Nice Model A coupe, huh? OK, we know it's a 1933 Ford roadster-but it started life as a coupe-so maybe we should explain. Dana Harvey bought his wife, Melanie, a '31 Model A coupe for their third wedding anniversary, but somewhat shoddy workmanship and a blown tire saw her lose control on the freeway and hit a truck. She walked away, but the coupe wasn't so lucky. Dana happened to be selling some parts at the Pomona Swap Meet not long after when a '33 roadster project caught his eye, and subsequently caught a sizeable chunk of the Model A insurance settlement too. What was left was used to pay for the roadster to be towed home. "My wife was a little mad but I told her she'd be much happier with this car," Dana says. Though we suspect he had a soft spot for '33-34 roadsters all along! The project was a roller, with the body sitting on the frame, no grille or engine.
The firewall had been replaced with an aftermarket item to fit a small-block Chevy. Dana rolled it into his garage and spent the next couple of years collecting parts. A repairable '34 grille was found at the same swap meet; the gauges and numerous other parts were sourced on eBay, and the E&J headlights were traded with a friend for a military oil tank that Dana knew he was after. "The only things I'd trade that tank for were those headlights," he says. "I'd never be able to afford to buy them!
"Once I'd accumulated all the parts I'd wanted for my dream car, I went to see Jimmy White at Circle City Hot Rods (CCHR). I've always liked his style of build and had driven several of the cars he'd built. They rode very smoothly and this was very important to me. I was really excited to work with Jimmy; he had great ideas that were right on track with what I wanted."
Originally White was contracted to just set up the chassis and build a roller, but once this stage was reached, they decided to have the body blasted to see exactly what shape it was in. "It was like Coyote Ugly," Dana says. "She looked good when we were drunk, but the next morning, not so much!" According to White, he'd never seen a body with so much bondo in it.
At this point the project was a challenge, but Dana reasoned that they'd come this far, so the decision was made to leave the car at Circle City until it was finished. A replacement pair of roadster doors was sourced, but when they were fitted, they were too long. "It was here we realized the roadster had originally been a coupe, which explained the roadster dash having extra steel welded to the top and sides to make it fit," Dana says.
Jesus Salas and the talented CCHR crew fabricated a new decklid skin and new doorskins, as White built inner door structures, moving the hinges to the top and bottom of the doors while he was at it. He also fabbed new rear wheelwells, including the neat recesses for the taillights between the chassis and rear pan, and cut a stock firewall apart and then modified it so it was recessed but wouldn't appear so. The '40 Ford dash was grafted into the body and blended into the reworked door tops to appear as if it had always lived there. There's an amazing amount of remedial metalwork in this body, which I can personally vouch for as I witnessed it coming together, and even more unbelievable leadwork to make it all appear factory. The fact that it's always being mistaken for a 'glass body is actually a compliment to the CCHR team's artistry.
Work progressed on the roadster when parts and funds became available, which explains the four-year build time. As Dana explains, "Jimmy was very meticulous and wouldn't cut corners where I would have done. Everything on the car was either rebuilt or replaced, and even when we thought we didn't have to rebuild something it turned out that we did!"