SpecificationsJohn MumfordPortola Valley, CA1929 Ford Roadster Pickup
ChassisWhen the Ala Kart began it was originally going to be a very clean driver, but as things progressed the direction toward a full show car became clear. The project was built by two camps with Richard Peters and Blackie Gejeian handling the chassis and Barris working on the body. The Fresno team put together a beautiful platform starting with an original '29 Model A frame and added a custom center crossmember and a chromed Model A rear crossmember. Up front every bolt-on component was chromed including a 4-inch dropped front axle, spindles, split wishbones, coil springs in custom built cups, tube shocks, Panhard bar and '40 Ford backing plates and drums. In the rear more chrome components included a '32 Ford rearend, custom coil springs and cups, Panhard bar and Ford hydraulic brakes. All four corners ride on airbags inside the coils springs- a new innovation of the time George Barris borrowed from the new Cadillacs. The chassis both originally and for the restoration was painted White pearl with purple and gold scallops.
DrivetrainWhen Richard's future wife basically said "It's your speed boats or me" he got rid of the boats and kept only the built injected Hemi. The '54 266ci Dodge Red Ram mill would be one of the main components to get him started on the Ala Kart, and connected to it via a polished Cragar adapter is a '39 Ford transmission filled with Zephyr gears. Goodies on the "baby Hemi" include Hilborn fuel injection, a Scintilla Vertex magneto and custom headers recreated by Sanderson Headers.
Wheels & TiresThe wheels on the Ala Kart are "chromed reverse" as would become the "must have" set-up in the late fifties and early sixties. This particular set started with a set of Ford 15-inch centers that were cut down to fit a set of 14-inch reversed outer rims. As was done in the early days, all the pieces were chromed and then welded together after the chroming process. Candy gold bullets are fitted in the center with BF Goodrich whitewalls mounted on all four corners. 5.60-14 rubber is mounted up front with 8.00-14 skins fitted in the rear.
Body & PaintThe body and paint on the Ala Kart could fill volumes, but we'll try and keep it down to just the facts here. The body work originally handled by Barris Kustom started with a '29 Ford roadster pickup that was heavily modified with the addition of a '27 Ford roadster back section with '29 Ford fenders that were peaked and bobbed using 1/2-inch round rod to form the new fender edges. The custom nose was formed from steel and fitted with a chromed expanded steel insert and clear plastic tubes. The custom three-piece hood was made from aluminum and the steel splash aprons were punched with multiple louvers. The custom steel bed was created from scratch and fitted with Candy Gold painted inserts and chrome trim. The '57 Chrysler headlights are molded to the custom grille shell with '56 DeSoto taillight lenses mated to '58 Impala bezels mounted in the rear. After sitting for many years the restoration was begun by original painter Junior Conway at Junior's House of Color and then finished by Bill Ganahl at Brizio Street Rods. Junior Conway was instrumental in the recreation of the Swedish White Pearl paint job and candy Purple and Gold scallops which he described the exact colors of the original to painter Darryl Hollenbeck of Vintage Speed and Color. Pinstriper Rory recreated Dean Jeffries original line work down to Jeffries trademark signature.
InteriorThe intricate original upholstery of the Ala Kart by Roy Gilbert was always one of its standout features and the recreation of that stitch work was handled by Howdy Ledbetter, a long time Ala Kart fan who built his own tribute to the milestone car a few years back. Inside upholstery uses a combination of white vinyl and black velvet while the top tonneau and undercarriage use white and black vinyl with gold piping to set it off. The recreation of the original dash uses a stucco patterned aluminum fitted with '57 Corvette gauges (the dash was one of the only things later modified with more Stewart Warner gauges, believed to be fitted while the car was owned by AMT). A '57 Lincoln steering wheel accented by a gold center bullet finishes off the cockpit.