By now anyone that isn't living under a rock (or without basic cable) knows that Boyd Coddington and his crew of builders, fabricators, machinists and painters have a TV show that follows all of their activities in the schedule of motorized programming on the Discovery Channel called American Hot Rod. This show gives viewers a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes to put together some of the best known hot rods built at Boyd Coddington's Garage and gives everyone a better sense of the struggles that multiply when you are on a super tight deadline to make it to the next big event. Vehicles that normally take a year to be assembled are put together in front of the cameras in as little as six to eight weeks from start to finish. It's an amazing feat, but as Roy Schmidt the always grumpy but equally entertaining fabricator on the show points out, "we've never missed a deadline yet."
Known for putting together the slickest trend-starting vehicles for the last 25 years, Boyd turned the page way back on his latest project and decided what he really wanted was something much simpler, less high maintenance, a back-to-basics hot rod, something lovingly referred to as a "beater." Since this build wouldn't be as difficult as some of the other vehicles like the "AlumaTub" and the "WhatTheHey," Boyd added a twist that his machine shop foreman Mike Curtis would also be building a "beater" and when they were finished they would each drive their creations to the NSRA's Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. So was born the "Beater Build Off."
With a generous 8 weeks to put it together, the crew started on the project with the procurement of a '26 Ford Model T Coupe body. They knew it was going to be fenderless and that's when someone recognized that the curve of the lower body was very close to the curve of early Chevy framerails. The next step was to grab a set of '31 Chevy rails and sure enough it was a perfect match! The frame got the full treatment from Boyd employees Al Simon and Jimmy Pett with some custom cross members to hang all the traditional chassis pieces. Up front, a Magnum 5-inch dropped axle is located by a pair of split wishbones with bounce controlled by a Posies spring and Pete & Jake's shocks. Vega steering guides a pair '40 Ford spindles connected to a set of '48 Ford juice brakes. The rear is more classic machinery with a Ford 9-inch held in place with additional pieces from Pete & Jake's and Posies.
With the chassis up and rolling the body was given its share of attention starting with the chopping of the top and at the same time the most interesting body change, the reworked quarter window openings. Care was given not to make the body "too slick" with the retention of the door hinges and factory bodylines, but subtle changes like the filled cowl vent, raised rear wheel wells and frenched Pontiac taillights stick with the vintage hot rod theme. The package was made complete with a true hot rod nose consisting of a one-off reshaped T shell and a custom-built three-piece hood. While the rods that roll out of Boyd's shop are world famous for flawless paintwork the final coating for the T is a nostalgic red oxide primer.
Knowing the car was to be driven cross country the guys didn't go the wussy route with a fresh out of the crate combo as the T stays true to the "beater" plan with a rebuilt '59 Chevy 283 mated to a freshened Powerglide trans. Sitting on top of the vintage mill is a pair of Edelbrock carbs on an Edelbrock manifold. Proof that small-blocks never get "old" the little mill pumped out a healthy 370 hp on the dyno before slipping into the framerails.
The last matter of business would be the cockpit that Boyd would get to know so well on his "little" jaunt. No tilt columns, cruise control or air conditioning is anywhere to be found inside the T, but what you do find is a very nice black vinyl stitch job by Gabe Lopez. Simple controls consist of a Lime Works '40 Ford steering wheel atop a matching column and a Lokar shifter. Vitals are monitored by a set of Stewart Warner winged gauges in a Boyd custom built dash.
With the cameras in their faces, the Coddington crew not only put together the car in time (completed it in seven weeks!), but they also made it to the Nationals with out any major problems. That might be easy to do in one hot rod, but when you head out with three freshly built "beaters" (Mike Curtis' flathead powered '29 Pickup and Jim Rizzo's "Budget Beater" T traveling along with Boyd in his '26) a full film crew, all the shop guys and spouses in tow in multiple chase vehicles you could expect some level of chaos, right? Well you'll just have to catch all the details on the Discovery Channel to see what happened! Check local listings and enjoy.
'26 Ford Model T Coupe
It's all time-tested components propelling this hot rod. A '59 Chevy 283 was bored .030-over before being balanced and blueprinted by A&D Racing in La Habra, CA. An Edelbrock dual carb set-up feeds the little mouse that pumped 370 hp on the dyno. Advanced Transmission in Gardena, CA went through the Powerglide tranny before it slid into the chassis.
An unlikely pair of '31 Chevy rails is the basis for the chassis. It was noted that the Bowtie rails profile closely resemble the lines of the T body so Boyd builder Al Simon tackled the task of whipping up some custom cross members and hanging a host of traditional components from them. Up front it's a Magnum 5-inch dropped axle, split wishbones, Posie's spring, Pete & Jake's shocks, '40 Ford spindles, '48 Ford brakes and Vega steering. Out back is a Ford 9-inch rear, Pete & Jake's ladder bars and another Posies springs.
WHEELS & TIRES:
Do you think it's hard for the "King of Billet Wheels" to resist the urge to outfit his own hot rod with a set of simple steelies? Probably not, because when you have a vision for a simple car you need to keep it simple. Traditional rollers consist of a pair of 15x5 rims wrapped in 165R15 rubber and a pair of 16x7 steelies in 215/85R16 skins.
BODY & PAINT:
With an original '26 T Coupe body to start with the Boyd boys whacked a few inches from the roof and reshaped the rear window openings followed by filling the cowl, raising the rear wheel wells and frenching a pair of '50 Pontiac taillights. A custom built Model T-style radiator shell and three-piece hood lead the way for the red oxide primer coated Coupe.
Bare basics cabin is wrapped in Gabe Lopez (Bloomington, CA) stitched black vinyl. Classic controls are a Lime Works '40 Ford-style wheel and column and a Lokar shifter. Stewart Warner wings in a custom-built dash panel monitor vitals.