Everyone loves a fast street car, right? So, how about a 10-second, blown Model A coupe that wears piecrust slicks on a permanent basis? (Not that we’d condone the use of such tires on the street. Ahem ...) Not only can David Webber’s coupe claim such bragging rights, but it’s his first hot rod too! We’ve spotted this coupe at the Lonestar Round Up on previous occasions, and something about its no-nonsense persona told us it was more than just a fairgrounds cruiser. But it wasn’t until this year that we got to meet David and his wife, Laura, and get the lowdown on what has been dubbed “The Austin Mangler”, thanks to a monster illustration of the car by Jeff Norwell.
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, David was drawn to trains and airplanes as a kid, then hot rods as a teenager, but never really thought he’d own one, let alone build one. When he decided to bite the bullet, he knew it would have to be, in his words, “loud, fast, aggressive, and violent!” The plan was to acquire a Model A coupe body, purchase a rolling Deuce frame, and build a driveline for it. Friends in the Thunderbolts Car Club convinced him that buying a rolling chassis was silly, as they’d be more than happy to help him build his own in trade for beer and barbecue. David acknowledges that Billy Merkford and Eric Bachmeyer, as well as Reggie Hill from the Kontinentals Car Club, were instrumental in his coupe’s existence, and without their guidance and hard work it wouldn’t exist. So, with a pair of ASC ’rails and a bunch of steel tubing ordered, they thrashed out a custom chassis. David got the stance he was after, a hybrid combining a low and aggressive stance, but still a highboy.
The body was acquired from a local restorer, who was swapping it for a roadster body, and once it was on the new chassis, David decided the old lacquer paint was in decent shape. That meant if body and paintwork weren’t required, he had a few months to get the car driveable for the Lonestar Round Up. All he had to do was “build a nasty mill for it”, as he put it. After a lot of research on Roots-type blowers, he did just that, building “as much motor as my budget would allow”, and made the Round Up deadline seven months later. The first week with the car on the road didn’t just bring the fun of that show though, as with his mother in the car for a ride around the block, a cop spied him performing what he refers to as a “mild clutch drop”, for which he was arrested and spent the night in jail. Friends bailed the car out of impound while family bailed him out of jail—the coupe making it home first!
After running mid to low 11s at 123 mph at Little River Dragway—where the sunvisor ripped out of the rotten original header bow and Jimmy White of Circle City Hot Rods, who was attending the event, offered to take it back to California and dimple-die a series of holes in it—David set himself a new goal: to run a 10-second quarter on buggy springs in a street car. This involved a trans rebuild, upgraded engine block and internals, a rollbar and stiffening of the ladder bars, and a pair of racing seats to replace the 96-pound original bench! Granny shifting the car to 10.90 passes, David grenaded the stock-cased 9-inch rearend, but had achieved his goal! With a new set of 3.50:1 gears in back, the coupe has been retired from the strip for now, but gets used every chance the Webbers get, so long as it’s not raining or 100 degrees outside. It’s completed four 600-mile round trips to Denton, Texas, and multiple trips to Kerrville for the Barons Car Club–sponsored Blindfold Death Race, where it’s taken First Place. That’s 600 hp, on grass, on slicks, through a 50-yard slalom course, blindfold, with his wife shouting directions, in under 10 seconds. Yep, the Webbers know how to have fun in their hot rod. We’re just glad David switched from his childhood fascination with airplanes; he’s crazy enough on the ground!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
David & Laura Webber
1931 Model A Coupe
A pair of ASC ’rails form the basis of the chassis, pinched at the firewall, widened in the door area, and with a longitudinal piecut to allow the A-body to sit better on the frame. It has a 1-inch-dropped front crossmember and a 7-inch kickup in the rear, is fully boxed, and features a rectangular tube center crossmember. A Posies spring and SO-CAL Speed Shop hairpins support a Super Bell dropped ’n’ drilled I-beam and Speedway Motors ’40 Ford spindles, which in turn mount Airheart disc brakes. A Flaming River steering box hooks to a LimeWorks column.
The latest incarnation of the powerplant is based on a Dart “little m” 355ci block, with machinework by Jack Hodgeson at Precision Machine in Waco, TX. David assembled the engine himself, using Eagle forged pistons, Scat I-beam rods, SRP/Total Seal gap-less rings, and a Schneider custom-grind solid flat tappet cam. “I called Schneider Cams and told them what kind of car and engine combo I was building, and they said, ‘We know just the thing.’ Boy, did they!” With Brodix RR200 aluminum heads, the 8.5:1 compression ratio of the balanced engine is perfect for the Dyers 6-71 GMC-style blower, mounted on a same-make intake, and fed by two Demon 750 blower-spec carbs. Ancillaries include Offenhauser valve covers, Milodon oil pan and timing cover, a custom low-mount alternator bracket, which now operates in reverse rotation, MSD 6AL ignition and wires, and Stahl dragster headers, cut down, re-welded, and run un-muffled. Ron Davis fabricated the aluminum radiator. A Richmond five-speed trans (yeah, this puppy has three pedals!) got somewhat torn up during the coupe’s first drag race exploits, so was duly rebuilt by David, and uses a McLeod Racing Street Twin clutch and hydraulic release bearing. Likewise, the 9-inch was rebuilt, now with a Detroit TrueTrac limited-slip differential and Moser 31-spline axles. It’s hung on a Speedway Motors ’40 Ford spring and uses an Applied Racing Tech antiroll bar.
Wheels & Tires
David is a big fan of ’60s-style drag cars, so Radir wheels and appropriate tires were in order. The spindle mount fronts measure 18 inches in diameter, shod in Coker Classic motorcycle tires, with piecrust slicks encasing the 10x15 Tri-Rib rears.
Body & Paint
With the exception of a Brookville grille shell and insert, a dimple-die-holed visor and a little touch-up green paint, the body is as stock as the day it left the factory! Eric Bachmeyer recessed the firewall to clear the engine though, and the roof insert’s exterior material has been removed.
Hot and loud would sum up the interior if our brief drive in the car is anything to go by! A pair of Jaz racing seats were upholstered by Carlos Casteneda in diamond tuck metalflake green vinyl to match the steering wheel, a set of Auto Meter gauges were added to the stock dash, and a rollbar by Craig Henderson was added for racing duties. Wesco Performance five-point harnesses complete the creature comforts, with no carpet, door panels, or headliner in evidence. Perfect! A/C comes courtesy of the opening stock windshield, while sounds would come from the blown small-block, if the Webbers could hear it through the ear plugs they have to wear whilst driving!