Troy Ladd's company, Hollywood Hot Rods, has attained a high profile over the past few years. Think of Ladd's own "Respect Tradition" '32 roadster, STREET RODDER magazine's Road Tour '40 Ford, or the Mustang HHR built for Ford that debuted at last November's SEMA show.
Going back a few years, it was in this very magazine that HHR gained its first ink; a roof chop tech article on a '50 Chevy. That '50 was owned by Zulu, who now owns this '27 T coupe, also built by HHR. Being friends with Ladd, it was a no-brainer to get Ladd's fledgling shop to chop the '50. And while Zulu had a lot of fun with that car, driving it every day, the urge to own a hot rod bit, and a tall T coupe topped his list.
The one thing Zulu specified when he delivered the original body to HHR was: "Do not chop the top!" According to the owner, "They took that literally and chopped and modified every other piece of sheetmetal!" In fact this was one of the most challenging parts of the project, as both shop and customer wanted the coupe to be traditional in appearance, yet far from stock, with many custom touches and re-designed sheetmetal.
Some of this was out of necessity—fitting a small-block in the confines of a T engine bay requires somewhat more than a large shoehorn—while most was for style, such as the '32-style fuel tank and custom matching framehorn covers, or the bottom edge of the windshield modified and moved up to match the door window openings. This same sense of style, and desire to make the sheetmetal look like it belonged, also saw two '32 grille tops narrowed and mated together, the front fenders re-shaped to flow into the new grille, as well as the custom three-piece hood. You'll also notice Zulu's signature Z motif used throughout the car, from the floormats inside to the braces in the hairpins on the front suspension.
One thing this coupe was always intended to be was a daily driver, just like the Chevy before it, and that's exactly what it's used for. According to Zulu, "Every time I drive it though Hollywood, I get a reaction from people." Having now moved from L.A. to Austin, TX, the location may have changed, but we're sure the reactions will remain the same. We'll leave the last words to Zulu: "My Chevy was a daily driver and I wanted the same out of the Model T. The final product met my needs and exceeded them! I can hop in my hot rod, crank up the music and A/C, and cruise wherever the day takes me."
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1927 Model T coupe
Hollywood Hot Rods fabricated a stretched wheelbase chassis from rectangular steel tube with tubular crossmembers. The 4-inch dropped tube axle is the narrowest Super Bell offers, mated to Pete & Jake's spindles and JRI shocks. A modified Wilwood hanging pedal assembly with a hidden reservoir operates the Buick/Wilson Welding brakes.
An 8-inch Ford rearend is hung on a four-link by HHR, with Posies quarter-elliptical springs acting as the lower links. Moving forward through the Inland Empire–fabbed driveshaft and 200-4R trans assembled by Trans Action in Sun Valley, CA, there's a GM crate 350 small-block fed by three Rochesters on an Edelbrock intake. HHR fabricated the exhaust system, using block hugger headers, while the radiator is from U.S. Radiator.
Wheels & Tires
Hubcap and trim ring–equipped 15x6 and 15x8 artillery wheels from Wheelsmith are mounted front and rear, respectively, shod in BFGoodrich T/A rubber.
Body & Paint
The coupe may look fairly stock—because that's the idea! The grille shell is the tops of two '32 grilles welded together, then narrowed to fit the T's proportions, with the insert modified accordingly. The body has been stretched 3 inches forward of the cowl, with a custom three-piece louvered hood. The fenders were stretched to match, but also pinched front to rear to create a "wedge" shape. The lower edge of the windshield opening was raised to match the lower edge of the side glass, and the frame modified to match, and a Model A visor was added. Around back, the decklid was custom-fabricated, while below it there's a recessed license plate that tilts down to access the fuel filler. A '32-style gas tank cover and framehorn covers were added below the rear pan, flanked by '37 taillights on custom mounts. The custom oxblood color is a special mix using PPG products.
A handmade metal dash incorporates a '50 Oldsmobile gauge cluster with updated mechanicals, and flows into the doors. One regular HHR touch is to modify Wilwood pedals so the brake and throttle pedals match. It may be a small interior but HHR managed to package a Vintage Air A/C system in there, behind the seat, while Art of Sound in Upland, CA, squeezed a full Alpine sound system in too. Mark Lopez's Elegance Auto Interiors, also in Upland, covered the custom seat, door panels, and headliner in gray leather, trimming the floor with German weave carpet.