Rod & Custom Feature Car
Dalton Gardens, Idaho
1929 Ford 49A Special Coupe
For those of you anguishing over the cost of building a cool car we have some good news: you don't need to fight everyone else over the expensive stuff. And we're not asking you to take it on blind faith, either. We have proof. We have photos of Logan Asher's 1929 Ford.
But before you remind us that values for Model A coupes like his have shot up in the recent past, take a closer look at his car's body. Specifically, check out the back of the top. That sea of vinyl back there, it wasn't Logan's idea. That was Ford's.
Ford produced what it referred to as the 49A Special Coupe for basically one year: 1929. The difference between it and the 45A Standard Coupe runs deeper than that leatherette though. The Special Coupe uses the quarters from the Sport Coupe, Business Coupe, and possibly the Cabriolet. Those pieces end as tack strips at the beltline. In the Special Coupe's case, though, three independent roof skins that largely resemble the Standard Coupe's top fasten to those tack strips. The leatherette covers the seams among the panels.
According to its $5-$10 price premium, the Special Coupe was the high-zoot deluxey model; however, that status didn't translate with age. In fact, by the time those cars depreciated to the point a kid could afford them, the leatherette inevitably failed, rusting the tin and rotting the wood—and comparatively speaking there's a ton of wood in a Special Coupe body. Because they weren't a real hit then they really aren't a big hit now. As a result, when Special Coupes turn up these days it's usually for dirt-cheap. For the most part the average Special Coupe buyer usually lops off the roof and door tops to make often-ungainly aberrations, which some refer to as Coupesters.
Not Logan. In fact, he didn't build his car despite its special-coupe origins as much as because of them. "I thought it was kind of cool looking," he says. "I'd never seen one done up like a hot rod either." Plus he got a great deal on the body. Good enough for us.
Logan got an even better deal because he got it from his pal Don Swartz as a pile of disjointed parts. He kept the costs even lower by building the car pretty much by himself. He built the chassis at his Dalton Gardens, Idaho, home (think Coeur d'Alene). He boxed it, fabricated a center crossmember, equipped that with a 1941 Ford heavy-truck pedal assembly, and stepped the frame at the rear to raise the spring crossmember.
He based the front suspension on a stretched Deuce axle, a split Deuce wishbone, a reversed-eye 1932-34 spring, and 1941 spindles. The rear consists of a 1947 passenger-car axle that he converted to open drive using the stock parts and a borrowed lathe. That bolts to 1935-36 radius rods and a Model A spring. Both ends run Ford Houdaille dampers and 1940-48 brakes.
Dave Swenson machined and built the Mercury 8CM. Logan doesn't race so Swenson limited the modifications to a clean-up bore and a cam, this one Ed Winfield's timeless and versatile SU-1A profile. He topped the engine with an Eddie Meyer manifold and heads from Bill Payne. Spokane's Roger Domini rebuilt the 1950 Mercury overdrive transmission that bolts to the engine.
Logan clipped a 5-inch-wide band from the coupe's pillars. Though he's probably too tall to be doing such things, he also channeled the body 6 inches. As a testimony to his resourcefulness and skills he also applied the 1953 Olds Chestnut Poly PPG Duracryl acrylic lacquer (he's a painter by trade—a house painter, though). City Auto Glass in Spokane cut sheets to templates he supplied.
Even the dash is unconventional and better because of it. It's a 1937 that Logan narrowed and adorned with 1939 gauges. What stats those gauges don't report, a collection of standard Stewart-Warner dials mounted in a panel under the dash does. He outfitted the F-1 steering column with a 1940 mast jacket and wheel. Mike Maris, Logan's pal who just happens to be his girlfriend's Pop, wired the car from scratch.
To make the very most of what interior space remained, Logan fabricated a seat frame from 1-inch square tubing. Another close friend, Bruce Oliver in Post Falls, trimmed it and the door panels in black vinyl and the floor in black square-weave carpet. Incidentally Bruce did the novel top, a job that, "...turned out beautiful," Logan beams. And it did.
It took six years for Logan Asher to build his uncommon coupe but only a year or so to sell it. "I wanted to buy a house—we're closing on one right now," he explains. He sold it to Bob Mosh in Paso Robles, California.
Though it represents a chunk of his personal life, his car represents a broader idea, one that proves that it's not necessarily what you start with as much as what you do with it. The heads, manifold, and possibly the Deuce axle and wishbone withstanding, there really isn't an exotic part on the car.
But look at it. It says something. Specifically it says that in the hands of a talented, disciplined, and dedicated builder, anything can be cool. Even a brown Model A Special Coupe.