Nick Kallos’ ’29 on Deuce ’rails first came to our attention when we walked out onto the floor at the Grand National Roadster Show earlier this year to check out the contenders for the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) title. For the first time in years that list contained at least three owner-built cars, at least that we know of. We’ve already brought you the “Takeout T” from that bunch. Note we didn’t say homebuilt cars, as Nick was given the opportunity to put his A together on the floor of SO-CAL Speed Shop Las Vegas, in full view of customers.
As Nick says, “For 30 years I’ve dreamt of competing in the GNRS as an AMBR contender, with a simple, cool car, put together not by some ‘name’ rod shop, but by me and some of my friends in the back of a speed shop.” That dream was specific about the color, stance, and old-school look, too. “The color was easy; ’50 Chrysler Haze Blue,” Nick says. “My dad had one on the farm when I was 12, and that was all he’d let me practice buffing on. I just love the color.
“I’ve always wanted a ’29 on Deuce ’rails, so when I couldn’t find one I liked, I decided to build one using a Brookville body. SO-CAL Speed Shop has always been my choice for frames. Building this car on the floor at SO-CAL Las Vegas was a neat experience. Not only did I have access to parts, but Lenny and his staff were on hand to help with heavy lifting or whenever I needed another pair of hands. The customers loved watching it grow from a bare frame into the finished roadster too!”
Ideally, Nick says he’d have liked a Flathead in the roadster, but “with the economy what it is, the $15,000 Flathead I wanted had to wait! I had an original triple-deuce carb setup for a small-block Chevy in a wooden box for five years, so that dictated the engine I used instead of the Flatty.” That engine may be a hot rodding staple, but Nick went to great lengths to use different parts on the roadster, without going overboard. “I like to incorporate unique parts, no matter where you look,” he says. Take the rear light for example; a ’49 Plymouth woodie item that is incorporated into the rear door trim from that model. “It was bulky but very retro-looking, and I love Art Deco. I have as many hours in that piece as any other, but it was worth it.” Likewise, the exhaust tailpipes are different, exiting through the extended rear pan in fabricated rings. “Exhausts are always important,” Kallos continues. “On both cars I’ve built from scratch I’ve used V-bands on the exhausts, with no parts hanging below the framerails.”
You probably noticed that there’s not a whole lot of chrome on this roadster. Instead, much of the brightwork is powdercoated. For one, Nick prefers the look to chrome, plus again it’s a little different, and secondly, given that the car has been driven every day since leaving the Roadster Show, and Nick has plans to use it for a number of long trips, it’ll stand up to road miles better than chrome.
Speaking of the GNRS, how was that experience for Nick? “It is something I can tick off my bucket list after 30 years, and I achieved all my goals there. I met some great people.” Sounds like there’s one man who’s definitely livin’ the dream…
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Las Vegas, Neveda
1929 Model A Roadster
Seeing as Nick Kallos built the roadster in full customer view at SO-CAL Speed Shop in his hometown of Las Vegas, it would have been rude to use anything but a SO-CAL ’32 frame! This one’s been pinched 2 inches at the cowl to follow the lines of the Model A body. It incorporates tubular center and rear crossmembers, while Nick modified the front of the framehorns to wrap around the chromed spreader bar. More SO-CAL products include the 4-inch dropped I-beam, spindles, shocks, Panhard bar, pedal assembly, and front brakes, the latter being discs hidden inside fake drums, though unlike most, these drums are not polished but feature an as-cast finish (you get the feeling working so close to all those parts on the shelves might have been useful?). All the chassis plumbing is stainless steel with the one-off fuel tank mounted behind the seat, fabricated by Mondo and Victor of the Nevada Scorpions.
An ’09 350 Chevy powers the roadster, sourced from GM Performance Parts. The 8.5:1 engine runs iron heads, with fuel supplied by a trio of Rochester carbs atop an Offenhauser 3x2 intake. Edmunds air cleaners with K&N filters top it all off. Original finned Vette valve covers keep things nostalgic, while an MSD ignition and Taylor plug wires ensure it runs perfectly. The custom headers are Jet Hot coated, pushing the gases through a one-off exhaust system made from mandrel U-bends, incorporating MagnaFlow mufflers. A Walker radiator keeps it all cool in the Las Vegas desert temperatures. Performance Plus assembled the TH350 with a shift kit, from where an aluminum driveshaft feeds a Currie Enterprises 9-inch rearend with a 3.50:1 ratio differential. Ladder bars, a Panhard rod, and transverse spring from SO-CAL Speed Shop keep everything in place.
Wheels & Tires
There’s a 16-inch Wheel Vintiques wire wheel at each corner of the roadster, painted off-white to match the firewall, and wrapped in Firestone rubber, 16x6 ribbed fronts and 16x8.90 dirt track rears. Stainless V-8 caps are all the dress-up they need.
Body & Paint
Starting with a new Brookville roadster body, Nick extended the rear panel to make room for the exhausts to exit through it, C-notched the rear wheelwells, channeled the floor, and formed a new firewall, using half of a differential floor cover to form the distributor recess. The other half was used at the rear of the trans cover. The Deuce grille was trimmed and lowered and the framehorns modified to wrap around the spreader bar. Mondo and Victor prepped the body before Wray Heffelfinger sprayed the PPG Chrysler Haze Blue. Lenny Ribaudo then added pinstriping. A rear light/tailgate handle from a ’49 Plymouth woodie was added, while a violin maker friend formed the intricately curved wood around the rear of the cockpit from a single piece.
The centerpiece of the interior is the ’40 Ford dash, which was actually easy to fit once the corners were pie-cut. A 15-inch SO-CAL four-spoke steering wheel is bolted to a Mullins column. An aftermarket seat frame was modified then covered in light oak colored Corinthian Endura vinyl by ABC Upholstery in Las Vegas, complemented by Mercedes Coco Brown carpet. Nick installed a Haywire wiring harness, added custom seatbelts, and hid the battery behind the seat along next to gas tank.