Vintage Hot Rod! 1931 Ford Roadster

Hot-rodding in America wouldn’t be the same without the Ford roadster. This 1931 Ford Model A hot rod in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan seeks a new owner here on eBay after sitting behind a barn for 47 years! With its Buick “nailhead” V8, Desoto carbs, and Lincoln transmission, this roadster reminds us that folks used whatever they could find to get on down the road as quickly as possible. Thanks to reader Ikey H. for spotting this real-deal classic.

The 1950s Buick nailhead is known for smoothness and torque. I brought a ’53 Buick Roadmaster back from the dead some years ago and its (first year) nail head sprung to life and settled to a vibration-free idle in less than a minute. Even with the two-speed automatic, it moved the 5000 lb Roadmaster pretty well, so I can imagine how it would feel in this lightweight roadster with a stick-shift and 3.71 gears! In 1959 this car, pretty much as you see it today, broke into the “100 MPH Club” at Detroit Drag Way. Its sympathetic refurbishment took three years and included rebuilt or new engine, drive train, brakes, and more, making it a slice of history that can be driven and enjoyed safely. The seller mentions that the steering gearbox is a little stiff.

Though not mentioned, I believe that’s a 2×4 supporting the plywood seats, a far cry from the isolated experience of modern cars. In this home-brewed Ford, you can probably tell whether a quarter is heads or tails as you drive over it.

Those tall white-walls are one burn-out away from disintegrating into toddler-maiming rubber shrapnel, but some similar-looking replacements would look amazing. Nothing sold today will come close to the visceral experience offered by this true vintage hot rod. What’s that worth to you?


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  1. Gsuffa Gsuffa Member

    Early Lumber Support

    Like 11
    • Jaydawg7 Jaydawg7

      Lumber lumbar support.

      Like 15
      • Mike

        Lol…can you imagine the look you would have gotten if you asked the builder, as he was hack sawing the tops off the (swiped?) folding chairs, “So, what are you gonna do for lumbar support?”

        Love this car.

        Like 1
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    While I’m more of a bone-stock purist I still love an old school hotrod. This one would do just fine at my place although I would want to finish it up. Seat supports are just fine but I would do something about the seats themselves. I’m also not a fan of multiple carburetion so I would swap out the intake for something that offered a single 4bbl. I would drive and enjoy this beast…

    Like 11
  3. Bob

    How did they match up the Buick motor to the Lincoln transmission?

    Like 3
    • Steve R

      There used to be a lot of companies the specialized in adapters. I think one of the biggest was advanced adapters. Any late-50’s to early-60’s speed shop catalog will usually have one or two pages from various manufacturers.

      Steve R

      Like 16
      • BOWDN

        I remember seeing such adapters in the good ol’ JC Whitney catalogues.

        Like 7
      • Camaro guy

        Transdapt comes to mind, Ansen for another I think Speedway automotive has some also

        Like 1
      • bog

        Steve R – I think Camaro Guy “hit the nail on the head” with Transdapt & Ansen. I’m an old hot-rodder/drag racer etc, and I remember those ads. And being a Chicagoan, would even go to the JC Witney “mothership” on Archer Ave. just up the road from our Chinatown. Gone now, but guys used to do burn-outs down Archer, just blocks from a major police station. LOL !

        Like 2
    • Johnny L.

      Easy, machine a plate between the two to match up and bolt together and weld a new bolt patern on the lincoln torque converter.

      Like 1
      • Camaro guy

        I think their referring to a Lincoln/Zephyr manual trans heavier duty then the Ford transmissions of the day I doubt that’s an automatic transmission in that car

    • Pete

      Hurst bellhousing back in the day .they were in pa and you could get any bellhousing for hemis ‘olds”pontiac.we ran them at Hatfield dirt track .

      Like 3
  4. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Cool Triumph bobber hidden in pic 14.

    Like 1
    • Jaydawg7 Jaydawg7

      It’s also for sale under SELLER’S OTHER ITEMS on the Ebay account.

      Like 1
  5. KevinLee

    The rear tire description was the first LOL
    I’ve had all day. Thanks Todd!😂

    Like 9
  6. TimM

    Love the car and a Buick nailhead was the motor in its day!! The seats have to go though!!! That is if I would want to walk after I got out of it!!!

    Like 7

    Some WWII bomber seats would go well in here.

    Like 8
  8. Bob S

    He doesn’t want much, only $26,000 (smirk). If someone wants to buy nostalgia, they could find a better car at a better price than that.
    I love the Buick, the Lincoln transmission, and the 2×4. The rest of the parts could be used to build a nice real rod.

    Like 3
  9. bobhess bobhess Member

    Might be a guess but if you were building a serious big engine hot rod back in those days you wanted a Lincoln Zephyr 3 speed or ’39 la Salle. Both would handle tons of power. We used one of the La Salles behind one of our Olds powered Studebaker coups. Slick old rod. Maybe a little high on the price for the condition but still slick. Steve… in the ’60s and ’70s you could get adapters to put a Hemi on a toilet. Everything was available.

    Like 14
  10. Mike

    The seat cushions look to be floor mats!! Bomber seats would definitely be an upgrade.

  11. moosie moosie

    I’m thinking that Ansen was a real big name for adapters for just about any combination of motor, trans. in any number of different cars, Ansen, among many others. this is a neat old style hot rod and needs to be kept exactly as it is right now. Maybe just a bit of refinement to the seats.

    Like 4
  12. Chuck

    Back then, (40’s, 50’s, 60’s) JC Whitney had about 6 pages of adapter kits where you could put just about any engine / transmission combination into any vehicle. It was basically just a bolt in process with very little fabrication required. They were founded‎ in ‎Chicago, IL, in 1915.

    Like 4
  13. Chuck

    I really like a dual quad set-up on a V-8. Synchronize the primary’s on both carbs to open together, and the runner length to each cylinder is just about the same. With a 3X2V or a 4V, the runners are all different lengths. With a 3X2V manifold, the center cylinders get plenty of fuel, and the end ones starve. With a 4V, the front 6 cylinders get plenty of fuel, but the back 2 starve. You also get quicker engine response with a dual quad set-up with the primary’s locked together, because when you hit the throttle, you have 2 accelerator pumps working, and 4 venturis opening together, you eliminate engine hesitation too. This set-up worked very well on my 289, which was a daily driver.

    Like 7
    • Camaro guy

      Very good explanation not many people have a good understanding of multiple carburators anymore

      • Chuck

        Thanks for the nice compliment. I’m old school, I read spark plugs, jet carburetors, bend distributors, use a vacuum gauge, road time an engine, timing light, etc. No computers for me. Anybody can set an engine up with a computer. Hands on separates the men from the boys! I put shift kits in auto transmissions, and adjust shift points by adjusting the modulator valve. You can learn in school, but nothing beats greasy hands!

        Like 3
    • bog

      Chuck – loved reading your comments. My Dad taught me by the greasy hands method. He made me (no joke) buy a ’50 Ford when I was 12 with my own savings from my paper routes and other jobs. Best hundred bucks I ever spent. He then showed me how to do all the things to restore all the mechanical things on the entire car. I pulled and rebuilt entire engine, put in new clutch, drained rear, new u-joints, rebuilt brakes after bleeding, new wires where necessary, gapped plugs and points…etc & etc. I got to drive it around the grounds of the plant he worked at when it was done. Sadly, we moved to California less than six months later and my car had to be sold. Never forgot those lessons. Wish I still had a large garage to “tinker” with a pre-smog car…older the better.

      Like 1
  14. John S

    Time warp! Though the price is rather high, this thing is COOL! To change it other than freshening up would be a shame. I like that it comes with history, pictures, trophies, signs, etc….

    Like 1
  15. Del

    Has some soul and provenance but not worth starting bid even.

    Like 1
  16. bog

    This car is amazing. Brings me back to early pre-teen and teenage years of a variety of hot rod magazines culminated in me actually working on cars and going to US 30 (now “retired” for housing developments ???) Drag Strip. Looks like this rod had a push bar just below the trunk that’s been lost along with the roll bar. Hey, it even comes with slicks, so no “chunks of rubber shrapnel thrown at innocents” unless they’re ancient too…LOL !

    Like 1
  17. Morley

    Best Car here, why because it has a Buick. Best hot rod motor ever, narrow , light weight and with straight up valve covers so cool. I want it. Morley

    Like 2
  18. Mike

    I’ve been a Ford guy, my whole life. Today, is the first time, I have ever heard, that a “top loader” was introduced in 1937…well what do you know…interesting ride. Nailhead was a good choice.

  19. Camaro guy

    Think it was meant to be top shifter not top loader

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