This isn't Paul Bos' first Model A roadster pickup. "I bought that one when I was 9," he says. "My dad made me take it apart when he caught me driving it." That would've been about 1949. Guided by his uncle, Ben Bos, a speed pioneer in the San Diego, California, area both before and after the war, he put it back together with a succession of engines, each hotter than the last. A hot rodder was born.
Nor is it his second-for that one he swapped a regular Model A roadster, a red, Chevy-powered job that landed the cover of the Aug. '61 Hot Rod. "We traded everything except engines," he specifies. He sold that to build a T-bucket, a car Gary Rickels finished with Nailhead power and made famous in part by getting it on the cover of the Dec. '68 Rod & Custom.
Nor is it his third. No, Paul built that one in the late '90s after he finished his trademark '34 coupe, a car he swore would be his last rod. "I sold that one to buy property when we relocated to northern Idaho," he recalls.
This one is Paul's fourth. "It was going to be my last car before retiring so I wanted it to be like my first, a '28-29 Ford roadster pickup," he reveals. Only he stipulated two changes: "I always wanted a '40 Ford dash and a '32 grille shell."
He gathered parts, chief among them a Model A frame that Vern Tardel fortified with one of his interpretations of a Deuce K-member. Tardel also set it up with V-8 mounts and shortened the driveshaft for the '40 rear axle that came with it. The tin body Paul bought from Last Refuge Hot Rods resembles a stock Model A but its extended rear quarters make it more practical. The list of people who contributed parts reads like a who's-who of eastern Washington/northern Idaho hop-up culture: Logan Ascher, Chris Swenson, Shaun Skidmore, John Dickson, and Mike Robison (Antique Auto Ranch).
But the music stopped just as Paul started moving. "Before we were going to mount the body and bed to the frame, I injured my back and re-injured my neck," he laments. He explained how he persevered in the past but this time the doctor delivered a sobering prognosis: were Paul to hurt himself again, he might spend the rest of his life on a less desirable set of wheels, a slower, self-powered job with bicycle tires and a seat for him only.
Demoralizing events often stop projects in their tracks but this car may be better because of it. He called on friends Bob and Judy Bissonette at Rod Builders in Spokane Valley, Washington. "Bob [Bissonette] put one of his young employees, Dustin Reichel, on my project," he says.
You could say the car was a transaction of their skill sets: Paul offered history and time-honored techniques, which Reichel interpreted with modern tools and tricks. Ultimately, though, they found common ground in their ingenuity and resourcefulness. The origins of Paul's are obvious; he built his first hot rod before the industry as we know it existed. Reichel's was largely self-imposed; to preserve the flavor of a car built before catalog parts existed, he intentionally made do with what he had rather than rely on what was available.
He also learned to build the whole car rather than subcontract its construction to "specialists". In one instance when a bid for bodywork and paint threatened the budget, Reichel, a fabricator and panel shaper at heart, learned the finishing end of the trade. "I'd done some bodywork before but never a whole car," he explained. He ended up painting it the same way Paul and his pals did: outside. "And look at it," Paul says, rapping the door with his knuckle. "It turned out great."
Inspired by his success, Reichel took on other tasks many builders consider beyond their abilities. He learned how to run the old walking-foot sewing machine in the corner of the shop so he could trim the interior panels that he and Eric Peterson made in the simple way Paul remembered. "That's the third seat cover," he notes. "I just kept making them until they looked good." When the radiator proved too tall after he lowered the grille shell to match the hood, he melted off one of the tanks, cut down the tubes and fins, and soldered it back together. "It was my first time so I had to fill a few pinholes but it does the job."
Judging by the way he acts in the car's presence, Paul couldn't be happier. Beyond the fact that it's a great-looking piece, it reflects the way his first roadster pickup looked in both parts and construction. It has the grille and dash he always wanted. And it also came in on time (within 18 months no less). The last part was particularly critical as Paul retired soon after we shot the car and relocated his homestead some 1,300 miles south/southeast as the story about it took shape.
As for this hot rod being his last, well that remains to be seen. Prescott, Arizona, the burg he and Sallie now call home, is full of all sorts of hot rod experts, among them Jackie Howerton, Bill Vinther, and Don Small. So don't hold your breath, unless of course it's to see what he'll build next.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Paul & Sallie Bos
1929 Ford Roadster pickup
Vern Tardel, magus of the Model A, prepped the frame in the fashion Mike Bishop outlined for their seminal book How to Build a Traditional Ford Hot Rod. He stepped the frame ahead of the rear crossmember, equipped it with V-8 engine mounts, and fortified it with his interpretation of a Deuce K-member. The latter sports a '39 Ford pedal assembly and master cylinder. True to Tardel form, the frame isn't boxed.
Tardel builds chassis to use entirely all Ford parts and this one's no exception. Centering the engine in the bay mounts the K-members far enough from the front crossmember to use an un-split '33-34 wishbone. Pinned to that is a stretched '33-36 axle and a reversed-eye Model A spring. Each end of the axle sports round-boss '37-41 spindles but only the left one has a tubular steering arm that links to an F-1 steering box. As Tardel's method uses the stock Model A rear spring, Paul let him weld the requisite perches to the '40 Ford axle. It spins a 3.78:1 screw. Tube-type dampers keep bounce and sway at bay and '40-48 brakes scrub off speed.
Paul threw a little bit of a curve ball with the wheels. The fronts are '35 Ford, age-old standards that measure 16x3.50. The rears are Deuce, which are identical in spoke count (32) but not in diameter (18 inches). Watts Automotive in Spokane straightened them and they now wear 16x4.50/4.75 and 18x7.00 Firestones. We'll let you figure out where each size fits.
The words "cooling advancements" and "Flathead Ford" seem contradictory but the 8-series engine that Paul chose cools vastly better than earlier models. Dave Swenson machined and assembled it with a stock Ford crank but its 0.060-inch overbore Sealed Power pistons took it from 239 cubes to 248. The later Offenhauser heads Paul chose preserve one of the engine's cooling advantages, a smart choice even if their forward outlets make them less popular. A legacy camshaft, a Winfield SU1A, pops the valves, and the engine breathes through Stromberg 97s on a two-pot Offy manifold. Dustin Reichel built the headers and the pipes between them and the Smithy mufflers.
Paul shifts gears the old way, on a '39 Ford toploader. Jim Rupe in El Cajon, CA, close to Paul's old stomping grounds, freshened it up. Tardel cut down the driveshaft as part of the chassis package deal he made with Paul.
The '28-29 roadster pickup bodies that Last Refuge Hot Rods in Dolores, CO, builds are dimensional copies from the firewall to the back of the doors. The back of the cab looks somewhat stock but the additional 4 inches in it improves comfort and the curved backside helps the looks. Last Refuge then shortens both the front and back of its beds to a curt 40 inches. Reichel mounted the body and bed, redid the firewall and floor pan, and fit the remainder of the skin. Brookville stamped the shaved grille shell but Reichel built the hood between it and the body and louvered it on the shop's Pullmax. For his coup de grâce, he finished the bodywork and shot the black acrylic enamel. Arrow built the sealed beam lights that point forward and the '29 Ford ones that face rearward come from the reproduction market.
After all these years Paul got the one thing he never could: a '40 Ford dash. Reichel fit it to the body. When Paul grabbed the F-1 steering box he also nabbed its attendant column. Atop that is a '40 Ford DeLuxe steering wheel. Reichel and Eric Peterson pitched in to build the plywood seat and side panels. Reichel learned to sew on an old commercial walking-foot machine and trimmed the cockpit in ox-blood-tanned hides made from the seldom-seen Nauga. Jim Deist's belts will keep Paul in the car in the unlikely event of it striking anything.