Memorable hot rods always have that wow factor when you first set eyes on them, and this Model A jumped out at us as soon as we walked into the Suede Palace at this year's Grand National Roadster Show. When we later talked to owner/builder Scott Miller and learned he was only 26, we were all the more impressed. Having previously owned a '65 Buick Special custom and a '29 modified, Scott decided his next project would be something special. "Clean and straight but radical," was how he put it, "something different but not gaudy. I wanted to build something timeless that people would remember." He wanted a quality machine he could enter in the Grand National Roadster Show.
With a father and grandfather who are both into restoring classic cars, and with a well-equipped workshop at home, Scott had the capability and facilities at hand. He just needed the opportunity, so he jumped on it when a friend of his grandfather told them about this Model A coupe for sale. Originally bought new by Southern California Edison and used for service calls, Scott is only the third owner, and discovered the original logo and colors while stripping it to bare metal. In the intervening years, it was used by the second owner's daughter to drive to college, and it was torn down to the last nut and bolt for a restoration when she tired of it in 1972. When the guy bought another Model A, this one sat in the yard-until Scott bought it.
Starting with a spare chassis he already owned, Scott Z'd it 9 inches in the rear to achieve the desired stance, mounting a '46 Ford truck banjo rearend on a Model A spring, matched to a Super Bell I-beam and '46 Ford spindles and brakes up front. Some '35 Ford wires are fitted all around, disguised by those cool Packard wheel covers. And, it's those caps and the choice of motor that draw you to this cool coupe. Nestled between the '31 body and the '32 grille shell is a 331ci Cadillac with '52 heads. The price of Caddy motors and parts has gone through the roof as of late, but this motor was given to Scott with a burnt valve, having originally called a '50 convertible home.
Scott spent half his paycheck every week having the motor machined by Hollywood Machine and collecting parts to build it up. He's particularly pleased with the intake manifold. "None of the available Caddy intakes did it for me," he told us. "Then, I found this Studebaker intake on eBay. I knew Caddy intakes fit on Studes, so I figured it'd work the other way around. I knew the Cad manifold needed milling, so the Stude would need raising. I made 5/32-inch spacers and used thick fiber gaskets. I feel the result looks more technical, and it's certainly cheaper than sourcing a Caddy version."
It's this attention to detail that prevails throughout the coupe, such as Scott's favorite part-the '37 trunk handles used as door handles-as well as the old '20s or '30s cast-iron file handle that he had brass-plated to do duty as a shifter knob, the neat Model T gas tank with a "wooden stick" gas gauge, and the working '33 cowl vent that keeps occupants cool, especially as the windshield doesn't open anymore. "I pride my builds on details, which is what makes a car stand out from all the others," Scott said. "Little did I know at the start how much work and money goes into making a car that nice!" However, running out of funds during the project gave him the time to put more thought and effort into it, and so it paid dividends in the long run. We're not sure if it's a regret, but Scott mentioned that the coupe started out to be a driver, yet he feels it became too nice somewhere along the way. Consequently, he finds it's not quite as enjoyable to drive as he anticipated and was actually contemplating selling the coupe when we spoke. Hopefully, he'll change his mind and at least enjoy it for a while, as it's a credit to him and deserves to be used and seen.