Both Tim Bernsau and myself have on separate occasions spied Luis Loyola's A roadster at events over the past couple of years and been sufficiently intrigued to photograph it for event coverage. While a very cool traditional-appearing roadster in its own right, it was the blown Studebaker engine that caught our attention, as, lets face it, it's not exactly a belly button powerplant!
Owner of Loyola Auto Interiors in El Segundo, California, Luis has restored cars in the past for customers but this is his first ground-up build for himself. In fact this roadster should've been a Studebaker restoration, but went a little off-track! As Luis explains, "It all started when I went with Mike Myers, of Myers Studebaker, to look at a '51 Studebaker, and also for sale was a '63 Stude Hawk Gran Turismo. Mike looked under the hood and very excitedly told me without the seller hearing that this was a really special and very rare Hawk, so I did a deal and bought both cars. It turns out that in 1963 this Hawk was a special order with a 289 R-2 supercharged engine. Further research has revealed that only 42 of these cars were produced in 1963."
The first thing Luis did was send the motor to Engine Machine Service in Los Angeles to have it completely rebuilt using OEM parts supplied by Myers' company. The Paxton blower was also gone through, with a new impeller added to increase the boost from the stock 4-5 pounds to 8 pounds. The factory pressurized Carter AFB carburetor, unique to the R-2 engine, was also rebuilt. With the finished motor assembly on display in Luis' showroom at his shop for almost 10 years, the body of the Hawk spent that decade slowly rusting away.
Then inspiration struck when a surfing buddy of Luis', El Segundo legend, classic longboard and hot rod builder Tyler Hatzikian, brought his '28 Model A roadster to Luis' shop for an interior. Seeing the blown Stude, he talked Luis out of restoring the now rusty Hawk and said he'd help find a hot rod in which to install the motor. It didn't take long before Steve Beck at Check Point Automotive agreed to sell a '29 roadster body he had. Actually it was more a collection of panels and a gas tank, plus most of the parts Luis needed to assemble it into a body, which he did at his shop with the help of Hatzikian and good friend Harry Winston.
Luis says, "I used patch panels on the lower doors, quarters and rear wheelwells, and still have scars from all that welding! I added new body rails and used 3/4-inch marine plywood for the floors." Matt Harris at Dagmar Customs fabricated the recessed firewall, which was done below the seam in the firewall as Luis opted to retain the stock gas tank in the upper cowl, adding a blower-assisted mechanical fuel pump and fuel return bowl to prevent vapor lock.
When it came to the chassis, Luis says, "I wanted to set the body on an original style A frame, so he had SAC Hot Rods, in Anaheim, California, build one, Z'd at the rear, and fully boxed. They also mounted the motor and trans, installed the Currie 9-inch rearend and suspension, and fit the front brakes and master cylinder, though I fabricated the steel brake and fuel lines myself." With the chassis back at Luis' shop, and the body painted Glasurit Tan with added flattener for a satin finish by El Segundo Auto Body, the car was assembled. Luis really enjoyed the day it was fired for the first time, when all the friends who had helped during the build came by to hear it come to life, then helped adjust and dial the motor in.
As the owner of an auto upholstery shop, it was natural that Luis would trim the roadster himself, using Pumpkin-colored material and Wilton wool carpet. Wanting a convertible roof, Luis scored a set of top bows for free at a swap meet from a guy who didn't know what they were for. A little work reversing the bracketry saw them fit the Model A, Luis later discovering they were intended for a '32. He sourced a canvas supplier that had just enough Pumpkin-colored German canvas to match his interior, which he stitched up to resemble a stock Model A top, but with a 2-inch chop.
With the roadster finished and running perfectly, Luis has been driving the tires off it, even as far as Las Vegas last year, when it averaged almost 20 mpg, cruising 70-80 mph at under 2,000 rpm, thanks to the 200-R4 overdrive trans. With a blown motor, we'd say that's a case of having your cake and eating it too!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
El Segundo, California
1929 Ford Model A roadster
The basis of Luis' roadster is a Stage II chassis from SAC Hot Rods in Anaheim, CA. Z'd and boxed throughout it employs a stock Model A wheelbase, with a Super Bell dropped I-beam on a transverse leaf spring. A Vega steering box and disc brakes handle navigation and retardation duties. Out back a Currie 9-inch with Positraction differential is hung on a SAC-fabbed four-link and coilover shocks.
Mike Myers fabricated an adaptor plate to mate a 200-R4 overdrive transmission to the Studebaker engine that is the prime focal point of this roadster. The rare '63 V-8 came from the factory with that Paxton supercharger, both rebuilt with OEM parts to stock specs except for a 30 thou overbore for the engine and a new impeller for the blower, producing extra boost. The original intake manifold mounts a rebuilt pressurized Carter AFB carburetor, from which snakes a stainless intake ending at a stainless air cleaner mounted behind the left headlight, both from the talented hands of Matt Harris at Dagmar Customs. A Vintage Mallory coil, finned aluminum Studebaker valve covers, and lakes-style headers fabbed by Harris and wrapped by Luis complete the unique engine compartment.
Wheels & Tires
Stockton Wheels produced the 4 1/2-inch and 6-inch-wide 16-inch steelies, which wear '40 Ford style caps and beauty rings, wrapped in 4.50-16 and 7.00-16 Firestone Deluxe Champion blackwall bias-plies.
Body & Paint
Luis tackled the necessary rust repairs on the original '29 Ford sheetmetal, adding patch panels to the lower doorskins, rear quarter-panels and rear wheelwells, while Harris fabricated the recessed lower firewall. El Segundo Auto Body sprayed the Glasurit Tan body color, adding flattener to achieve a satin finish, painting the Guide headlights to match. A stock stainless '29 grille shell adds traditional flair to the front end way more than a painted version could.
Given it's his vocation, Luis handled the roof and interior himself, using German canvas on the modified '32 roadster roof, which matches the Pumpkin-colored seat and door panel upholstery. That cool grained faux leather is a pattern called Canyon from the Symphony Collection, which has a supple leathery hide texture and contrasts perfectly with the tan paint. Larry Winston used an EZ-Wiring harness to hook up the necessary electric systems, with Mooneyes gauges set in a custom panel by Luis under the stock dash panel. The period-looking '40 Ford steering wheel is by LimeWorks, as is the column itself.