Some of you may have already seen this Flatty-motored A roadster starring on Hot Rod TV, so when we met its owner Jordan Graham at the West Coast Kustoms show in Santa Maria, we figured the story behind its build was worth sharing. After all, there aren't many teenagers who get their own TV show, let alone many who have built their second traditional hot rod and still own them both! Also, Jordan tackled pretty much all the work on his rods himself, with advice from old-time hot rodders in his local area. Coming from the Solvang area of California, near Santa Barbara, this isn't surprising, but a lot of these guys that Jordan looked up to have passed away, and according to Jordan, "With a lot of their generation going away fast, I wanted to carry it on for all of them. I've taken their advice over the years and did what I've done to impress them.
"When I was 15 years old, my pops, Bill, moved into a new shop. Next door were eight old cars from 1924 to 1931. The widow who owned what had been her husband's obsession wanted me to dust the cars and get them off the ground onto jack stands. One day she asked if I'd like a car from her other property. My 15-year-old face lit up and I picked out a '31 Ford coupe, really rusty, tired, and stuck in the dirt.
"For the next two years I ground, welded, and pieced together a hot rod (the one in the background of these pictures) the way my heroes would have. The way they told me it was. My main influence was my best friend's grandpa, Yankie Breck. He was paralyzed in '68 and had a '32 five-window in his garage.
"After the coupe was finished, I decided someone locally had to start dropping axles. I thought of a plan and design and went for it, and have now dropped approximately 400 early Ford axles as the owner of Nostalgia Drop. I've been trying to build just plain bitchin' hot rods ever since.
"After realizing my goal of driving my coupe through my senior year of high school, I got a call one day from my good friend Jack Chard, who ran the lakes and streets of Santa Barbara in the '50s. He told me he'd just dug a '28 Model A roadster out of his brother's backyard where it had been sitting for more than 50 years. I was stoked; my dream car finally came up, and the good friend that he is, Jack gave me the car. Now it wasn't like you could just buff the paint and drive it; it had sat next to the ocean for 50 years and the rust was incredible, but I was young and had ambition up to my neck.
"Shortly after this, I delivered a dropped axle I'd donated to an episode of Hot Rod TV. They asked if I could weld and before I knew it I was working on the show as a fabricator. When the show aired, the producer Bud Brutsman wanted to thank me for the help and offered me a 30-minute episode to build a car. Wow! That was a lot to ask from an 18-year-old kid. Come December 2007, I had a build together for them: the '28 roadster body, a '32 frame, and Hallock windshield...
"We started shooting and it really set in that I had my own show with a real deadline of April 8! I worked night and day, seven days a week, periodically filming segments of the build. On April 6, I was in a rush making door panels in a stomp shear when it bit back and took an inch off my index finger. The 8th was the last day of filming and while I was in the hospital my dad and good friend Finn Lund slaved away to get the car running for the deadline so I could drive it to wrap up the show. I've been driving it ever since, with Santa Maria being its maiden outing to a show. I'd really like to thank my dad for rebuilding the trans and rearend, Adam Booth, Katrina, my girlfriend, and Finn Lund for making the most bitchin' floor for me."
Now most of us know that all those cars you see built on TV shows are either not quite finished, or nowhere near finished, and though Jordan's roadster was done and driving by the deadline, he's the first to admit that, though the experience was cool, the timetable of three months meant it didn't afford him the time to build it as perfectly as he'd have liked. But it's his daily driver, which means it's done for now, and that's just fine with us!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Owner contact info: email@example.com
1928 Ford Roadster
An original '32 frame, or rather now just the boxed 'rails, sits under that roadster body, employing a Model A front crossmember with 2 inches removed from its height, and a 4-inch swept kick-up in the rear where you'll find a Model A rear crossmember. A '40 Ford X-member and pedal make up the center of the chassis, all work handled by Jordan, who also dropped the '32 "heavy" axle used up front by 2 inches. Original '40 spindles and brakes and a stock Model A spring complete the frontend, with shocks still to come! A heated and 2-inch dropped Model A rear spring supports a '41 Mercury rearend; both front and rear springs were wrapped in army electrical tape, a trick suggested by the late Yankie Breck.
Working forward from that Merc rearend, Jordan shortened an original '32 torque tube while his dad Bill rebuilt a '32 transmission and coupled it with a '36 shifter. This connects through a stock flywheel to a '49 Mercury Flathead V-8 that came into Jordan's possession as an old hopped-up motor of unknown origin. He reports the compression is "crappy," though it contains an Isky cam and uses Offenhauser heads and intake. The twin carbs are Barry Grant Demon 98s, while the only other concession to modernity is the Mallory ignition. 1936 driveshafts cut in half form the basis of the headers, with no mufflers.
Wheels & Tires
Some 16x4-inch '40 Ford steelies support each corner of the roadster, a rubber rake provided by choosing 7.50-16 Silvertowns in the rear and 6.00-16 BFGoodrich hoops up front, bias-plies all around naturally, and with wide whitewalls. Coupled with the black painted wheels, the color scheme blends with the rest of the car.
Body & Paint
The body was truly trashed when it was given to Jordan, requiring patch panels all the way round. The subrails were gone and the rust extended 6 inches up the body throughout. After tackling the repairs, he welded in a '31 Chevy coupe dash. The Deuce grille was chopped 3 inches to fit the profile of the body, before Duplicolor pearl white was sprayed on most of the body and frame, the remainder being finished in black. Melvin Harris then added the Popeye graphics to the cowl, the Steve Sellers-supplied Hallock windshield went on, and a '28 Chevy gas tank went into the trunk. Jordan is currently working on an aluminum hood.
A more eclectic bunch of components you'd be hard-pressed to find, but they work in this roadster. Mismatched metal mail truck seats supply creature comforts (really?!) with a '38 Ford steering wheel topping the '32 column. Jordan wrote "mahogany and maple" in the carpet section of his tech sheet, and this also forms the firewall between the cockpit and the trunk, and certainly provides a different look than most roadsters. Those door panels that took his finger are still not fitted though.