It’s impossible to talk about Modifieds without delving into the background of this style of hot rod. Though nowadays we refer to roadsters such as this ’27 T belonging to Bill Strecky as a Modified, that classification historically refers to a single-seat, one-man roadster with a narrowed body, abbreviated in the rear. Such roadsters were popular amongst the dry lakes and Bonneville racers before World War II, as evidenced by the number of them shown in books, such as Don Montgomery’s invaluable series.
However, whether owing to the availability of war surplus “belly tanks”, which made excellent streamliner bodies, or because of the move to stock ’27 T roadster bodies in the roadster classes, the Modified’s popularity waned, and with Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) rule changes for 1947, the Modified class disappeared. Incidentally, this means that Karl Orr’s ’42 Modified record of 133.03 mph remains unbeaten to this day! Though Modifieds disappeared from lakes racing in 1947, the style is enjoying a resurgence today, albeit usually without the narrowed body and with two seats. That’s not to say one-man Modifieds aren’t around; probably the most well-known street-driven version is Bo Jones’ narrowed T, featured in this very tome in 1968!
Bill Strecky owns a number of other cars, but when he laid eyes on this Modified at the Frog Follies show in Indiana in 2010, it was “love at first sight”, as he says. “The work on the car is perfect and very clean in its lines. I got talking to the owner, Dustin Colclasure, who said he was going to sell the car as he planned to get married. At that point I knew I had to have the car.” Turns out Colclasure was the second owner, purchasing it from its builder, Curtis Albertie, from Michigan.
Albertie certainly got the proportions right, placing a Strand ’glass ’27 T-tub—the last one out of the mold—on a custom box section frame with a 96-inch wheelbase, the front axle hanging out in the breeze on quarter-elliptic leaf springs. Under the custom aluminum hood he mounted a ’90 Chevy Vortec V-6, which according to Bill sounds great through those ceramic-coated lakes headers feeding 4-inch pipes incorporating Harley-Davidson mufflers.
Though Bill drives the Modified to shows locally, he usually trailers it to shows farther away, as there’s not exactly a lot of room for luggage within the confines of the body! He wouldn’t change a thing though, and cites the first time he pulled up at his local club lunchtime meet (the FBI: Fat Boys of Illinois) as one of his most memorable experiences with the car. Apparently the guys went wild when they saw it. That seems to be a recurring theme too, as he reports that he gets a lot of smiles and thumbs up whenever he takes it out. Ain’t that what it’s all about?
A custom-fabricated box section chassis with a Model A rear crossmember forms the foundation of the Modified, with a dropped ’n’ drilled I-beam mounted on Posies quarter-elliptic springs. Handmade friction shocks keep things riding smoothly, with a Vega steering box turning the ’37 Ford spindles. Mounted on these are ’39 Lincoln brakes with ’40 Ford drums, operated by a Kugel Komponents pedal assembly and Corvette master cylinder. The 54-inch hairpins are located on the frontend, while Bill added a steering damper.
Not your everyday choice for a hot rod powerplant for sure, there’s a ’90 4.3L Chevy Vortec V-6 crate motor behind the sectioned ’32 grille shell, mated to a TH350. An Edelbrock carb and intake are the only additions to the otherwise stock engine with Mallory ignition. Those eye-catching custom lakes headers and exhausts with built-in Harley mufflers ensure the V-6 sounds sweet. An extremely short, 6-inch driveshaft connects to a Mopar rearend, mounted on another pair of hairpins and a chromed Posies spring, with SO-CAL Speed Shop tube shocks. The ’40 Ford brakes were adapted to the axle to facilitate running the wire wheels all round.
A quartet of ’35 Ford wires wrapped in Firestone rubber provide a period look, the rubber rake coming courtesy of 16x6 tires in front and 16x7.50s in the rear. The wires were painted cream to match the gas tank, with a little red pinstriping.
The Strand fiberglass body had a louvered metal panel let into the rear, before Doug’s Bodyshop in Coopersville, MI, laid on the Jaguar Green hue, also covering the one-off aluminum hood and sectioned ’32 grille shell. That gas tank is a ’25 Ford item, turned on its side and fitted with a custom filler neck. Model A headlights lead the way with a single ’32 light above the tank in the rear. A custom, aluminum-stanchioned windshield keeps most of the bugs out of Bill’s teeth.
There are a number of one-off components in the diminutive interior, namely the aluminum steering column shroud, with a Bell four-spoke wheel, the aluminum dash insert, the wiring harness, and even the seat, which was covered in green Naugahyde by A-Skinz in Grand Rapids, MI. Black tight weave carpet contrasts with the green upholstery, and there’s a single rearview mirror mounted to the glass.