When it comes to building a hot rod, it isn’t just a matter of raw talent, specific parts, or style—it’s actually all of the above. It takes a special blend of ingredients to build a great hot rod, and Jeff Bennett certainly put his blending skills to the test with this ’29 Ford Model A sedan. It’s a superclean car with all sorts of custom details, but its simplicity steals the show, thanks to a custom-mixed color combination and a perfect stance. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more sanitary sedan on the show field, and the fact that Jeff intends to put some serious miles on his freshly built Model A makes it even better.
Jeff’s journey with his Tudor began a few years ago, when a friend told him about it. Mother Nature had begun to overtake the vintage steel, but the rotted body left its South Dakota home to join a few other projects in Jeff’s shop. He calls his shop Wide Open Customs, and he concentrates mostly on custom paint and bodywork, which is a good thing because this Model A needed lots of bodywork! The lower sections of the cowl, doors, and quarter-panels needed fresh metal, so Jeff spent plenty of time cutting, welding, and grinding the body panels.
Along with repairs to the body, Jeff also performed a number of tasteful body modifications, including a chopped and filled roof. A great mix of colors and textures gives the Model A its distinctive appearance, while Jeff’s craftsmanship also contributed to the custom chassis and suspension setup. Jeff turned every nut and bolt on this Model A and he’s proud of it. In fact, the only parts of the build he didn’t perform are the upholstery and the machine work on the Mercury Flathead engine.
We spotted the car at one of its first events, the Goodguys Nashville Nationals. The clean body modifications and super-slick paintjob caught our eye immediately, but the interesting color combination on the Flathead engine certainly added to the appeal. The stance is spot-on and the tires and wheels are sized appropriately with just the right amount of vintage style. More traditional flavor lives inside, with a cool dash treatment and upholstery pattern. Jeff set a great example for Model A lovers by keeping it simple, but going above and beyond when it came to finish quality.
After two years of work, the ragged body he purchased for $1,200 has been transformed into a magnificent hot rod that oozes with traditional style. In true hot rodder fashion, Jeff decided to forget the fenders and go the highboy route with his killer Model A. With a keen eye for the overall look, as well as the all-important details, Jeff knocked this one out of the park and had a good time doing it.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1929 Ford Model A Tudor
Jeff built the chassis using 1 1/2x4-inch rectangular tubing and gave it the traditional hot rod treatment with a Super Bell 4-inch dropped front axle. A pair of ’46 Ford split wishbones locates the axle, while a Vega steering box keeps the fenderless sedan between the lines. The front brakes are ’40 Ford units, which utilize finned aluminum drums from a Buick. Rear brakes are stockers from the ’66 Ford 8-inch rearend. Coilover shocks and ’40 Ford radius rods keeps the rearend stable. An interesting feature of this chassis is the fact that Jeff welded it to the floor structure of the Model A body, creating a unibody structure.
Everything about Jeff’s engine screams hot rod, even though it isn’t covered in speed parts. The engine is a fairly mild Mercury Flathead, coming in at 276 ci with mostly stock internals. Jeff sent the parts to Mountainland Machine in Roanoke, VA, where they were prepped for assembly. An Isky 400 Jr. camshaft operates the valves, while a Holley 390-cfm four-barrel carburetor sends a mixture of fuel and air into the Offenhauser intake. Jeff built the headers, as well as the 2-inch exhaust system. A C4 automatic transmission backs the Flathead, thanks to a Speedway Motors adapter.
Wheels & Tires
Jeff’s Model A rolls on a set of E.T. Dragmaster wheels, sized at 15x5 up front and 15x7 out back. The Firestone bias-ply tires came from Coker Tire, and give the car a nice rubber rake with 5.60-15 and 8.20-15 sizing.
Body & Paint
Thanks to Jeff’s expertise in bodywork and paint at his shop, Wide Open Customs, the necessary repairs didn’t hinder his enthusiasm for the build. The body needed lots of work, but Jeff replaced the panels and then chopped the top 3 inches and filled the roof with a ribbed panel. He then raised the rear wheel arches and sectioned the grille shell to match the amount he channeled the body. Jeff straightened the panels to perfection and applied PPG Concept materials in a custom-mixed hue that he calls Wide Open Green. An off-white firewall adds nice contrast to the color combination, while off-white pinstripes, laid down by David “Hivoltz” Richards, tie it all together.
Mike Moore of M&S Upholstery handled the stitchwork, using black vinyl and green cloth inserts from a ’55 Chevy seat cover. It’s a very cool design that is consistent with the car’s traditional style, and the highly modified van seat looks right at home in the tight confines. The dash is a cut-down ’53 Ford piece, and Jeff even used the ’53 Ford steering column and shifter to complete the look. After chopping the garnish moldings, Jeff sent them off for chrome plating to enhance the ’50s theme. A hidden Kenwood stereo provides tunes while Jeff blasts down the road.