Our story starts back in early 2012, in Detroit. Terry Smith Sr. and his sons Chris and Terry Jr. had made the familiar trip to the Detroit Autorama. Except this time they'd be taking home more than T-shirts and souvenirs. We'll let Terry tell the tale:

"As usual I made a beeline for the basement, where the traditional rides are located. I find my Speedshifter Wheel Club friends and socialize awhile with a beverage, then start "the walk", both sons still with me. It didn't take long before I spotted this awesome silver '30 Model A. I'm looking it over pretty good and see a very small For Sale in the windshield corner. Even though the car wasn't finished (no gauges, no shifter, and other things) I had to find out more.

"I found John Hilton, a drag racer from the '60s, and asked to speak with the owner, not realizing how well known Hilton Family Racing is. He found his son Bobby and a connection was made. I told my sons to go on and see the show. Bobby went over the details with me and said he would finish the car in two weeks. I quickly said, with no price negotiations, that I'd take it.

"Bobby's plan was to drop the coupe off at a rod shop and museum north of Cincinnati. He lives in The Plains, Virginia, so the commute to finish the car would present its challenges. After three weeks passed I called Bobby and said I was on my way to pick up the car. It still wasn't completely ready so I spent an extra night and decided to take it anyway the next day. Besides, working on cars and making them work better is fun, right?

"After a love/hate relationship with the car and personalizing it, it's a blast to drive. One of my more exciting moments with it was being side-by-side with my wife (she's 66, I'm 69) in the other lane in her '10 Challenger R/T. On this four-lane busy town street we both got sideways but after that I never saw her. She said she freaked and let off!"

Rod & Custom Feature Car

Terry Smith Sr.
Richland, Michigan
1930 Model A coupe


Starting with a pair of American Stamping repro '32 'rails, a frame was fabricated with a pinched nose to accept the Model A body by Drew Strunk at Dropped Axle Productions in Cincinnati. The framehorns were removed at both ends and crossmembers added to accept the transverse leaf springs. A dropped and drilled original axle mounts early 11-inch Ford hydraulic brakes, itself hung on a split wishbone, while a Vega box takes care of steering duties.


The 354ci Chrysler Hemi, which started life in an Imperial, is internally stock, though benefits from a dual-point distributor, Holly 600-cfm carb, and Moon rocker covers. A 727 TorqueFlite auto with Lokar floor shifter links the engine to the rearend, an 8-inch from a Bronco. The lakes-style headers were fabricated the old-fashioned way, from '36 Ford driveshaft tubes, and incorporate motorcycle baffles.

Wheels & Tires

It has 4.50 and 7.50-16 Firestone bias-plies that hug the black-painted '40 Ford steelies front and rear, respectively, with Deluxe hubcaps providing just the right amount of shine.

Body & Paint

Jake's Chop Shop sliced 4 1/2 inches from the roof pillars, the original steel body also benefitting from new steel floors. The firewall was reversed to make a little more room for the Hemi, with a filled cowl being the only other body modifications. Gas now lives in a 10-gallon spun tank in the trunk. Brandon & Son in Ohio applied the silver topcoat. Though not shown in our pictures, the roof insert is removable, folds away, and can be stowed in the trunk.


A basic hot rod interior includes a black '32 dash with a Lobeck insert and Stewart-Warner Wings gauges, a quick-release four-spoke Bell-style steering wheel, seat, door, and side panels upholstered by Threads By Ray, and a motorcycle windshield bag used for a glove compartment.