It was on April 1, 2005, when I first got a lead on a couple of Model A five-window coupes. A longtime hot rodder, Dick Braun had known about these cars for a while, and when he heard that my dad and I were on the hunt for some old Model A tin, he knew right where to take us. The coupes were right in our backyard, about three miles away in a rural part of Reno. The owner was an older gentleman who had purchased them about 15 years ago in hopes of building them into street rods. However, here they sat, stuffed away in the far corner of his property, forgotten and completely hidden from sight.
After climbing over about a dozen old construction trucks, the coupes could finally be seen. They hadn't been moved since the man had purchased them so they were both buried up to their axles in the sand. They had both been original Nevada cars for their whole existence. My dad and I split the difference for both of the coupes, and the deal was solidified with the man by a firm handshake.
After we got the coupes back to our house, I immediately started disassembling the one that was in the worst shape and missing the most parts. I picked that one because I wanted to make a channeled and chopped hot rod, so if I messed up I could refer back to the complete car sitting out back. Once I got the car disassembled, my dad finally let me take it into the garage so I could get things rolling. I told him there was only one rule: The car would be entirely garage-built by the two of us, and the only way it would leave was when I was in, it driving down the road! He agreed.
Building the frame was one of the most challenging tasks throughout the build. Both my dad and I were a little unsure about how we wanted to go about building it since neither of us had ever built a chassis before. After much deliberation, he finally gave in to my idea that the front of the frame had to be Z'd 4 inches and the rear 8 inches in order to achieve some room in a car with a 6-inch chop; otherwise, I couldn't fit. We measured what seemed about a million times, and then he stepped back as I started cutting and welding up a frame all on my own.After the frame build, everything started to go by more quickly. My Christmas break rolled around, and I had two entire weeks to get a lot of things done, the first of which was the top chop. We started by shimming the body and bracing the roof, and then we carefully taped out a line for a 6-inch chop, and started cutting. Later that same day, the roof was welded back on and the chop was complete, giving the coupe a whole new appearance.
When I first started building the car, I told my dad we had to have it done and driving by April 25, 2006, my Grandpa's 75th birthday. He was born the same year this car was produced, so it was only right that he would get the first ride in it on his birthday. Unfortunately, he passed away two months before the car was finished while recovering from open-heart surgery, so I knew it was going to take everything I could do to still give him the first ride somehow. I got the car done in 8 1/2 months, a week before my deadline, by working for a month straight until 1 a.m. on school nights with my dad, and with some very special help from a great friend, Garren SooHoo, owner of Nitro Street Rods here in Reno. I fulfilled my goal and promise to Gramps by setting his box of ashes in the original bomber seat and driving him around the outlining areas by my house. It was a day I will never forget.
On the car's maiden voyage, I took it out on the streets without the seat even being bolted to the floor, no front windshield, and no registration--a ticket waiting to happen. Fortunately, everything went well, and it was one of the most incredible feelings of accomplishment I've ever felt. I'm very proud of this car; it's everything I've dreamed about doing to my first hot rod. I've gained an insurmountable amount of knowledge throughout the whole build that not only helped me complete this car, but will help me for the many more projects to come in the future. I plan on keeping this car until I leave this earth, because when I'm a 78-year-old, gray-haired man, I want to be able to drive around in my first hot rod that I built entirely in my garage when I was an 18-year-old senior in high school.