Traditional Build: 1928 Ford Model A Roadster

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A funny thing happened to hot rods in the past decade or so.  Somehow, the trends slid away from Chip Foose and Boyd Coddington “billet” builds and returned to the traditional hot rod template that emerged before and after World War II.  If you are looking for a hot rod built in the traditional way with nearly all period correct parts, then we have a roadster for you.  Take a look at this 1928 Ford Model A roadster street rod for sale on eBay in Marietta, Georgia.  With a starting bid of $17,000 finding no takers yet, is this a sign of wariness at an ad with an extreme minimum of words?

Every action has a reaction.  The polished and machined hot rods that were popular in the eighties and nineties created a 180-degree reaction in the rodding community.  What resulted was a return to the roots of hot rodding.  The whole movement was started by people who wanted to go faster but didn’t have the resources to purchase new vehicles.  They used what they had, whether it was older vehicles, junkyard parts, ingenuity, and/or skills learned in the factories.  What resulted were vehicles that accomplished those goals.  They also, more often than not, were vehicles that were pure in both form and function.

It was this return to purity that gave us such events as The Race of Gentlemen, the H.A.M.B, and Billetproof among other reactions to the then status quo.  The power of eBay and message boards has also brought a lot of dusty vintage parts out of garages and sheds and put them back on vehicles where they belong.  Now we live in a world that early hot rodders would love.  Parts are plentiful, bodies are being reproduced, and builders have a number of directions they can go to put together the hot rod that looks perfect to them with the simplicity of a past age as a guide.

While it would be nice to be in a position to write out a laundry list of parts and perhaps even be able to articulate the vision of the builder.  Sadly, the only words in the ad are “1928 Ford Model A.”  That is it, beside the generic listings in the Item Specifics.  So, we will have to go through the pictures to determine something beyond the fact that this is a Model A roadster body on a Model A frame.  From the rear we see a standard early Ford rear end with hydraulic brakes.  A Model A would have come from the factory with mechanical binders.  Moving forward we see what I believe to be a late thirties Ford toploader three speed transmission.  I am unsure as to what the black mass behind the transmission is.  In the front is a dropped straight axle.

Under the hood is a bit of a mystery.  The pictures show either two different engines, or an engine that has either gained or lost a set of Navarro aluminum heads.  Of course, there is no explanation in the ad.  Most of the pictures show the engine with black painted cast iron Ford heads, and that is wat I would assume the car has under the hood at this moment.  Once again, details matter if you want to sell a car.

Above is the engine with black heads again.  This picture also shows how everything is much tidier than the Navarro head engine (if they are two different engines altogether).  One curious note is that it looks like a set of radiator hoses was cut just above the water inlet pipe, as if it were an engine yanked from another car at some time.  We do see a MSD coil and a crab type ignition on this engine.  The coils are the same on both engines, with this one looking newer.  We can also see what looks to be new plug wires.  I am curious about the cowl.  Are these patches over holes on a replacement cowl, or is this a reproduction body?  Can anyone tell us what they think is going on here?

In all, this looks like a fun car that runs out OK if the other pictures in the ad are any indication.  We don’t really know, but the overall concept is simple and sound.  A simple, no frills Model A based hot rod with mostly original parts is quite appealing.  It will be interesting to see what it sells for.

Have any of you ever built your own hot rod?  What was the project like?  Did you finish it?  Please let us know how it went in the comments.


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  1. EuromotoMember

    Weird ad. One line description, the seller’s other items (all 9) are shoes, and the car is sold out of Georgia with a Pennsylvania title.

    Like 4

    This is where I say nnnooooope. If you can’t be bothered to write a description of the multi thousand dollar car you want to sell, then I can’t be bothered to pay any mind to the ad. Like Euromoto said- weird ad, you’re selling shoes and a hotrod? You can’t even take the time to describe the hotrod you want to sell, so why would anyone take the time to contact you?

    Like 8
  3. Mark MitchellMember

    Traditional built 1928 Ford Roadster
    Steel body original frame
    1950 Ford Flathead with standard stroke converted to crab style distributor
    Navarro aluminum heads
    Iskendarian ¾ Cam
    Engine built by Harrold “putt” Smith 2017
    Louvered Hood
    39-46 running gear 3 speed transmission
    32 Ford grille and radiator
    Torque Tube headers w block off plates
    Soft top with new interior
    40 ford steering wheel
    Build was based on Vern Tardel’s book – How to Build a Traditional Ford Hot Rod

    On Feb-15-23 at 11:44:22 PST, seller added the following information:
    Car runs great! fuel tank and battery are located in the trunk. oil pressure is 25-30 at idle and around 40 driving. Brakes need to be bled it pulls to the right when braking. Paint is in decent condition not a show room finish but a driver. The car has no rust or welded in patch panels all Henry Ford steel.

    Like 5
  4. Lowell Peterson

    Nice ask on this one.

    Like 0
  5. Joe Haska

    If you think there is not adequate info on this car, you shouldn’t be buying it. It is an A V-8, built with Vern Tardel’s book as a reference, you should be able to figure it out. If you have never driven a Hot Rod like this, I would suggest doing it before you consider buying one. A few years ago myself and a friend drove a vintage 32 highboy from Denver to L.A. for a story, that was for a major Hot Rod publication. The car was the real deal, built in 1946 and restored to that exact level and time. No gas gauge, no speedometer, no conveniences, the tachometer and the generator failed in the 1st 100 miles. We were asked what did yo do? We filled the gas tank in the morning, drove as fast as “WE” thought was safe. When it stopped we put in more gas. At night at the motel with an extension cord and a trickle charger, we plugged it in, from our room. We only had one major problem and that was fighting over who got to drive and for how long. I have had many experiences like this and loved them all. But, I would suggest you give it some serious thought before you try it. It is not for everybody!

    Like 8
    • Big C

      Ah yes. “If you have to ask…? There’s a way to build up the hobby.

      Like 1
  6. David Scully

    Lots of good stuff done here – frame looks to be totally boxed, middle cross member (that black thing referenced earlier) used as a rear transmission mounting plate (ala ’32 Ford) w/juice brake cylinder also deployed there, Must also have an open driveline (no torque tube in the frame shot), easily converted using mid-40s 1/2 ton truck parts. The gas tank has been removed and a fresh cowl plate fabricated. Looks like a first-edition firewall – yet to be finished, no clue re the silver plates. Joe H. is dead-on re driving these vintage-style non-fendered cars – be prepared for lots of debris, water, youdontwanttaknow to be tossed back at you from open front and rear tires – plus after-drive cleanup is time-consuming as the motorcycle riders can tell you, everything left dingy under and over on this kind of ride can be seen by everyone. Still and all, it’s well-worth the effort, but not as a full-time ride, like some of my 1950s cars.

    Like 1
  7. Danny from Oz

    Got to love the rusty water leaks on the water outlets on the heads. All the Harleys in the background might be a red flag.

    Like 1
  8. Joe Haska

    Big C, not trying to offend anyone, but there was plenty of info in the ad. The best was, just read Vern Tardel’s book and you would have everything you need to know. D Scully , the reason no Torque Tube .is there is no drive shaft, I would bet with a pre -1940 floor shift transmission and an early Ford Banjo rear end, the torque tube wasn’t installed yet. How ever you comments were very factual.

    Like 0
  9. 370zpp 370zppMember

    All kinds of comments above.
    Me? I just like the photos.

    Like 0
  10. Walter

    Looks like it went for a bit over 26K. Cool car. Don’t know if it’s my cup of tea or not, I have no experience with anything like it.

    BTW it looks like the seller edited the ad a time or 2 and added info. Explains the discrepancy between the write up and some comments.

    Like 0

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