California Hot Rod History: 1928 Ford Roadster

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Contrary to popular belief, the concept of the hot rod didn’t only spring up in Southern California.  In many areas of the country, the search for speed while on a budget infected many people, and they built faster, lower, stripped-down cars as their abilities allowed.  Yet it was the Southern California hot rod culture that defined the hot rod image to most thanks to films and magazines headquartered there.  This 1928 Ford roadster showcases many of the characteristics of the quintessential hot rod.  The Ford frame, Ford roadster body, later V-8 engine, manual transmission, lowered stance, and the simple elegance of its utter simplicity are all there.  With a claimed California hot rod history, is this jaunty little veteran of The Race of Gentlemen the kind of hot rod you would be interested in?

Before moving any further, we have to acknowledge the resurgence of traditional hot rods.  The So-Cal movement started before World War II and grew tremendously after hostilities ceased.  In this area converged many different critical components.  First off, it was close to the dry lake beds that allowed for top-speed runs.  Second, the area was home to several defense manufacturers who had factories filled with skilled metalworkers, machinists, and mechanics.  Third was that the dry climate was essential for preserving older automobiles, especially convertibles, in excellent condition decades after they were built.  The cars that were built in this environment were some of the purest expressions of speed and simplicity ever rendered.

The roadster you see here is a proper interpretation of the old hot rods from back then.  The roadster body is from a 1927 Ford Model T, while the frame came from a more modern 1928 Ford Model A.  This combination uniquely splits the dividing line between the Model T and the Model A, as 1927 was the last year of the Model T and 1928 was the first year for the Model A.  The Model A frame was a huge step up in rigidity and allowed for more modern suspension parts to be used.  The Model T roadster body looks positively dowdy as a stock vehicle.  However, on a lowered hot rod, this sleek sheetmetal looks just right.

The seller tells us that this is a genuine Ford all-steel body instead of one of the many fiberglass replicas running around.  It is powered by a 350 cubic inch small block Chevrolet engine of undisclosed vintage and backed up with a Turbo 350 automatic transmission.  The brakes are, not surprisingly, hydraulic instead of the standard mechanical brakes that came on 1928 Fords.  While it is hard to tell from the pictures, this looks like a standard Ford 1939-1948 drum brake setup.

If you are wondering about the lack of a windshield and hood, the seller has removed them because they like the look of the car without them.  These pieces, though not pictured in the ad, will come with the sale.  The ad also states that the car has “a real California hot rod club history.”  There is also a picture of a piece of clothing with the name of a car club and a Rat Fink-type cartoon in the center.  If any of our readers know anything about this club, please share your knowledge with us in the comments.  In addition, there is also a screenshot of a picture of the car at The Race of Gentlemen event in New Jersey, but there is no description of the car’s participation.

As a whole, the car is very attractive and seemingly period-correct for a post-1955 hot rod.  The seller assures us that it is capable of driving anywhere you would like to go.  While more interior, engine, and undercarriage pictures would have been nice, this is a car to follow up on if you are looking for such a ride.

If you are looking for a traditional hot rod that might have some of that original So Cal magic in its history, then this 1928 Ford roadster hot rod for sale on Facebook Marketplace in York, Pennsylvania may be the car for you.  This road-ready Race of Gentlemen veteran can be yours for $17,500.  Thanks again to T.J. for locating yet another awesome hot rod!

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Quality workmanship sure makes a difference in a hot rod and this one has quality written all over it. Nice car.

    Like 10
  2. Big C

    This car could not have participated in The Race of Gentlemen. The rules state: OHV V-8 engines from 1949-1953. The SBC wouldn’t be allowed. But it would have looked cool in the parking lot.

    Like 13
  3. Darryl T

    The frame appears to be a ’32 Ford as it is much taller than a model A one and has the stamped accent line. Body is model T and it’s titled as a 1928?

    Like 7
    • z1rider

      Quite the contrary, as a model A frame positions the body higher than the frame of a 32. The trend was lower by that time. And the “accent line” you refer to was Fords way of eliminating the need for a splash apron. The frame side rail bridged the gap between the bottom of the body and the running board with the stock front fenders following that curve at the front. In 33 the frame and body were yet lower and the running board joined the frame at the top of the side rail, just a fraction of an inch below the lower body line.

      Like 1
      • Darryl T

        Contrary to what? The point was that neither the seller nor the writer recognized that it was a ’32 frame. I guess having built model A and ’32 hotrods for 60 years may give one a little advantage here, but that is basic hotrodding 101. And a ’27 body on a ’32 frame apparently being titled as a ’28 should be a bit of a red flag.

        Like 2
    • stillrunners stillrunnersMember

      Agree…..I saw a 1932 as well….read the ad write up and it says 1928 ?

      Like 0
  4. KurtMember

    Love the look!

    Like 5
  5. Charlie Burchett

    The frame is a 1932 Ford and the body is a 1926 or 1927 Model T.

    Like 0
  6. BobW

    You’re absolutely RIGHT! Thats a 1926-27 Model T Ford roadster body (or steel repro) on a 1932 Ford frame that appears to have been lengthened up front. I don’t see anything that looks Model A (1928 thru 1931). But a cool car regardless of what year is on the title!

    Like 0
  7. Larry Austin

    Anyone who can’t tell the difference between a Deuce frame and a Model A shouldn’t be writing with authority about hot rods.

    Like 8
    • FrankD

      Ouch! We should ALL be so fortunate to know every detail of every type of motor vehicle. We should be thanking Jeff for the listing.

      Like 14
      • z1rider

        I gave both of you, Larry and Frank a thumbs up as I am sympathetic to both of your comments.

        I am reminded of my trip to Dearborn back in 2007 for the 75th anniversary of the Deuce and the flathead V-8 hosted by Ford. One of the presenters for a technical session wondered aloud why Ford stamped the side rails of the 32 frames with that curve. Several of us in the audience knew it was made for the transition of the front fenders from the top of the side rail to the bottom where the fender would join the running board thus eliminating the need for splash aprons. He got a chorus of loud commentary from the audience letting him know of his ignorance, leaving us wondering how he was chosen to lead the discussion.

        Like 3
  8. Joe Haska

    Jeff, Lots of at a boys for your article ,it was very factual, although I don’t know how you blew the 32 frame, but everybody is entitled to a “Brain Fart” once in a while. I love the 27 T on Deuce rails! I t was very popular in the late 40’s and then the 32 Highboys took off. I don’t know why, I suspect they got affordable and they were easier to build. I think this one listed is awesome , timing is everything and I missed it! I would like to see pictures with a hood and windshield. I would do some little things lf it were mine,but nothing to change its attitude. Very special car and I have no quarrel with the price.

    Like 2
    • stillrunners stillrunnersMember

      He read the ad….plain and simple.

      Like 0
  9. Bunky

    cool looking rod. The 350/th350 running gear absolutely ruins it for me. The only thing worse than a late model SBC would be dreaded LS. 😖
    I get that it’s a hot rod, but if you’re not going to use a flatty, maybe a nailhead, or a “Rocket”. If it’s got to be a SBC use a 283 or 327…
    I know- I’m whining. The belly button power wouldn’t bother me so much if I didn’t really like the car-

    Like 4
    • robjMember

      My first thought was a 283 as well. I’m sure as soon as 265’s-283’s started showing up in junk yards many a nice “flatty” ended up behind the garage. I leaned towards the 283 as I just happen to have one without a home.

      Like 2
  10. Paul Alexander

    My best friend in high school and I built a ’28 roadster on a ’32 frame with a ’51 Olds motor/trans. Had to sell it when I went to college.😥

    Like 2
  11. Ken Smith

    If this car is really connected to The Shifters Car Club – it is the real deal! Here is the club info according to the Kustorama web site:

    Shifters Car Club So.Cal

    With roots all the way back to 1992, the Shifters are known as “the very first nostalgia hot rod club for the younger guys”. The gang consists of nine members, and 7 of these originates back to 1992. Marky Idzardi came up with the name for the club one night he and Alex was driving over to Kevan’s house. They were throwing names, and Alex suggested that maybe they should have a name that had something to do with shifting.

    The Shifters have created some famous cars, such as Alex Idzardi’s blue Five-window Deuce that made the cover of Rod & Custom. Marky Idzardi’s Purple People Eater, that also made the cover of Rod & Custom, and Anthony Cataneda’s “Brown Neck Bandito” bubble top car.

    Besides building some of the scene’s most radical hot rods, the Shifters are also known as the former hosts of the car show at the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend and the Anti-Blessing of the Cars.

    Like 1
  12. Michael Tischler

    Back in 71′ my brother bought a 23′
    T-Bucket .289/4 barrel,auto trans.Scary fast.

    Like 1
  13. Bakes

    Absolutely love the look and stance of this car. Very nicely designed, hopefully the execution is the equal of the design. Tempting…

    Like 0
  14. David Scully

    Gotta agree with Bob Hess and Joe Haska – nice looking piece of overall construction. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Schroeder center-steering setup. That alone requires some serious thought and engineering. More underside pics would have been nice to see. This car SCREAMS for a quick change rear end (maybe already there?) Great price point. Pic taken at event shows side panels and a DuVal-style windshield.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds