When there were far fewer people around, far fewer laws and regulations, when the legal speed limit was 75 mph, when gas was cheap, when driving was a pleasure, if you owned a hot machine you could point the grill down an empty road and go!

Al Drake's A-V8

In February 21, 1951 I bought my first car, a '29 Ford roadster with a '36 Ford V-8 engine and transmission. I had had my eye on the car for weeks; it was parked on the sidewalk across the street from the Oregon Theater, where I worked. Before work I'd often walk over and look at the car, and while there was much I didn't know about cars I could recognize a few things. It was full-fendered, with wells in the front fenders for spare tires. It had a 1939 Ford dash, genuine red leather interior, with rolls and pleats on the seat, dual pipes and a chopped top. It had solid side panels (good) which had been opened up with three tapered, half-round pieces on each side (bad) to let the engine chrome heat out. The chrome grill seemed to be a combination of Chrysler and Packard pieces. Someone had added metal to the lower edges of the front and rear fenders, behind the tires, so that the fenders resembled 1933-34 Ford fenders. The title indicated that the car originated in California. Years later I realized that the work had been done circa 1935-36, which was when a guy would want his Model A fenders to look like later Ford fenders.

Of course I got rid of the front fenders, grill, hood and dashboard as soon as I could. I wanted to get rid of the General Jumbo wheels too (they're worth big bucks today). I would now have left the car the way it was, but I wanted my hot rod to look like the car I'd seen in magazines. I had ideas but my father had the knowledge and ability to carry out my ideas. I bought a perfect 1932 Ford grill and shell, and a used '32 radiator. My father took the dashboard from a 1940 Ford and fitted it to the Model A.

My father traded a bulldozer blade for a 1937 Ford coupe with a worn-out 1949 Ford engine. We completely rebuilt that engine: bored .040, new rod, main and cam bearings, reground valves with Johnson adjustable tappets, new 10" clutch and pressure plate, the works! I bought a new Edmunds dual intake manifold for $37.50, which was half the price of the complete car. Plating was cheap and I had quite a few things chromed, including the oil filter, generator, cut out, etc. The engine was red, with chrome acorn nuts, water hoses and air cleaners and it looked lovely and ran great
A local sheet metal shop made the pieces below the body (my father's idea) and a nice three-piece hood. We had the car running by mid-June, 1951 and painted it red in the driveway. It was nicely finished, with paint and upholstery, and was much nicer than many of the hot rods on the street. I'm still amazed that we got the car finished in five months. I don't know where we got the money: I earned 50 cents an hour at the theater, and my father took home only $50 a week from the service station.
Copyright 2008, Albert Drake and Flat Out Press.

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