Built, Not Bought. Episode 5.
What are a father and son to do with a free weekend when Mom is away? Let’s build a car. Let’s build a rat rod. Start with a [poorly] chopped 1927 Ford Model T sedan body, purchased as an abandoned project, add 40 feet of 2X4x3/16” steel tubing in the garage, and a set of axles just laying around. This was Father’s Day weekend 2013. By Sunday night, the body was sitting on a frame and the suspension mocked up.
Our friend Eric Johnson sent the QCrew the story of his home brew T. A Rat Rod with a back seat! In Wisconsin that’s called an “Ice Cream Getter.”
The suspension is made up of a 1937 Ford front axle with split wishbones, Ford F150 rotors and a disc brake conversion kit using full size GM calipers, and the stock front mount spring. The rear suspension is a F150 9” axle, custom made brackets mounting split 1937 rear axle wishbones, panhard bar, and used 200# Koni coilovers. The driveshaft is a Kevlar wrapped aluminum unit from a Chevy pickup at the junkyard and shortened to length by a shop in Green Bay, WI.
The first build used a 350ci Chevy delivering power through a TH400 transmission. With a total $300 invested the set up, you can imagine it left a little bit to be desired. This past winter, the 350 gave away to a 472 Cadillac engine needing only a BOP to Chevy transmission adapter and new motor mounts.
The interior is sparse. An OSB plywood floor covers most of the bottom and used grease drums were cut up to make a driveshaft tunnel. The rear bench seat started life as the 3rd row seat from a Dodge Durango with the center section cropped to fit the raised driveshaft tunnel. The front seats were frames from an MG Midget which had to be narrowed about 2”. There is currently a basket weave of ratchet strap material to sit on. Seat belts are lap belts from a 5 point harness set up. The dash is nothing but an AutoMeter monster tach and a swap meet 3 gauge pod randomly bolted the dash framework. A cropped and sectioned 1953 Packard dash is in the works. Gear selections come from a Hurst floor shifter modified with an emergency brake handle from the same Corvair that supplied the steering box, taillights, rear view mirror, and steering column now with a quick release wheel adapter. The brake pedal set up is from Wilwood.
The roof has a 1×1 steel grid work for bracing and support with OSB plywood inserts for now. The front visor is a support bracket from a Ford Superduty bench seat from and the cut off ends from the rear wishbones. The fuel tank is a repurposed Guinness half barrel. To fit the 8” chopped top, a Ford Model A windshield was cut and sectioned to fit the new opening. I almost felt bad cutting up a mint, original black paint windshield frame for my rat rod, but you have to use what you have.
Though a true hot rod is never really done, it is amazing how many people don’t believe it is drivable or legal. There are constantly people stopping us, gathering at gas stations and other parking lots asking questions about the car. It is worth all the late nights and long weekends.