Most people think this five-window coupe is a ’32 at first glance, so you’re not alone if that’s what you immediately thought as well. While that may not have been the exact intention of owner Walt Jones when he set out to modify a Model A that single, subtle yet time-consuming modification has onlookers guessing everywhere he takes the coupe. Of course the fact that it sits on a ’32 frame, uses a ’32 grille and Deuce-style louvered hood sides, and has a ’32 gas tank between the rear framehorns only add to the illusion. But it’s the modifications to the windshield and A-posts that really transform this humble Model A.
Often referred to as “the poor man’s ’32”, the ’30-31 Model A was the first year Henry dispensed with the separate cowl, which gave the later Model T coupe and the ’28-29 A their distinctive character. The transition to the ’32 is obvious in hindsight, hence the unfair nickname. Jones had always wanted to change the appearance of a Model A in this way, so when a cherry example presented itself, he bit the bullet.
Purchased from the second owner, it was in excellent condition and required no bodywork other than a new decklid skin. Then Walt went to work, removing the visor, filling the roof insert, and leaning the A-pillar back by 8 degrees, as well as the corresponding sections of the doors, radiusing their top corners while he was at it. That was the easy part. As he says, “The hardest part about filling the area above the windshield was finding a panel that was flat on the front with a slight curvature on top. I ended up using a section from a Plymouth decklid.”
The front corners of the roof were hand-formed, as were the driprails. The windshield frame was then scratch-built, and consumed somewhere between 60 and 80 hours. Walt admits, “If I did it again, I’d buy a ’32 windshield frame and fit the body to it!” Though he credits Don Broyles for technical support, Walt was modest about the understated yet radical modification, something that looks so easy yet conversely is a hard trick to pull off successfully. Apparently, after the roof was done, “the car came together nicely.”
Indeed it did, thanks to a well thought out ’32 frame that leaves no components hanging below the ’rails, apart from the transmission pan that is. You don’t even see the exhausts until they exit below the rear framehorns. Very traditional in appearance, down to bias-ply tires on early Ford 16-inch wheels, buggy springs, and drum brakes, you’d probably bet on a four-banger, Flathead, or an early small-block Chevy under the three-piece hood, right? Guess again, as this Ford is Ford-powered, but it’s an ’89 303ci roller cam motor backed by an AOD trans, making for a great driver. And it does get driven, making weekly trips from Dayton, Ohio, to Columbus since completion, no doubt confusing even those in the know as to just exactly what passed them!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1930 Model A Coupe
Walt Jones put together the ’32 chassis himself, adding a Brookville Model A front crossmember to bring the front down, along with a genuine ’32 axle that was dropped 4 inches. It retains the stock buggy springs front and rear, though the spindles and steering box are from a ’37-41 Ford. A set of early F-250 brake drums were pressed into service on the frontend, which is located on hairpin radius rods.
The Frank Weiss machined and built ’89 small-block Ford engine displaces 303 ci, and uses Mustang pistons, a COMP camshaft, Edelbrock inlet, and 650-cfm carburetor. The Ford ignition was retained, with a set of Mustang headers leading to the glasspack-equipped exhaust system. While a painted and chromed Olds air cleaner shows a traditional face to the world when the hood is opened, there are also finned aluminum rocker covers and a Cobra oil pan. The package produces 225 hp, plenty enough to ensure the light coupe scoots, and coupled with an AOD trans and stock converter, highway miles are painless. Walt had Mike Pieron assemble an 8-inch Ford rearend with 3.2:1 gears.
Wheels & Tires
Those cream-colored steelies are early Ford 16-inch items, 4 1/2 inches wide at the skinny end, with 5-inchers putting the power down. Firestone 450-16 and 700-16 bias-ply rubber is fitted front and rear respectively, and ’46-47 Canadian Mercury hubcaps provide a unique look.
Body & Paint
This coupe’s ’32 appearance is due to the modifications to the windshield aperture, and the 8-degree laid-back A-posts. The front corners of the doors were radiused at the top, and new driprails fabricated. The enterprising owner then built his own windshield frame but confesses starting with a ’32 item might have been easier! With all the welding completed, Walt tackled the bodywork himself. He admits the body was already in excellent condition, needing just a decklid skin before turning it over to Mike Houston to lay on the Manitou red shade, complemented by a black chassis and ’32 gas tank.
A Model A interior is pretty basic and spartan, but Dennis and Shane Gamble were called upon to cover the original seat in beige UltraVinyl, adding burgundy carpet to match the paint. Gauges from a ’53 Olds relay the necessary information, while an antique boat supplied the steering wheel.