One of the first things you notice about this model A is the burly looking, horizontally mounted, semi-truck stacks that run below its Tudor body. There’s a good reason for that-owner Tom Hentschell wanted his latest hot rod to have a unique signature, something that would be different and also act as an attention grabber. “The plan was to have the side pipes and headers be the focal point of the car, ” said Tom, who has owned a number of attention-grabbing cars. Up until a recent visit to Hot August nights in reno, he was a corvette guy, but Tom said, “I’m not one of those concourse guys. I like to hot rod my Vettes!”
In 2000, Tom and his wife, ellen, ruised down to reno in their highly customized ’63 corvette roadster to see what Hot August nights was all about. While there, Tom became enamored with hot rods and he promptly sold the Vette and replaced it with a deuce highboy when he returned home to Tacoma. It didn’t take long before Tom was personalizing the ’32, but after attending a few rod events he noticed all the cars started to look the same, including his. Tom was used to having loud and flashy cars, so he assembled a talented team of craftsmen who shared his “dare to be different” approach to hot rod building and they created a cartoon-car-come-to-life he named the defibrillator.
The team consisted of bob “mr. Weld” biehler from olympia, Washington, larry Foss restorations from montesano, Washington, and Tom, the team leader and out-of-the-box visionary. The result was a radical, ed roth-influenced, metalflake orange, ’33 Hemi-powered three-window coupe, and the shifter and driver’s head poke through the roof just like roth’s drawings! Although it drew smiling crowds wherever it went, it was mostly a unique fairgrounds cruiser, and Tom wanted a hot rod he could drive on the highway.
So in the fall of 2004, Tom reassembled the team and together they laid down a plan to build a clean, classic-looking hot rod. “The concept was to build a reliable car that would have an old-school look that I could blast down the freeway doin’ 80 mph, ” Tom said. Where the defibrillator was wild and crazy, he wanted his new rod, the esuscitator, to be traditional and tame; “I also wanted it to be subtle and uncluttered, ” Tom added.
He started by acquiring a chopped ’29 sedan body and grille from bob biehler and delivering it to larry Foss. Biehler got busy beefing up a model A frame so it would handle the torque from the rat motor Tom intended to use for power. In the meantime, larry’s crew began the body preparation, which consisted of finishing the 4-inch chop job and installing patch panels to replace the rusted lower portions of the body. When all the parts and pieces were ready, larry doused the whole works in Plum cherry.
Tom also wanted the no-chrome look, so everything that wasn’t painted was either polished or ceramic coated. Tom also thinks holes are “hot roddy, ” so lots’a holes were tastefully incorporated into the overall look of the car. A soupedup 454ci engine was shoehorned between the radiator and the recessed firewall, and because the car was meant to be a driver, Tom explained, “We compromised with single, effi cient four-barrel carb and an electronic overdrive tranny.”
Classy and tasteful best describe the interior of the Tudor. The saddle and black vinyl combo gives an old leather appearance. The gas tank and battery are hidden behind the rear seat. For safety, larry Foss built a four-point rollbar outfitted with shoulder straps. Regarding creature comforts, Tom said, “Hot rods should have loud pipes and no radio-and air conditioning is for sissy cars!” However, he added, “my wife, ellen, did insist on a heater!”
Tom’s new hot rod was invited to the invitation-only mild to Wild car show in the Tacoma dome not long after the team finished the project in January 2007. As might be expected, the A-bone with the big pipes was a crowd pleaser and was surrounded all weekend long. But this car won’t be a static rod riding around on the back of a railer. “We’ll drive it everywhere and we’re looking forward to seeing what it will do in the quarter-mile, ” Tom said. “right now, the problem is keeping the cheater slicks stuck to the pavement!”
Rod & Custom Feature Car
1929 Ford model A Tudor
Bob “mr. Weld” bieler beefed up the stock model A ‘rails by adding boxing plates and new crossmembers. He then mounted a dropped I-beam axle, transverse spring, and hairpins up front and a four-bar/coilover suspension out back. Bilstein Shocks and a Vega steering box round out the frontend. Tom said no to chrome, so the front suspension was ceramic coated. The frame was Z’d in back and notched in front to lower the car. The narrowed 9-inch Ford rearend sports 3.50:1 gears. Brakes are disc in front and drums in back. Tom digs the look of holes on his hot rods, so the framehorns and the suspension frame supports got punched!
The resuscitator is powered by a built 450hp, 454ci big-block, fed through a demon 750-cfm carburetor topped with a ’50 buick air cleaner. A polished aluminum edelbrock manifold sits between aluminum edelbrock heads. The signature, ceramic-coated headers and side pipes took mr. Weld between 40 and 50 hours to fabricate. Even though Flowmaster Hushpower mufflers are tucked inside the 6-inch pipes, they still have a nice bark. Tom wanted the rod to be a driver, so he backed the motor with a 700-r4 overdrive.
Wheels & Tires
American Torq-Thrust classics with spokes painted a dark metallic gray to complement the rod’s Plum cherry body were used at the corners. The big ‘n’ little wheel combo helped create the subtle rake Tom was after. Rear wheels are 16s wrapped with Firestone dragster cheater slicks (10.00-16); Firestone bias-plies (5.60-14) are mounted to the 14-inch Americans up front.