Rod & Custom Feature Car
Owner contact info:
Lynn Bird Torrance, California
1927 Ford Roadster Pickup

Nothing is ever store bought or prepackaged when Lynn Bird is putting together one of his hot rods. Starting with an original Ford Model A frame, Lynn sliced and diced the vintage chassis by boxing the 'rails, kicking up the rear crossmember, and moving it back to let the spring ride behind the axle. Up front, a genuine '32 Ford "heavy" dropped axle from Mor-Drop is located by a pair of split Model A wishbones that all mount to an original Model A crossmember. The front axle is flanked on by a pair of early Ford spindles and original '41 Lincoln brakes. Under the rear is a '59 Ford 9-inch rearend suspended by a pair of '36 Ford wishbones with a Model A spring for controlling the bounce. Steering chores are handled by a Ford F-1 'box.

Since the Ala Kart was the main inspiration for this project, an early Hemi mill was the only choice for Lynn. He had come across a 241ci Dodge Red Ram and finally decided he'd found the "right" hot rod for it. He prepped the little engine with a full rebuild and made it roar with a set of 0.030-over pistons, a Clay Smith cam, an Offy intake with Stromberg 97 "leakers," and a Mallory distributor. Stock exhaust manifolds direct the exhaust gases into an owner-built 2-inch stainless steel exhaust system. Directly behind the Hemi is a '48 Ford truck transmission with the shifter from a '39 Ford.

Wheels & Tires
Lynn even builds his own wheels, and the set for his Surf Kart uses four 15-inch Ford centers with original 5-inch outers on the front and reversed 5 1/2-inch outers on the rear. All the pieces were polished and chromed separately and then Lynn welded them all together. The tires are a pair of 5.60x15 Firestone whitewalls at the front and matching 8.20x15 on the rear.

Body & Paint
Lynn started with just a few leftover Model T and Model A pieces, reworking them thoroughly until they had become the Surf Kart. The starting point for the whole project was the cowl and doors from a '27 Model T roadster which Lynn expanded into a complete body, with a rear portion and bed he completely hand-formed. At one time he had considered running the car as a highboy, but the Model A fenders were such an important element that he forged through and reshaped them, going to great lengths to maintain the original edge beading.

While the Ala Kart is most recognizable from the unique grille treatment, Lynn wanted to stay a little closer to tradition and used an original '32 Ford grille shell, massaging it into shape and fitting it with a custom mesh insert with handmade grille bars. Guide headlights on a custom dropped light bar were added, and '52 Buick taillights were fitted in the custom rear panel, with the same mesh used in the grille. Lynn sprayed the Valspar Turquoise paint and added just the right amount of fogging and Pearl White accents to nail the late-Fifties era he wanted to represent. "Bruce the Brush" finished off the exterior with some fine line work.

The no-nonsense passenger compartment utilizes a pair of early sports car seats of unknown origin that fit well in the confines of the early body. Since a '57 Ford steering wheel was a mandatory item in hot rods of the late-Fifties, Lynn picked one up, restored it, and sprayed it Pearl White. The dash is fitted with a Stewart-Warner panel filled with SW Twin Blue gauges that were produced for a brief time in the late-Fifties. Lynn found a set of the rare gauges still in the box from an old boat shop. The home-built project was completed with an owner-stitched upholstery job trimmed in Pearl White and black marine vinyl.