1931 Ford Model A Coupe
Engine: Turbo Offy
Transmission: '39 Ford 78 series box
Drive Line: Culver City Halibrand quick change rear end
Frame: Z'd & modified '31 frame
Body is chopped 3 inches & channeled 4 inches
1940 Ford hydraulic brakes
"Hey this car's leakin' all over my driveway!"
The Half Century of Progress
On our family trips to Chicago in the 50s we would always stop on the way home at Carl's Doghouse on Jeffrey & South Chicago Avenue for Vienna hotdogs, fries, and rootbeer. The dogs and fries were a quarter while the Nedlog rootbeer (golden spelled backwards) could go as high as 15 cents. Next door was Skyway Motors a used car dealership with two salesmen both wearing shoes with tassels and checkered sports jackets.
One day in July of 1958 as we were eating those Vienna dogs, fries, and Nedlog rootbeers I saw through the steam covered window the outline of an old Ford coupe in the Skyway Motors lot. I asked my father to come look at the car with me and off we went.
To me the car was beautiful if you squinted your eyes ignoring the rust out and cracks. I began to plead my case with the old man, cajoling him with promises of better grades, no talking back to my mother, cutting the grass at home as well as at grandma's place, and a whole litany of other tasks that both he and I knew were total bullshit. He was also this giant kid at heart and probably wanted the car as much as I did and so he said he would see what we could do.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the two checker-coated, tassel-shoed salesmen piling out of their office racing each other toward us. The old man put on his game face. The contest began. The taller salesman with the longer legs took charge. The other salesman was relegated to a supportive role probably with no commission. "Two hundred fifty bucks and take her home" he announced. The old man was in a state of shock--it might as well of been a million. Soon he rallied, shook off the initial blow, and hit back with a below the belt 25 dollar offer claiming that even two bits is too much for a jalopy. The contest ended up as a draw even though the salesman came down to two hundred dollars-- the old man wouldn't budge.
The ride home was uneasy. I was disappointed, my younger sister was squirming because my mother had her hands over my sister's ears to protect her from hearing the old man's tirades about the checker-coated, tasseled-shoed salesman.
Two days later the Model A was in the driveway. I cut grandma's grass that day.
Throughout that summer my buddy Jimmy & I worked on that car. My Uncle Sharkey showed us how to scrape the carbon from the head and pistons. We learned how to grind the valves. We scraped, cleaned, and wire brushed the car. After it ran more dependably we began driving it back and forth in the driveway. The neighbors, already accustomed to the strange going ons at the Casmir house didn't even call the cops when we drove the car as thirteen year olds up and down the street.
Jimmy and I made big plans for the car. During the winter we planned on working on it. We drew pictures of the chop and channel we were going to perform. We saw an old Allison V-12 in a junkyard in Calumet City, Illinois that we dreamed about acquiring. We talked, planned, and dreamed about the car daily. We knew of a magnesium cased Miller four banger in another junkyard in Hammond. We pondered whether that would be a better choice. That winter we started. We disassembled the car completely, started cleaning the frame, and worked like beavers on our project. Then as sometimes is the case around Chicago it got cold and the unheated garage behind my parent's house got cold too. Work stopped.
Here I am in 1958 already disassembling a perfectly good car to start a fifty year quest.
Fast forward almost fifty years the car still looks the same as when we stopped that frigid winter. Something had to be done. Jimmy & I are still friends and I told him that we had to finish what we had started. Now we are thrashing to complete this car before July of 2008 which would be 50 years since I acquired it. It will be just how we planned and dreamed--chopped, channeled, and with the most powerful four banger that ever existed--a Miller derived Turbo Offy.
fast forward to the present
Here I am in 2008 after 50 years of toil and strife.
Arrival at the 2009 Hunnert Car Pileup after 60 miles in 32 degree weather.
That's not rust-- it's patina
Model A Culver City halibrand quick change
The twin Webers are just place holders til the turbo is installed
Genuine old sprintcar steering wheel--patina everywhere
All that's left is to dress the engine & install the radiator
First ride in 50 years!
It's just a 4 banger
These turbo Offy engines in race trim, injected on alcohol, running 125 inches of boost produce around 1200 horse power for qualifying at Indianapolis. This set up here with twin turbos blowing through twin 45dcoe Webers on gasoline produce much less. The front aluminum tank is used for the dry sump oil storage. The driving experience can best be described as unique--it's a little harsh.
original bill of sale
The old man got 'em down to a hundred bucks!