In case you haven’t noticed the Model T is back and it’s back in a big way. Well, OK, maybe it is no real threat to the Deuce, but we are seeing more of these cars again. The Model T had pretty much gone the way of a phone booth-nearly extinct. Of course the fact the Model T and a phone booth share a lot of styling elements is fairly obvious, but while the phone booth is no doubt doomed, the Model T coupes and sedans are enjoying a revival of sorts.
What brought about this renaissance is not perfectly clear, but the rat rod movement was no doubt a contributor to the square car resurgence. After all, whack the top a half-foot, channel it another half-foot and there was a wicked profile and still enough glass to see the outside world. Now none of this was lost on Paul Duval, a longtime street rodder from Hendersonville, North Carolina. As a matter of fact, when he purchased this coupe it was a running rat rod that had two things he was looking for: a Flathead engine and an attitude.
Plan A was to simply clean things up a bit, remove some of the clutter, like side-mounted spare tires, and simply enjoy the car in all its patina glory. Ah, but the best laid plans of street rodders often go awry and when it was suggested that the top was a bit too tall there was but one cure. The roof was deftly cut 6 inches in the front and a mere 4 inches in the rear. This great hot rod roof rake amplified the attitude of the coupe and of course talk then turned to the fact that maybe, just maybe, this car was way too cool to be left in an unfinished state. The good news is you can take the body off the frame on a fenderless car in no time.
So the Model T coupe underwent a complete rebuild with attention to detail and attitude dealt with in equal portions. In keeping with Henry’s legendary wishes the car remains black, although it should be noted that prior to 1913 and at the end of the Model T production, the Model T was in fact available in several other colors, including green, gray, and red. We’d like to think ol’ Henry would approve of both the color choice and the powerplant in this particular hot rod.
The coupe rests on an interesting frame. The centersection is original Model T, with a box tubing front and rear clip added by Custom Works by Michael in Bostic, North Carolina. The hot rod chassis blends the 2×4 box tubing that is Z’d front and rear with the stock centersection in such a way that is appears to be all box tubing. Up front a Pete & Jakes dropped-and-drilled axle holds Wilwood disc brakes and receives directions from a Unisteer rack-and-pinion steering system, while a traditional transverse spring and tube shocks smooth out the highway.
Out back a Ford 8-inch rear holds 3.53 final gears and is located via a contemporary four-bar arrangement with coilover shocks providing adjustable ride height suspension. Rolling stock for the coupe comes in the form of The Wheelsmith 16-inch wire wheels fitted with Coker Firestone bias-ply whitewall tires that are sized 6.00-16 front and 7.50-16 rear. Spinning those big 7.50 rears is a task handled by a nicely warmed-over Flathead. By 1953 the Mercury Flathead V-8 was displacing 255 ci and producing 125 hp; 1953 would also be the last year of the venerable Flathead engine. The engine was in such good condition that it still displaces the original 255 ci. Paul had Bridges Auto Parts handle the machining of the internal parts. The stock rods, pistons, and crankshaft are now balanced and an Isky 3/4 cam lifts the valves in the block. The water pumps are from Speedway Motors and the engine is topped off with as set of finned aluminum heads from Offenhauser. An Offenhauser intake holds a trio of Stromberg 94s while Speedway Motors supplied the ignition. A set of Sanderson headers completes the high-performance street Flathead. Greg Deal of Morganton, North Carolina, handled the final engine assembly. The end result is a sweet-running flat motor that passes power back through a Tremec five-speed transmission coupled to the Flathead with an Honest Charlie bellhousing. This combination allows the little coupe to motor on effortlessly at highway speeds.
With the chassis completed attention was turned to the body. As we mentioned earlier it was determined that there was all-together too much glass in the coupe so it was taken to Custom Works by Michael where Michael Blanton handled the body mods. What we find refreshing about the coupe is the restraint used in the overall build. The stock door handles and hinges are still in place and while the firewall has been smoothed it remains body color. One subtle change that often goes unnoticed is the abbreviated sunvisor. When the panels were laser straight the DuPont Chroma Premier black paint was laid down by John Smith. Mark Peters gave the body and chassis that final touch of detail with some of the finest pinstriping you’ll find anywhere.
Inside the coupe is pure ’50s with a black and white checker pattern that works well with the pure and simple hot rod. The marine grade leather and Bentley cut pile carpet were handled by James Auto Upholstery in Fletcher, North Carolina. The steering column is from LimeWorks combined with a genuine ’27 Model T steering wheel and Stewart Warner gauges in a finned aluminum panel monitor the flat motor. Air conditioning in the coupe is an elaborate three-stage system involving separate driver and passenger side temperature settings. Crank down the left window to cool the driver, crank down the passenger window for co-pilots, and when full cooling is required crank both windows and the windshield, it’s a system that is both “green” and effective!
What Paul and Krishna Duval had envisioned as a basic beater in vintage patina became a fully detailed traditional hot rod. The transformation has made the T coupe a real crowd pleaser and the good news is the car is still a driver; it just looks better going down the road.
Image by HotelArizonaHD from Pixabay