We love meeting guys who have been building hot rods for decades, their enthusiasm never waning. A retired rancher, Bob Kile is that guy, with a lifelong passion for building hot rods, building his first, a '32 roadster, back in San Angelo, Texas, in 1957. There have been many over the ensuing years, this neat Model A roadster pickup the latest. It took Bob a full decade to persuade the last, and only the truck's second, owner to sell it to him before he wasted no time in rebuilding it.
According to Bob, "A rancher by the name of Schindler was the original owner, buying it new in 1931 in Menard, Texas. It stayed on his ranch until 1995 when Harley Loso purchased it and brought it back to San Angelo, Texas, to the ranch he currently lives on. Loso grew up on Schindler's ranch as a friend of the family and learned to drive in this truck. After bringing it home, Harley had thoughts of restoring the truck but never got around to it.
"I knew of the truck all these years and tried to buy it from Loso several times. He finally broke down and sold it to me for $5,000 in 2005. It was a mess of a basket case by now. I took it to Eddie Gandy, and we stripped it down to the frame, which was then sandblasted. At that point we installed a '32 Ford center crossmember and new motor mounts for the V-8. The frame was Z'd 2½ inches, all unnecessary holes filled, but left unboxed. It was then sent for black powdercoat.
"The body and pickup bed were toast! All holes were filled in the firewall, new doorskins were fitted, as well as a new header panel for the bed. The bodywork was completed over a period of eight weeks, at which point the finished body and bed were mounted to the powdercoated frame. By now, H&H Flatheads in La Crescenta, California, had shipped the engine, a '47 Ford rearend was located in an old wrecking yard (subsequently changed for a Rodville quick-change with 3.78:1 gears), and a driveshaft and torque tube were shortened to fit up to a '39 transmission with Zephyr gears."
With the engine installed to check for fit, everything was then disassembled for paint, chrome, and detailing, before it all went back together for a final time. Hearing it run for the first time is always a great feeling, memorable second only to that first drive, and since that day Bob has driven it at least once a week. Not really a long-distance hauler, it gets driven around Scottsdale where Bob now lives, so we were glad to catch up with him when we were in town for a show last November!
1931 Ford Roadster Pickup
The stock Model A frame was Z'd by 2½ inches, and a '32 crossmember added, but it was not boxed. A '34 axle was dropped by 2½ inches, using '37 spindles, modified for the steering arms to clear the unsplit wishbone. A Model A spring had the eyes reversed, and with leaves removed to leave five remaining, each was ground and tapered. A '37 steering box was modified to fit the Model A mount, while a modified '32 pedal assembly was used. Brakes are from a '47 Ford.
H&H Flatheads built the 59A with a 4-inch stroke Merc crank and 0.080-inch bore to give a displacement of 276 ci. It uses new 8BA rods and a Winfield cam with Eddie Meyer heads and high-rise twin intake, mounting two chromed Stromberg 97s. A Mallory dual-point distributor and braided cloth wires light the fire and there's a 2-inch aluminized exhaust system incorporating a pair of Smithy glasspack mufflers under the car, terminating in tips using Triumph motorcycle parts. Bob assembled a '39 trans using Zephyr gears and a 10-inch clutch, which connects to the Rodville quick-change rearend via a shortened torque tube. Again, an uncut wishbone locates the axle, suspended on a Posies five-leaf Model A spring and using more '47 Ford brakes. The rear spring hangers are from Specialty Ford Parts and were trimmed to look like originals, then welded to the axle housing to allow the spring to mount above the axle. The rear shock mounts (with SO-CAL shocks) were made from '47-48 passenger car mounts.
Wheels & Tires
The '36 16-inch Ford wires were powdercoated red and used on all four corners of the truck, mounting Firestone 4.75x16s on the front and Coker 7.00x16s following behind.
Body & Paint
The body and bed are original 1931 steel, though the bed received a new header panel, and the doorskins are new. Rootlieb supplied the louvered hood top, while the grille and insert are '32 Ford. The windshield was laid back by 1 inch and the roof irons cut appropriately. A grille guard was formed from a '32 headlight bar, and that old Coke bottle opener has been on the rear of the bed all the truck's life, so it was re-fitted after Eddie Gandy finished the bodywork and sprayed the 2002 Corvette black paint. Though there are no rear fenders, the fronts were made from a '33 Ford spare tire cover. In the bed there's a 10-gallon Model T fuel tank and a Bitchin' Products battery box. The rattlesnake head on the original cowl-mounted gas cap is a bronze work of art done by a local artist that Bob had chromed.
A '32 dash found its way into the pickup, complete with old Stewart-Warner gauges in an engine turned stainless insert, with a column-mounted vintage 3,500-rpm Sun tach. That column is from a '40 pickup, and now has a '40 DeLuxe steering wheel bolted to it. The custom bench seat and interior panels were trimmed in red vinyl by Phoenix's Interior Shop, and are complemented by black square-weave carpet. Eddie Gandy tackled the wiring, making a custom harness.