car shod in radial rubber. Gigantic 285 Series BFG meats make for lots of traction, while 165 Series Michelins point the car in the right direction. John also keeps a set of Kelsey Hayes bent-spoke wire wheels on hand to swap on for a different look when the mood strikes.
Paint & Body: A very early fiberglass '29 roadster body was procured by original owner Garth Bowie in the '70s, who took the car to bodyman Bill Knight for a full workup. Orange lacquer and tan pinstripes cover just about everything, including a steel Model A cowl and dash. After purchasing the car years later, John made the firewall himself at a friend's sheetmetal shop and also cut down a deuce grille shell to fit-n-finish off the nose. Painted and striped King Bee headlights alternate with a set of stock '29 lamps for different looks depending upon the owner's mood.
Interior: After driving the car as it was for several years, John decided the cockpit needed a little freshening up, so he delivered the roadster to Fred's Hot Rod Shop in Simi Valley, California. The bench was covered in tan leather and cloth, and new carpet was cut to fit. The original dash was retrofit with a custom gauge cluster John fabbed and filled with Moon gauges, and a wood Grant steering wheel caps off the early-'60s look.