From the outset, Bill knew he wanted a Flathead engine. “I knew I had to have a Merc crank. I hate to buy on eBay, but when I spotted an auction for a Flathead and trans, the ad stating it maybe had a Merc crank, just an hour from my home, I took a chance. Sure enough, for $125, I got the crank I wanted, with a good block and a trans. For a novice, I was lucky, as the block was perfect, with not a single crack! I already knew Bill Jagenow at Brothers Custom Automotive, in Troy, Michigan, was going to build the engine, and the look on his face when he took the pan off and verified it was a 4-inch crank, and heard what I’d paid, was worth the money alone! Needless to say, the engine turned out great, and Bill used it for displays while we started building the coupe. I’m an electrician by trade, so the engine had to be painted copper!
“I knew I wanted an original steel car, which left a Model A coupe as my only affordable option. A Craigslist ad posted in upper Minnesota turned up a tired but running driving survivor. It had belonged to an old man who’d died. I shipped it home, and despite it being an awful flesh color, drove my kids around in it for a summer before tearing it apart.” Again, Bill had a lucky break, as the body required only two small patch panels to rectify a couple of rust-affected areas. Selling the stock chassis and drivetrain provided some funds toward the new ’32 frame and frontend assembly, sourced from Riley Automotive. He built up the rolling chassis, adding a quick-change centersection found at a garage sale to the ’39 Ford rearend, then delivered the body and frame to Brothers Custom Automotive. “They did a great job of putting the car together and giving it some real ‘spirit’.”
Obviously you’ll see from the pictures that the coupe is still lacking a roof insert and upholstery, as well as paint, but the end is in sight and Bill can’t wait to drive it. We just couldn’t resist showing it to you in bare metal before it gets blown apart for a final time!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Green Bay, Wisconsin
1931 Model A coupe
Using JW Rod Garage ’rails, Rob Paul fabricated his own boxed frame, using Model A crossmembers front and rear, with the latter pushed forward 1 1/2 inches, and a 1 3/4-inch tubular center X-member. A 4-inch dropped Chassis Engineering axle is centered with a ’40 split wishbone and ’46 spindles and brakes, while F-1 shock mounts sourced from a local bone yard were bent to fit.
A 354ci Hemi mates to a 700-R4 trans. The engine was bored 0.030-over and rebuilt with an Isky cam, Cragar 4x2 intake, and Stromberg 97s with 41 jets and a straight linkage. Automotive Specialties in Neenah, WI, did the machinework, and Rob rebuilt the 97s and dialed everything in. Out back a ’40 Ford banjo axle received a Winters quick-change centersection, and was hung on Pete & Jakes ladder bars and a Model A spring.
Wheels & Tires
The ’40 Ford 16-inch steel wheels are used all around, 4 inches wide in front and 4 1/2 in back, and 7.50x16 Firestone bias-plies follow 5.50 Firestone ribbed fronts.
Body & Paint
Rob butt-welded patch panels around the entire bottom of the body, made a new floor, and placed it on new subrails. He sliced 6 inches from the roof pillars and added new driprails of his own manufacture. A sectioned Vintique ’32 grille and insert sits between BLC headlights on a modified Model A headlight bar. There’s no hood but there is a Tanks Inc. 16-gallon gas tank hidden inside the body. Don Webster ensured the body and frame were straight enough to receive single-stage black paint.