Rod & Custom Feature Car
Steve Andersen
Minneapolis, Minnesota
1927 Ford Model T Modified

It’s an old story; people become addicted and they are pursued by their habit for the rest of their lives. Steve Andersen is just such a man. Bitten hard by the hot rod bug as a teenager, his habit has not only stayed with him but has become bigger with the years. Steve has an insatiable and uncontrollable appetite for hot rods, drag racing, nitro, and just plain old going fast.

Starting out with the usual jalopy style in the late ’50s and early ’60s led him straight to the racetrack where he participated with gas dragsters at first but quickly graduated to that most seductive of all chemicals: nitro-methane racing fuel. Steve’s car career was temporarily interrupted by a little inconvenience remembered as the Vietnam War. Upon returning to the States his old vices caught up with him, and after establishing a successful career in the world of fine art (he was and is a fine art printmaker,) the siren song of racing called him to the track, the shops, and the nitro.

Steve eventually became interested in building a show car and put together a Deuce coupe that was the car that inspired the creation of the Pro Street class. It was those big fat tires that threw the judges into a tailspin. Steve’s next big project was the near legendary “Frankenstude”, a Studebaker that set the tone for the modern custom car. That purple monster is known to almost every hot rod and custom enthusiast in the world. Enthusiasts still collect the Frankenstude Revell models (when they can find them), and many examples of the Frankenstude clothing line are still proudly worn at car events everywhere, from Salinas to Tokyo.

Although ol’ Frank was a tough act to follow, Steve’s next effort was another magazine cover car known as the “ Medeusa”. This 600hp five-window struck terror into the hearts of street warriors not unlike the mythic namesake with the hair of snakes struck into the hearts of the warriors who fought against her. Brutally fast, with a unique flame job applied by Chip Foose, the Medeusa enjoys a wide following in Midwest hot rod circles.

By the way, along with all of this street action, Steve has restored some vintage dragsters, including a club (Gopher State Timing Association,) project; a Fuel cackle car—the guy is an addict!

All of this background has brought Steve back to his nostalgic roots. His latest hot rod effort is a very traditional lakes-style Model T roadster. When Steve found the car it was powered by a ’30 Ford four-banger with a Winfield aluminum head and a downdraft manifold sporting a converted Stromberg 97. While waxing rich in nostalgia, the little T just did not run well or go quickly. For once, Steve decided to practice a little restraint and opted for a healthy Flathead instead of something more modern and dangerous, despite being the danger-loving fool that he already is.

Steve’s many abilities include an uncannily accurate perception for talent. As an example, he discovered a hot rod builder up in the unlikely little town of Rogers, Minnesota, named Bo Vescio. Vescio, proprietor of Vescio’s Customizing, has built two of Steve’s cars. First he did the Medeusa, and more recently the lakes roadster project. Vescio and his crew tore the car apart and basically built it anew. The roadster, purchased in California, really needed a lot of mechanical improvement. Billed as a driver upon purchase, a “non driver” would have been a more accurate characterization. Vescio and Steve put their design hats on in a combined effort to keep the vintage flavor of the car and make it into something usable. Steve Andersen cites Blackie Gejeian’s AMBR-winning roadster as his primary source of inspiration.

The black roadster shouts tradition in every aspect of design and execution. Starting with a 2x3-inch steel tube frame, Vescio and Steve kept it in the air with a perforated 5-inch-drop Super Bell front axle up front and early Ford rear axlehousings bolted around a Rodsville quick-change. The rear spring is a Model A and the front springs are aftermarket quarter elliptics. The steering package is all salvaged from a vintage sprint car. The shocks on all four corners come from a somewhat unlikely source, an MG Midget! That is an example of the old-school spirit of building a car from used parts that were discoverable; junkyard creativity at its finest. Early Ford drum brakes on all four corners provide the stopping power. The Firestone Indy-inspired tires, 500-15 ribs up front and 820-15 dirt trackers in the rear, surround Coker chrome wires. The 249ci ’48 Merc Flathead connects to the quickie through a GM T-5 tranny and a custom-made steel driveshaft. The machine work was performed by Northern Cylinder Head in Andover, Minnesota, while the engine assembly was performed by Rick Schnell, who holds fort in nearby Anoka, Minnesota. An Isky 88 cam, 320 lift, and 264-degree duration, keeps the thing breathing as Offenhauser aluminum heads and intake manifold perch proudly atop the finished block. Three Stromberg 97s feed the thirsty motor and look flat-out cool. The ignition system is Mallory and connects fire to fuel through Taylor wires. Owner-assembled exhaust headers started life as a Speedway kit.

The House of Kolor black, silver, and clear finish on the ’glass body and custom-made steel hood was applied by Vescio himself and embellished with truly superior traditional pinstriping by brush master Lenni Schwartz. Final finishing touches in chrome were done at J&D Plating in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Pilot and passenger monitor vitals by perusing the complement of Auto Meter instruments. Seating comfort is provided by distressed tan Naugahyde on a custom-made bench and a black wool carpet interfaces between the feet and floor. The covering was done by Premier Upholstery of Rogers, Minnesota. The final construction credit goes to Joe Schneider from Xtreme Rod & Custom for his wizardry on wiring the car from scratch.

The question here is, after all of the automotive successes achieved by Steve and his well-chosen cohorts is, “What will this guy come up with next?” Well, as a matter of fact, he is working with famed race car builder Tom Hanna to recreate Tom Hoover’s famous Top Fueler, “The Fishbowl Car”. Stay tuned to your local cacklefest for further developments.

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