If they think like John Gunsaulis it's a matter of when, not if.
They say a person is the sum of his experiences. Think about the choices you make. You might not recognize it, but every one owes itself to some event in life.
But what about your car? Most owners say their cars are extensions of their personalities but ask someone why they did a particular thing and chances are they'll say that they saw someone else do it. You'll seldom hear that a modification owes its existence to its creator's other interests.
This year a Model A showed up at the Grand National Roadster Show that didn't exactly fit that mold. It was a hot rod, but it bore only two speed parts. It appeared to be made from mass-produced cars, but many parts defied recognition. Those looked too old and sophisticated to be new, much less made by the ordinary-looking guy in the T-shirt next to the car. It had to be coincidence that he built a seat in the image of a piece of iconic early mid-century Modern furniture.
There's nothing coincidental about John Gunsaulis' car. It's like a sailor's tattoos in the sense that it tells his life story. Here's the more detailed account.
John's dad, the late Richard "Speedy" Gunsaulis, started building hot rods during the golden-age of the show car. Cars were a family thing; in magazine photos John's mom, Barbara, factors prominently in the driver seat of Richard's hot rods (polio robbed him of the full use of his legs). John and his sister, Janelle, both got Ford woodies upon their births (they still have them). Frequent visits by the late Ford historian Lorin Sorensen suggest history factored prominently in the Gunsaulis house. Art did too; John studied graphic arts.
John's broad spectrum of interests would've remained independent had it not been for an unlikely catalyst: his wife, Molly. "We moved to Detroit in 2005 so Molly could do her residency," John begins.
For historians Detroit is sort of like Mecca. "Going to Edsel's house changed everything," John says. His dad wrecked his spirit and the company wrecked his name but Edsel was the cosmopolitan genius behind some of the company's most praised designs, many of which took root in the various speedsters he commissioned to test his ideas.
"I kept thinking about those guys driving those cars," John ponders. "It really helped me focus on building something that looked more like a prototype than a hot rod." As he couldn't work on the roadster pickup he left behind, he did the next best thing: he built it in his head. "A lot of the prototype cars have the names of places," he observes. Ford's Highland Park plant is on Woodward. John and Molly lived on Woodward thus the "Woodward Roadster" was born.
Upon his return John bounced his new vocabulary off an old friend and artist, Jeff Allison. "Jeff would come over and we'd fight and fight and fight about ideas," he says fondly (it's Kabuki theater). "We'd yell and scream at each other … even though we were talking about the same thing."
John began with a hashed 1932 frame. He and Darrell Peterson extended the K-member's flanges to the framerails and installed a Model A front crossmember. They severed the frame where the running board reveal ends and grafted a Model A rear crossmember to the open channel. Fabricated framehorns rise from that crossmember and point rearward. John welded a Model T rear crossmember between them.
A Ford V8-/60 tube axle and Deuce wishbone lead the car. John split the 'bone and lengthened its legs 9 inches. The legs mount to the frame by tie-rod ends but not by the way you'd think.