Darrell Graham
Hayward, California
1929 Model A Roadster

Darrell Graham's love of 1929 Ford roadsters started when he first saw Tony Nancy's 22 Jr. car in Hot Rod magazine. Not long after, he replied to an ad in the local paper for a stock 1929 roadster. Once home, he and friend John Labat stripped it, kept the body, fenders, windshield, and running boards, and towed the rest to the junkyard. A 1932 sedan donated its chassis, and working in Graham's mother's backyard, the pile of parts quickly became a car, with a 1948 Ford rearend (with Halibrand quick-change), 283 Chevy V-8, LaSalle trans, Mor Drop front axle, and a 1956 F-100 steering box. At this point Graham's mother allowed him to use the garage, where the highboy was finished, with Joe Bailon hired to do the bodywork and paint it Candy Apple Red. Graham used it on the street and raced a little.

By now Labat was racing a 1948 Chevy with a V-8 in the D/Gas class at the drags, and the guys came up with the idea of selling the Chevy and using the money to fund the roadster as a race car. With slicks, a new engine built by George Santos of SS Automotive, and new upholstery and red paint, the car did well in B Street Roadster. Graham liked the fenders so much he couldn't bring himself to remove them, so they had all four punched with louvers to let air pass through them. The roadster was now known as "Little Hustler", and fitted with that distinctive double rollbar.

According to Graham, "We won several trophies racing, as well as Best Appearing Car and Crew, and held strip records at Fremont, Vacaville, and Half Moon Bay. Then we decided we wanted to go faster, so off came the fenders, and we put in a four-speed and a 1957 Olds rearend, and Tom Adgess and Kent Fuller built a new straight-axle using Willys brakes." Mike Haggerty came on board and paid for a new engine, with driving chores of the new silver-painted car now handled in turn by Graham, Labat, and Haggerty. In this form the car won its class at the Winternationals at Pomona. Haggerty then had to go to Vietnam, giving up the engine, then they all bought houses, had kids, and retired from racing.

The race car sat until the late 1970s, until Graham decided to redo it, using a TCI frame, auto trans, and Corvette rearend. Ken Jonerdo took on the job of putting it together. Once done, it was painted black and delivered to the Grand National Roadster Show, where it placed Second behind the "Infinity Flyer". After 53 years, the roadster has come full circle and is back on the street, Graham giving it to his son in 2012. If only that old sheetmetal could talk...


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