This is the same '29 Model A sedan that Alex Loper's dad remembered seeing on the streets of Beloit, Wisconsin, back in the early '60s. It wasn't a hot rod then, just an all-original car, modified only with a strip of reflective tape running along the beltline of the body. That's just before it disappeared into storage. Decades later, when Alex bought the Model A and dragged it back out into the world, it had a bad case of surface rust all over it, and a remaining fragment of the reflective tape across the back.
When Mike Bruns heard his friend Alex had bought the sedan and was planning to build the complete and completely original A into a highboy, he tried to convince him to leave the fenders in place. "Alex said if somebody wanted to buy the fenders, he'd sell them," Mike remembers. "I told him I'd buy the whole car from him." When Alex finally agreed to the deal, Mike ran over and bought it before Alex had time to change his mind.
Mike grew up around hot rods and race cars. He got his first car, a '57 Chevy, when he was 14. When he was 16, his father, Al (who built drag race cars) helped him build his first small-block Chevy. Since then, he has owned several cars, but the '29 is the first one he built completely from the ground up.
When he got the untouched sedan home to Janesville, Mike tore it completely apart. The factory sheetmetal was media blasted in preparation for metalwork, and the remaining inner structure was replaced with new wood. Al let him use the sheetmetal equipment in his race car shop for building a new firewall and floors. His friend, Tony Bumbar, helped him chop the top 3 inches and taught him how to do lead work. Sadly, Tony passed away before the car was finished, but Mike says his memory provided the motivation for him to get the car done.
The completed body was torn apart again for Bob Grossenbacher's old-timey paint job. The finished sedan was dropped onto a traditionally styled Cornhusker chassis and loaded with a crate 350ci Chevy engine. After Mike was done with the wiring, Portage Trim in Ravenna, Ohio, added the rolled 'n' pleated Naugahyde interior. The nickname, Sin Wag'n, was contributed by the Cheaters car club from Milwaukee, after seeing photos of the "evil-looking" flamed A. Mike liked the moniker and it stuck.
When Mike took it around the block last Easter weekend, it was the first time the Model A had seen the street in 40 years. Since then, Mike has been making up for lost time, keeping the sedan on the road, and showing it off at hot rod shows.
'29 Model A Sedan
The 350 Chevy crate motor gets fed through a 6x2 Offy intake and a six-pack of Classic Gas/Mooneyes EFI Strombergs, built for Mike by Ken Farrell. The stacks are capped with chrome helmet air cleaners. Valve covers are Mooneyes' finned version, and homebuilt header pipes handle the exhaust duties. A 700-R4 automatic backs up the small-block, with a Halibrand Champ quick-change differential with 3.50:1 gears at the rear axle.
The chassis is built around a Cornhusker boxed frame, raised 3 inches in the rear with box tubing, to make room for the quick-change. The drilled 4-inch dropped I-beam axle with Magnum spindles hangs on POSIES springs and chrome shocks. Coilovers are used in the rear. Other components include hairpin radius rods, front Panhard bar, and a Mullins aluminum Vega box. Brakes are SO-CAL Buick-style front discs and rear drums.
Wheels & TiresAfter saving the factory-original fenders, Mike had to fill them with the right rolling stock. He did all right by selecting Coker bias-ply whitewall rubber (measuring 5.60x15 and L78x15, front and rear) to roll on 15x5 and 15x8 steelies, dressed up with '42 Ford caps and ribbed trim rings.
Body & Paint
Mike handled the initial metalwork and lead work on the factory-original sheetmetal, with help from Tony Bumbar. Tony and Mike brought the top down 3 inches and filled the roof with a '64 Ford wagon roof with an original-style vinyl top glued over it. Bob Grossenbacher sprayed the PPG black basecoat and clear, before adding some airbrushed flames. The gold leaf art on the rear is the work of Randy Russell (Edgerton, Wisconsin). Mike made the hood straps using a Limeworks kit.
I know it's only tuck 'n' roll, but we like Portage Trim's white Naugahyde with red piping, wrapped around some Wise Guys buckets, modified by Mike. The color combo carries over to the '40 Ford wheel, handbuilt by Dennis Crooks at Quality Restorations (Poway, California), and turning a Limeworks column. Stewart Warner gauges look great in the Brookville '32 dash. The Hidden Audio system includes a 10-disc changer, and detracts minimally from the traditional look. Speaking of looks, the shifter gets a few. Mike added 7 inches to the Gennie Shifter, capped by one of Norm Grabowski's hand-carved skulls, "to scare the pants off the asphalt."