Of course, there were undoubtedly a few people searching for bloopers. They would've had a hard time finding any. With the exception of seatbelts, a modern hand brake, and an automatic transmission, discrepancies are invisible-pretty amazing considering that, unlike the little plastic model, the full-sized Black Widow actually has to work. It's kind of ironic that, considering his emphasis on accuracy, Michael himself will be one component the original model never had: a driver.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Michael & Felice Feinstein
1926 Ford Model T Roadster Pickup
In order to replicate the proportions of the model, the framerails were handbuilt using 3x2 rectangular tubing, with a C-notch for clearance in the rear, and front and rear crossmembers plus a tubular center section for strength. The front end features split wishbones with the ends formed to match the model, a '40 Ford transverse spring mounted beneath the radiator, a dropped, filled, and peaked "dago" axle with Ford spindles and dropped steering arms. The steering box is from a Ford F1 pickup and the modified drag link is from a Model A. At the rear, a Posies custom leaf spring and split wishbones (with the E-brake cable routed through) support a '46 Ford rearend with an open-drive conversion. Ford drum brakes and Pete & Jake's chrome tubular shocks were added all around.
The '56 Chevy 265ci small-block runs stock internals and lots of external dress-up parts, following the look of the scale model. Triple Stromberg 97s, fed by an early Edelbrock fuel log through red fuel lines, are mounted on an Offenhauser aluminum intake manifold and topped with frog-mouth-style air cleaners. Chrome-plating covers the Corvette 7-rib valve covers, generator, stock exhaust manifolds, lake pipes and firewall. The vintage radiator is from Brassworks and the dual-point ignition is from Mallory. Russ' Transmissions in Northridge, California, put together the TH350 automatic.
Body & Paint
The body came from an original, intact, fendered '26 roadster pickup Michael purchased in Iola, Kansas. Chris Beal at Hollywood Hot Rods did much of the bodywork that transformed the stock RPU into the Black Widow. Damaged doorskins and one of the side panels were handbuilt. The bed was also remade, shortened approximately 12 inches and riveted for the correct appearance, with stained oak used for the bed floor. Rear fenders were fabricated, based on Model A rears, and the front fenders were built from motorcycle rear fender blanks. Dietz headlights were installed on each side of the Model T grille; dual taillights are also Model T. The Carson-style top material stretches over a lift-off aluminum frame (on the dash, a period-correct brass tag reads "Houser's Carson Padded Tops"). The windshield frame is an original piece, restored and chromed. A late Model T sedan fuel tank, equipped with an original brass filler and steel lines, is mounted in the bed. Michael brush-painted his first Black Widow model; Mark Selkirk at The Custom Shop in Canoga Park, California, sprayed this one with PPG Concept 9000 single-stage black. Jame Stormes' pinstriping and graphics accurately replicate the decals provided with the model kit. The ACES car club plaque was copied from the decal sheet. Christensen Plating and Van Nuys Plating provided all the outstanding chrome.
Wheels & Tires
The 15x4 and 15x6 Ford steelies from Wheel Vintiques are obscured by modified Moon-disc caps. The Firestone front ribbed dirt track tires and grooved rears came from Coker, and not only match the model, but match the style of other cars coming out of Hollywood Hot Rods.
Victor Zuniga at Zuniga's Auto Upholstery in Northridge, California, did a great job creating a full-sized version of a tiny plastic interior. The bench has stock Model T springs on the inside, and red and off-white tuck 'n' roll vinyl, with hand-stuffed 2-inch pleats, on the outside. The seatbelts were made using Fifties-style material and buckles. The custom door panels received pleated inserts (the bed and bed cover are also upholstered), and red Daytona Weave carpet covers the floor. Fifties-era Stewart-Warner gauges were used in the modified original steel Model T dash. Troy Ladd wired the car using cloth covered wire. The Bell Auto Parts three-spoke dirt track steering wheel tops a chrome custom column. An honest-to-goodness pool hall 8-ball was drilled to top the Gennie shifter.