Alan Cape is no stranger to hot rods or the automotive trade. An ex-GM dealer, he now owns Flying A Motorsports in Cuba, Missouri, purveyor of race car trailers, and as such has many customers in the high performance and hot rod business. In addition to currently holding the keys to a pair of F-100s, a '56 and '59, he also has a '32 roadster in "a million pieces" at Bobby Alloway's shop, and a '32 Tudor that will be a semi-clone of the Eastwood & Barakat car. Then there's the '39 coupe that someday Dave Lane will build for him. However, by his own admission, "I'm getting to the age where I've got to get 'em done the way I want 'em."
With a company name like Flying A Motorsports, it's almost natural that Alan has a Model A amongst his stable of cars, this one coming about after he spied it on eBay. Eric Peratt, owner of Pinkee's Rod Shop in Windsor, Colorado, had originally started screwing it together as his personal ride, but put it on eBay out of curiosity to see what it might bring. "Eric and I are on the same wavelength," Alan said. "The coupe has 'the look,' and I could tell it was going to be special. It looks channeled but it's not. Eric knows what he's doing."
Eric had been wanting to use Pinkee's new sectioned '32 'rails on a project, so when a local Model A coupe was offered to him, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Once he made the decision to sell the partially completed project, he hoped any prospective buyer might let him finish it to see his vision through. When Alan expressed a desire to have Pinkee's finish the coupe, it worked out well for all concerned. The only major deviation from Eric's original plan was the replacement of the intended Flathead with a small-block, and then only because Alan intended to drive the coupe. A lot. "I've driven enough cars with Flatheads to know I don't want to set out cross-country on my own with one," he said. "I know guys do, but it's not for me." So the ol' sidevalve was ousted in favor of a 327 with Stromberg-style injection, supplied by Alan along with a T5 five-speed tranny.
At the time of purchase, roughly a month before this year's Grand National Roadster Show, the car consisted of little more than a body and chassis, with no detail work completed. "There was plenty of work to do to get it to the show, but it was the perfect place to showcase the new chassis," Eric said. Indeed it was, and the unfinished, bare metal coupe proved a big hit.
So what's so special about the chassis? Starting with a pair of regular '32 'rails, Pinkee's sectioned them, taking their overall height down from 6 inches to 4 1/2. This obviously lowered the car by 1 1/2 inches but also visually slimmed the 'rails, combining the slimmer look of Model A 'rails with the design feature of the '32 swage line and the '32's slight kick-up at the firewall, exaggerated here, again helping to lower the car. The 'rails were shortened in the rear and a Model A crossmember was added in front of the axle, enabling the rearend to sit higher in the car, once again getting the chassis closer to the ground.
The crew at Pinkee's went further still, and lopped off the front frame horns, boxing the 'rails and radiusing the forward ends before adding the front crossmember, now a curved affair that sits under the POSIES transverse spring, the latter clamped to the crossmember by way of a hand-fabbed suicide perch and clamps. That spring mounts to the split wishbones just aft of the dropped I-beam with more one-off perches. The whole setup is so low that the steering tie rod actually passes over the wishbones and chassis rails. All very clean, neat and tidy; the kind of workmanship Pinkee's has become known for. The wheelbase has also been stretched to "where it looked right." "I'd be lying if I said I knew by how much," Eric laughed.
In fact, the concept of the coupe seems to be to combine traditional elements-bias-plies, dropped I-beam, split wishbones, and early brakes, to name a few-with Pinkee's signature attention to detail and innovative twists on established building techniques. Take the rearend for instance. As with a previous masterpiece to come out of this shop (Royce Glader's roadster pick-up), it uses a Dutchman quick-change and POSIES quarter elliptical springs, but this time instead of using the springs as the lower arms in a four-link arrangement, they are used in conjunction with split wishbones, eliminating the need for top arms. Unlike Royce's car, though, the coupe will feature a full floorpan in the rear, with plenty of rivets and button head bolts, a theme that will also run through the interior, with riveted aircraft seats and aluminum paneling. "It'll be bare bones with weathered brown leather seat cushions, and that's about it," Eric said.
But all that's a ways off right now, as there's still plenty of fabrication to be taken care of before the finished car can debut later this year, not least of which being steering and a pedal assembly. "It'll have scratch-built hanging pedals, most likely using a modern Wilwood master cylinder hidden up under the cowl, with Schroeder-style steering," Eric said. "Except a Schroeder 'box is too fast for the street, so we'll probably use a reversed Vega or F-100 'box, with the Pitman arm coming out through the side of the cowl."
While talking with Eric about the coupe, we had to ask if he regretted selling it. "Oh yes, I seriously regret selling it, but I own a hot rod shop, I've got no time to own a car myself! I would like to stress how grateful I am to Alan for letting us run with it though," he said. Alan knows what he wants and has clear ideas on how a hot rod should look, but still admits, "I'm not talented enough to build 'em myself. I just watch in awe as they do what they do." Sounds like the perfect builder/customer relationship to us.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1930 Model A coupe
This car was built to showcase the new sectioned '32 'rails from Pinkee's Rod Shop, and it does admirably. A dropped Chassis Engineering I-beam is hung suicide-style on split 'bones from a trick arched crossmember, while a Model A rear crossmember ties the main 'rails together in front of the axle. A Dutchman quick-change and early Ford bells are located on split 'bones and adjustable-height quarter elliptical springs.
Alan supplied Pinkee's Rod Shop with a 327 Chevy to replace the Flathead originally slated to go in the coupe. Fuel injection is the induction method of choice, but with the appearance of six Strombergs. The traditional theme continues with a one-off engine mount at the front of the motor, and though there's a stick shift behind the 327, it's a T5 five-speed with an S-10 tailshaft. A Dutchman quick-change brings up the rear, with '40 Ford brakes at each corner.
Wheels & Tires
The coupe currently rolls on 16-inch Ford steelies with Merc 'caps and no trim rings, 4 1/2 inches wide in front with 4.50x16 Firestones, and five inches wide out back with matching 7.50 'Stones. However, whether they'll stay black on the finished car is another matter.
Body & Paint
Obviously there's no paint on the coupe at present, though Alan is leaning heavily toward a factory blue/gray color that he fell in love with on a '54 Effie he just sold. Pinkee's executed the3 1/2-inch top chop and recessed firewall, though the majority of sheetmetal work is under the car in the floorpan, which has been replaced entirely. There has also been some heavy modification to the subrails in the rear. A pinched '32 grille will eventually sit at the sharp end.
Again, there's not much to see at present, though aircraft seats and weathered brown leather cushions form part of the plan, along with riveted aluminum panels. A Bell-style four-spoke 'wheel will connect to a Schroeder-type 'box and Classic Instruments gauges will replace the temporary orange units in there now.