Rod & Custom Feature CarDean JohnsonHutchinson, Kansas1929 Ford coupeChassisGene and Dean started with a set of '32 Chevy 'rails and shortened them to 106 inches by removing 4 inches just in front of the rear kickup. A recessed boxing plate was welded inside of each 'rail for reinforcement. Model A front (flattened 1 1/4-inch) and rear crossmembers were added, along with a '40 Ford X-member fitted with a 3/16-inch plate to provide a transmission mount. A '39 Ford pedal assembly was mounted on the X-member with the pedal arms tweaked to fit the narrowed frame. Curved pieces of 1/8-inch strap iron were welded over the ends of the framehorns to look similar to a Model A frame. Split wishbones and a shortened '34 spring with reversed eyes locate a homebuilt dropped axle; Pete & Jake's tube shocks are mounted to a pair of F-1 shock mounts. Moving to the rear, the Johnsons wanted an open-drive axle mounted with the traditional Model A de-arched buggy spring. Although it is usually not recommended, they used a "mismatched" ring-and-pinion combination. A '35 Ford 4.11:1 ring gear and a '42-47 pickup 4.11:1 pinion gear were fitted by carefully selecting axlehousing shim gaskets. It's still running quietly after 2,500 miles. The '35-36 axles and housings were used for the spring perch and radius-rod mounts. Ladder bars were made from a combination of '35 Ford radius rods and aluminum aircraft bomb bay struts.
DrivetrainGene and Dean felt a hot rod should look, sound, and perform in a way that grabs your attention-multiple carburetors and a wicked idle generally fill these needs. The Johnsons got just what they wanted with a '57 Chevy small-block punched out to 301 ci and filled with Jahns pistons. A Lunati cam (Duntov replica) was installed along with an Edelbrock 3x2 intake topped with a trio of Stromberg 48s and 1961 vintage Honest Charley chrome oval air cleaners. A finned coil cover, a pair of vintage Cal Custom valve covers, a generator, and a remote oil filter complete the retro look. A Camaro T5 five-speed gives the little coupe both performance and economy but is concealed with a modified '35 shift lever topped with a '37 knob.
Wheels & TiresWhen it came to wheels, Dean chose 16x4 '36-39 wide-fives covered in Vermillion Red acrylic enamel and accented with stainless '36 Spyder hubcaps. The wheels were then fitted with 4.50x16 and 6.50x16 Firestone Champion Deluxe bias-ply blackwalls.
Body & PaintThe only modifications made to the body were moving the gas tank to the trunk, notching the rear fenderwells to clear the axles, and punching 45 louvers in the visor, which was done by Larry Wharton. Gene sprayed the body in their barn with an Albert Blue topcoat.
InteriorThe interior was turned over to Steve Stegman of Great Bend, Kansas, who covered the stock seat and door panels with red vinyl rolls 'n' pleats. A '38 column with a deluxe banjo wheel and the Stewart Warner Wings gauges keep with the '50s look. No air conditioning or stereo here-the only addition to the cabin was a 1940s Alvis hot-water heater with a '33 Ford grille logo.