Tom Pekel has owned hot rods since high school, when he drove a Model A, and 40 years ago became an original member of Cincy Street Rods in Ohio. A while back he ran a ’glass ’33 roadster, had a blast in it for about nine years, but decided to sell it, telling himself he and his wife, Barb, were tired of being cold, or hot, or getting rained on. They bought a nice ’33 Tudor and drove the heck out of it, but started to miss the roadster. For 27 years a very good friend, Ken Reynolds, had owned a ’33 roadster, just what Tom was after. They worked out a deal, and home it came.
He worked on the frame, front and rearend, and trans and got it to a rolling chassis stage where it stopped, started, and steered. While the chassis was at his house, the body was at Wade Hughes Hot Rods for bodywork and paint. One night Tom was at the shop when Hughes asked what color they were going to paint it. Tom wanted dark blue, so Hughes brought out a paint stick and dabbed it on the inside of the decklid. It was too light so they drank a beer and added some black; still too light. Another beer and another try and they had it nailed—all of which explains what the center of the dash means should you see the car at a show.
Not long after this episode, Hughes called and said the body was ready for collection, and asked if Tom could come immediately as he had another car coming in. Tom and Barb were heading on vacation the following day, and asked if they could pick it up it in a week’s time. Hughes said he needed the room, so Tom called another buddy, Matt Reynolds, who knows how to move these kinds of cars, to ask if he’d take the frame to Hughes’ and grab the body. Little did Tom know what Reynolds and Hughes were up to. Not an hour after the Pekels had left for their vacation, Reynolds and Rick Bailey were at their house collecting every part of the roadster, and delivering it to Hughes’ shop, where they assembled the car.
Reynolds and Tom had been discussing for a while how he’d style the car, so he knew what to do. He called Josh Shaw to come over and stripe and number the car, then along with those already mentioned, as well as John Bailey, Erik Murphy, Mark Smith, Dave Mueller, and others Tom admits he’s forgotten, they put it all together.
Finally, Reynolds called the Pekels’ daughter, Allison, who was at college, to see if she wanted to be in on the surprise. Having driven from Florida, Tom and Barb pulled into their driveway in Ohio in 15-degree weather to find about 20 of their friends standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the garage. As they got out of their car, the group separated and there sat the ’33 roadster. Reynolds reached in and fired it up. Tom says, “I’m a big boy and you could have knocked me over with a feather. The first thing I did was get a beer from my daughter and christen the car. Then the garage opened and there were a lot more people with food and drinks! This is truly what hot rodding is about. No one told them to do it, they just did it. I just don’t know if I can afford the amount of beer needed to thank all those involved!”
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1933 Ford Roadster
The foundation of the roadster is a boxed original Ford chassis, with Pete & Jakes hairpins and a Chassis Engineering 4-inch dropped I-beam. A Posies spring helps with the low ride height, while items from the GM parts bin include a Vega steering box and ’72 Chevy II disc brakes on Ford spindles.
A GM Goodwrench 350 keeps things nice and reliable under the hood, the crate motor still wearing the valve covers it came with, in addition to a ’58 Chevy intake manifold and two-barrel carburetor. An old Ford hubcap is used as an air cleaner top. Flowmaster mufflers in a 2 1/2-inch system quiet things slightly, with a Walker radiator keeping engine temperatures down. There’s a TH350 and custom driveshaft between the engine and a ’66 Chevy II rearend, suspended on Chassis Engineering parallel leaf springs.
Wheels & Tires
Cream steel wheels with caps ’n’ rings offset the blue body, 15x4.5 up front and 16x6.5 out back, cloaked in Coker Classic rubber, 145/15 and 750/16, respectively.
Body & Paint
“Two-Beer Blue” covers the stock Henry Ford sheetmetal, applied by Wade Hughes using PPG materials. Guide headlights lead the way, while Tom peers over a steel ’40 Ford dash and through a 5-inch chopped windshield that was modified back in the ’60s.
An EZ Wiring harness connects all the electrical components together, while Stewart-Warner gauges, a ’39 steering wheel, and ’40 column make up the business section of the cockpit. A blanket-covered bench seat from a van and black carpet make up the only “upholstery” in the car, but that just means there’s less to get wet, right?