Tracy Turner had owned performance cars in the past, but when he and his wife, Laura, got back into the hobby, they decided to do it with something really cool and really fun. "I have always admired the simplicity of traditional hot rods and noticed that, at most of the shows I was attending, the people with these cars seemed to be enjoying themselves the most," he said.
After flipping through magazines and parts catalogs, Tracy concluded that, with a little planning, smart choices, and working on one section of the car while saving up for parts for another section, he could build a reliable, safe, and fun hot rod on a low-buck budget. And it was a $50 swap meet rearend that started the build on one of the coolest homebuilt Model As we've seen in a while.
Sometimes, his budget backfired, as in the case of a $180 small-block. Tracy rebuilt the top end, but he discovered some serious bottom-end problems when he finally fired it. "I was devastated, because I didn't have the cash to send out the short-block for a rebuild," he said. "But, when I got home the next day, I found a newly remanufactured short-block on the stand." Tracy's father-in-law, Steve Moody, had stepped in to help keep the project moving. "Thanks to him, I had a new bottom end rebuilt and painted, my top end installed, and the engine back in the car and running." Tracy's own father, Thurman Turner, also contributed to the project, donating a lot of the parts and lending a hand throughout the buildup.
The '29 Tudor body was a $1,000 purchase from the swap meet at the '03 Street Rod Nationals in Louisville. It was in good condition, with near-perfect doors and no major rust except for the subrails, which were removed when Tracy channeled the body.
That 4-inch channel plus a 4-inch chop gave the sedan a pure hot rod profile- and domino'd into a whole series of modifications. The grille shell was notched at the bottom to sit over the frame, keeping the proportions just right. Instead of recessing the firewall to fit the small-block, Tracy slid the body back 4 inches to keep the engine out in the open. The wheelbase stayed the same, so he pushed the wheelwells 4 inches forward. "The metal in the body was so nice I hated to cut it out only to turn around and replace it," he said. "So, I just cut a new arch, recessed the sheetmetal, and welded in strips to fill it in."
The sedan was ready to drive three years after Tracy bought the rearend that started the whole thing. "My daughter, Blaney, who is the reason this is a sedan and not a coupe, was 4 at the time and wanted the first family trip to be to go get ice cream. ever since, she has referred to the car as the Ice Cream getter."
Nowadays, the sedan is almost always going somewhere. "The longest trip was a 1,500-mile round trip to the Jalopy Showdown in Pennsylvania, just to hot-lap it on a muddy dirt track," Tracy recalled. "It's not uncommon to see it in the parking lot at the grocery store or the hardware store. If I don't drive it to work, my wife does. I drove it in the snow to go sledding with Blaney and parked it among the 4x4 SuVs."
Whether it's parked among SuVs or show cars, Tracy's Tudor is typically one of the coolest cars in the crowd. "I built it the way I wanted and the way I wanted it to look," he said. "I built what I consider a hot rod. I'll probably never sell this car. It may go through a few transitions during its life, but it will always remain a simple hot rod."
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1929 Ford Model A Tudor
Tracy built a new frame for the sedan using 1-1.2x3-inch 'rails from Total Performance Incorporated, fabricating new motor and transmission mounts to raise the driveline a couple of inches. he also added a center crossmember and stepped the chassis 5 inches in the rear, C-notching the frame above the axle. The Super Bell dropped axle and spindles are suspended on a four-bar setup (Tracy said he'd probably go with more traditional hairpins if he ever redid it) plus a James durant monoleaf spring and Pete & Jake's shocks. Total Performance 36-inch radius rods attach to custom mounts, moving the rear suspension inside the 'rails. The Ford 8-inch rearend hangs on Total Cost Involved All American coilovers. Custom-built Panhard bars were added in the front and rear. The brakes are Ford F-1 drums in front and Mustang drums in the rear.
The bargain small-block was machined 0.040 over by Marshall engines and assembled at home. Fuel is hardlined to triple Rochester 2g carburetors on an offenhauser intake manifold. Jim Linder at Bubba's hot Rod Shop in Indy rebuilt the old delco distributor, replacing the points with PerTronix electronics and recurving them on one of his vintage distributor machines. A little paint on the Mooneyes solid finned aluminum valve covers dresses us the engine. The lakester-style headers were built by the owner. Muffl ers? No. A $60 Th350 out of the classified ads runs a Jeg's 1,700-rpm-stall converter. A modified Chevy van driveshaft connects to the 8-inch Ford rear with 3.50:1 gears.
Wheels & Tires
The old jalopy racing days come to mind when we look at the Firestone dirt-track bias-plies from Coker. Tracy mounted tall 8.90-16 grooved tread rear tires on 16x7 gennie wheels from wheel Vintiques. In the front, it's ribbed 5.00-15s on 15x5 rims.
Body & Paint
The steel Tudor body, a swap meet souvenir from the Street Rod Nats, was chopped 4 inches, channeled 4 inches, and moved back 4 inches, giving it a low and long hot rod posture, enhanced by the open engine compartment and lowered- but not sectioned-grille shell. denny Jameson at Automotive hammerart in Indy did the chop and molded the visor to the roof, filling the roof with a ribbed top from an '80 olds wagon. Tracy did the channeling and installed the tinted window glass. The sedan went to Indy Speed, Custom & Restoration in Brownsburg, Indiana, for final bodywork and paint. Carey Bewley and his staff prepped the car and shot the PPg primer, a blend of eight parts red and one part black, to create a cool red oxide tone.
It doesn't get much simpler than what you'll find on the inside of the '29. A '94 Ford Aerostar bench in front and a modified S-10 seat in the back were covered with a tan, white, and black Mexican falsa blanket, expertly hog-ringed by the owner. The lift-latch seatbelts are from Juliano's. The rear seat sits on sliders. A hinged package tray folds easily and slides forward to allow access to the gas tank and battery. The gauge insert in the stock dash was modified to fit a set of Classic Instrument gauges. A tach is tucked under the dash to the left of the Limeworks steering column, and the wheel is a '40 Ford-style part, also from Limeworks. The double-bend shifter is from Lokar and pedals are from Total Performance.
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