Chick Mokracek is a retired Los Angeles City fireman, which might go some way to explaining the two Model T fire engines he's restored. While this is his first hot rod, he's been involved with cars since an early age. In fact, saving his paper route earnings as a 12-year-old enabled him to buy a '31 Model A four-door sedan, which he learned to drive in, and which provided his introduction to working on cars.
We mentioned the fire engines, but Chick has also restored a 1914 T Depot Hack and a 1915 Touring. The itch to build a hot rod, however, was one that needed scratching, so after 20 years of collecting parts from swap meets, friends' backyards, and even the desert, he had a good idea of what he wanted to build—his version of a Modified Roadster lakes car.
He had a picture of the car in his mind, though succinctly says, "When you build a car from scratch you have that picture in your mind, but when you start building it that picture changes. The farther you get on the build, the more you change it. At some point you have to stop." For instance, when he started building the body he welded the door closed, planning to climb in, but when it was on a rolling chassis, it was too high to climb into. "Back to the drawing board! I found a door hinge, cut the door open, and installed the hinge." The original plan was to use two World War II bomber seats too. "But when I mounted them in the body, the backs were too high, 4 inches above the body. I changed to a bench seat."
While this may be a decidedly early style build, it incorporates over 60 parts owner-machined from billet aluminum, including the engine mounts, friction shocks, valve cover plate, the dash and instrument bezels, the brake and clutch pedals, and hand fuel pump. He also machined the fuel injection setup, similar to a Scott Injector from the '40s, used in conjunction with a Thomas finned aluminum head, replacing the Cragar Overhead with two Stromberg 81 carbs that were used when the car debuted.
If, like us, you keep looking at the pictures and are thinking everything looks in proportion, but that tub sure looks smaller than you remember, it's probably because the front half of a 1919 Touring has been narrowed 4 inches and shortened by 5 inches, all by the owner. "The bodywork took about three months. I would fill, sand, and prime then Bob Money would come over and circle all the bad spots and say 'Not ready yet.' Finally he gave the OK and I delivered the body to his shop for paint."
That's not exactly a stock Model T frame either, though unusual for the basis of a hot rod, it did start life as one, now fully boxed and with a 10-inch Z in the rear. That's not a T engine either, but an H&H-built '32 Ford four-banger, backed by a Chevy S-10 five-speed. In fact, there's not much on this car that isn't heavily modified or scratchbuilt. It's the product of five years of work by its owner, who tackled everything except the paint and upholstery. It's a unique homebuilt hot rod, and that's just how we like 'em!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1919 Ford Model T
Starting with a genuine 1919 Model T frame, Chick Z'd it 10 inches in the rear, added the centersection of a Model A rear crossmember and a custom front crossmember with a suicide spring mount, then fully boxed the 'rails, ending up with a 100-inch wheelbase. A 4-inch dropped T front axle (by Rootlieb, better known for their hoods) mounts on a split wishbone and a T transverse spring, with owner-fabbed friction shocks. There are no front brakes. Steering comes by way of one of the only modern parts on the car, a Schroeder Sprint Car steering box.
The '32 four-banger was machined and assembled by H&H Antique Ford in La Crescenta, CA, and uses a Thomas 7:1 aluminum head with owner-fabricated fuel injection on a Burns dual downdraft intake. It uses a Mallory single-point distributor and a Model T water pump, with more owner-fabbed parts in the form of the side cover and header. Burbank Radiator modified a '20 T radiator.
Chick also fabricated the adaptor that hooks the engine to a Chevy S-10 five-speed trans. A 9-inch Ford 3 finger V-8 clutch and S-10 disc are used, with a Model A flywheel that's had 20 pounds removed. An open driveshaft exits the aluminum bellypan just ahead of the '40 Ford rearend, which like the front axle, is also hung on split 'bones, homemade friction shocks, and a transverse spring, this time a Model A item. The quick-change centersection came from Hot Rod Works in Nampa, ID, Chick's wife came home one day when he was assembling the quick-change to find the pinion shaft in the freezer and the centersection in the oven. She thought he was cooking dinner!
Wheels & Tires
You likely recognize the rear wheels as 16-inch Ford wires, wrapped in 8.90x16 dirt track rubber, but what are the front wheels? They're 30x3 wires from 1920, albeit finished to a higher standard than almost 100 years ago. Front rubber is also Firestone, with a "non-skid" tread pattern.
Body & Paint
The front half of a 1919 Touring body was narrowed 4 inches and shortened 5 inches prior to the owner tackling the bodywork. Perched atop the rear crossmember is a 1915 T 10-gallon gas tank, while out front is a stock T grille shell and 1920 T headlights. There may not be much bodywork, but it was worked to perfection prior to Charlie Feroze and Bob Money laying on the two-stage black topcoats. Bob Coslett then added the pinstriping and numbers on the gas tank. Chick fabricated an aluminum bellypan and left it unpainted.
Charlie Feroze upholstered the tub and narrow bench seat in brown leather with 2-inch pleats and added black carpet. An engine turned full-width dash panel hold four Moon gauges in owner-fabbed bezels, as well as the switchgear, while a tach hangs below the steering column, itself capped by a wood-rimmed, aluminum-spoked race car wheel from 1920. There are 3-inch-wide competition-type harnesses to keep the driver and any passenger inside the diminutive body. As well as all the machining, which includes the pedal assembly, Chick also tackled the wiring.