This bird's eye view peeking...
This bird's eye view peeking down through the opened sliding ragtop reveals a pair of gennie Ford tractor seats. Wheeltubs span the width of the body, covered by African ebony wood. Somewhere under that panel behind the rearend sits the Be Cool radiator with three electric fans and an electric water pump bringing coolant forward to the engine.
The back of the tractor seats...
The back of the tractor seats mount off a custom pedestal that incorporates an adjustable lumbar support.
A floating quartet of custom...
A floating quartet of custom Redline Gauge Works gauges designed by Jason Albert is fronted by the one-off Konocti steering wheel connected to the KSE power steering box. African black bamboo and ebony were used on both the steering wheel and the shifter, melding the body color and the interior appointments.
The KSE Sprint Car steering...
The KSE Sprint Car steering box used is a power unit that makes side-steering the sedan a breeze. The hanging pedal assembly was custom fabricated by the Konocti crew.
Power for the Konocti Special...
Power for the Konocti Special Project sedan comes in the form of a quad Weber-fed Ford FE 390ci engine. The POSIES spring is also visible, transversing the space that usually houses a radiator.
"A 40-year work in progress" may have been a suitable subtitle for the story of Maynard Albertson's '30 Ford Tudor sedan, although it would be slightly misleading, for Maynard and his crew at Konocti Motor Co. took only two short years to complete the Model A. But where the statement does ring true is in the concept behind the all-black ragtop. The idea was to build a hot rod in a style and fashion that could have been done 40 years ago. No fancy electronic fuel injection. No fancy billet, one-off wheels. Just simple, tried-and-true hot rod parts, either from the era or fashioned using techniques that were available back in the late '60s.
The story behind the Model J began two years ago when Jason Albert, general manager of Konocti Motor Co., found the sedan body in Visalia, California, and dragged it back to the Konocti shop. Maynard, a retired biologist and fellow automotive enthusiast, understood Jason's passion and gave him full reign of the Konocti facility after hours to build the sedan. Jumping headfirst into the project, Jason whacked 5 inches out of the top, and with that, the build had officially begun.
But just as Jason was reaching full sprint with his extracurricular activity, life caught up with him as he and his wife had begun to build a new house. Maynard soon saw that Jason didn't have enough hours in the day to complete both projects and offered to take on the car build as a full-time Konocti Motor Co. project.
When Maynard took over the reigns, a few minor things were changed, but the majority of Jason's original design remained intact. Joe Iacono was brought in to assist with the vision of the car and was the go-to guy for renderings and concept drawings throughout the build. The Ford 390 FE engine would still be used, the chop was perfect, the rear wheeltubs were to stay, and the suicide frontend could be facilitated, but the wheelbase would need to be shortened to clean up the design and the radiator relocated under the rear of the car. Tweaking the basic design that Jason had embarked on just a little bit, Maynard felt it necessary to give credit where credit was due-to Jason-and renamed Konocti's new special project the Model J.
The chassis under the sedan was designed especially for the Model J and was created by Konocti Motor Co. using 4130 chromoly. To get the nose of the car nice and low, Jason designed a suicide front suspension that left the car with a rather long wheelbase. Maynard liked the suicide look, but decided to move it back under the engine, thus shortening the wheelbase. This created a problem though, as the space for the radiator was dramatically reduced by the front crossmember. Their solution was simple: mount the radiator behind the Ford 9-inch rearend, slap on a few electric fans, and plumb the coolant through the framerails. Ironically, the wheeltubs Jason designed into the back of the sedan provided ample space for the Be Cool aluminum radiator.
Jason had intended to use a Ford FE engine and when Maynard took over the build, he couldn't think of a better engine for keeping with that '60s Ford vibe. A quartet of Weber 48 IDAs was installed on a Blue Thunder manifold with Accel ignition products firing the fuel. The big Ford was then mated to a BorgWarner T56 trans, giving the sedan six manually shifted, forward speeds.
Seventy-plus years of weather and abuse can take its toll on early Ford sheetmetal, but in the hands of Jason, Mike Bishop, and the rest of the Konocti crew, the Tudor sedan body was whipped into shape in no time flat. Once it was nice and straight, the chopped and channeled body was rolled into the paint booth where Mike blew a fresh coat of PPG black over the whole package. Once dry, local NorCal hero Herb Martinez added some 'striping along the beltline and the louvered rear panel.
The interior of the Model J looks rather empty, played down by the simple pair of tractor seats, but it's equally as interesting as the rest of the car. The backs of the tractor seats mount off the rear wheelwells on custom pedestals that feature an integrated lumbar support. Covering the body-wide wheelwell is a combination of African ebony and bamboo, which matches the custom shift knob and one-off steering wheel. Al's Upholstery covered the interior panels with distressed leather that was sacrificed from a pair of old sofas, while the carpet is of the closed-loop variety. Under the stock dash cap is a set of floating gauges made custom by Redline Gauge Works and designed by Konocti Motor Co.-the small gauges are housed in modified '37 Ford taillights, while the larger gauge sits in a modified '34 headlight bucket. A power KSE Sprint Car steering box mounts under the cowl, straddled by a one-off hanging pedal assembly. Above it all, a '62 VW van sliding ragtop fills the void left by the lack of a roof.
In the end, more than 300 handcrafted and engineered parts work to enhance Ford's Model A in ways that are only befitting a "special project." Maynard and his crew at Konocti Motor Co. set out to build a hot rod in a 40-year fashion, and in the end have succeeded in making a truly unique Model J.