It sounds a bit misleading to say that Amocat Speed Emporium’s Steve Glucoft and Josh Higgins pushed the boundaries. The term implies progress but the roadster they built—this ’29 Ford—is anything but modern. In fact it’s about as antiquated as a car can get and still be called a hot rod.
But it is a radical departure from convention. Most historically themed hot rods built today reflect post-war sensibilities. This one, on the other hand, faithfully adheres to principles established before World War II, using only parts available, and more importantly popular, from that period.
The four years between those eras don’t seem like they would make that big of a difference but they do. Prior to Tojo’s tour of Pearl Harbor, things like 24-stud engines and hydraulic brakes were new-car parts. The same goes for speed equipment; prior to the war brands were few and examples uncommon and expensive. So to build a car to reflect pre-war style means working with parts that are incredibly obsolete, rare, or both.
And that may well be the easy part. Probably the greatest obstacle to build a pre-war-style car is references. Surviving enthusiasts are rare and their intact memories more so. Not even the industry’s default reference, Hot Rod magazine, can help; it started three years after VJ Day. Throttle magazine existed prior to the war but only for about a year and only as a journalistic format rather than a technical one. Even photos are hard to come by; among others Al Drake and Don Montgomery have published several titles with pre-war photos, but both admit examples are exceedingly rare.
Higgins began by modifying the car in the most historically faithful way, by updating it with parts from newer models. He replaced the entire front suspension with a ’32 Ford assembly for several reasons, among them its more massive axle lowers a Model A just a smidge (remember, dropped axles are largely a post-war thing).
But stance wasn’t only what he was shooting for. The V-8 running gear Glucoft and Higgins decided upon called for a later transmission, which of course eliminated the pedal assembly and required a crossmember of its own. Higgins solved both problems by modifying a ’32 K-member and grafting it to the frame. That’s where the Deuce suspension really proved its merit.
As it links the front axle to the K-member, a Ford’s wishbone dictates the drivetrain’s location. By using the ’33-34 wishbone, for example, the engine centers in the engine bay. But the ’32 wishbone pushes the drivetrain back. It crowds the firewall but it also increases the room for larger, pre-war distributors, like the one on this car. But more importantly, especially for a teenager with few resources at the end of the Great Depression, when using a Deuce wishbone the distance between a ’32-48 Ford transmission and a Model A rear axle ends up exactly the same as a Model A driveshaft.
Higgins used a ’39 transmission for its synchronizers; however, to make it look more of the part he replaced its telltale shifter with one from a ’36-37 gearbox. The ’37 engine bolted to it is plausible for its age and desirable for its insert bearings. This one wears earlier alloy heads with integral water pumps and the retrofit plates that Ford offered to seal the block’s pump bosses. A clean-up bore aside, the engine’s displacement remains the same. The heads, on the other hand, have been milled to increase compression ratio, a requirement in light of the increased valve timing the Winfield SU1-A cam offers.