The “new” drivetrain starts with a ’48 Flathead, built as close to original specs as possible by Art Chrisman. Oddly enough, while the Hop Up feature states the 59A was equipped with Edelbrock heads and a Weiand 4x2 intake, from the one detail shot of the engine it appears the heads are Weiands and the intake a triple deuce. Be that as it may (or may not), Chrisman topped the Tony Baron–machined Merc block with a set of polished Navarro heads. And once again, a Weiand intake was used, however, this time recreation more closely mimicked the old printed lore—four Stromberg 81s rather than a trio of 97s. The motor also features Arias pistons, an Isky 404 Jr. cam, Vertex mag (redone by Joe Hunt), and Belond chromed headers.
For the transmission, Kerry enlisted Brian Higgins of S&K Speed on the East Coast to prepare a ’39 Toploader with Zephyr gears and the same truck flywheel/clutch setup found in the original car. A ’34 torque tube connects the old Halibrand quick-change to the gearbox, while a forward-mounted ’40 Ford spring and tube shocks hang the rearend from the chassis. Supporting those same ’rails up front are an undropped but drilled, transverse-sprung ’34 I-beam bouncing off inboard-mounted Houdaille shocks while being located by tubular radius rods. Steering is still controlled by a modified Franklin box—with the draglink hidden discretely beneath the shapely nose piece. Rolling stock is similar 7.50-16 Firestone Indy tires front and rear, mounted on chromed ’40 Ford steelies re-hooped by Stockton Wheel.
As mentioned, the 1952 crash caused quite a bit of damage to the car, namely to the ’27 T rear section, as you can see by the shot of Kerry standing with the crumpled mess (as well as the framework for the nose, the condition of which indicating that the front half of the car fared much better). That said, the main restoration would be no easy task, a job Kerry relied on Springfield, Ohio’s Classic Craft Motorsports to handle appropriately. It helped greatly that they had decent reference material: outtakes and some of the actual photographs used in the Hop Up article that Don Orosco had previously acquired from the late Dean Batchelor—who, coincidentally was the editor at the time the original feature was published, and though no byline was listed, is said to have written the feature in the first place. From the “slip-on” hand-shaped nose (with its aluminum Sprint car–style grille piece) to the intricate, three-piece full-length belly pan—all gloriously covered in glass-like black paint—Hagemann’s original work of art was indeed brought back to life. But it doesn’t stop at the exterior body panels, not by a long shot.
Kerry admits it took just as much in-depth research and photo-referencing to re-emulate the roadster’s interior—right down to the original “C-O-Two” fire extinguisher and correct-era military aircraft seatbelts. While the confines may be a bit spiffier now, the cockpit’s early traits are all present, including the Sun tach/Stewart-Warner gauges, fuel pressure pump, and ’40 Ford steering with a Little Bo Peep style shifter swooping gracefully below.
Given its lack of historical reference—and, for the most part, significance—it’s a wonder the Dal Porto Lakester still exists. But exist it does, and thanks to Kerry Horan, it does so in all its former glory … and then some.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Menlo Park, California
1927 Model T Lakester