Getting taken advantage of is a bitter pill to swallow, to say the least. But being taken for a ride by a shade tree mechanic usually comes with its share of hard-earned lessons and, like our 43rd president so eloquently put it, "Fool me once, shame on you. You fool me, you can't get fooled again."
Kendra Fleharty learned this lesson indeed the hard way when she bought her first California car after moving from Colorado. Being a fan of all things classic American automobilia and claiming a '66 Mustang as her first car, it seemed only natural for the newly christened Angeleno to purchase something with a little more class and history, perhaps a decade or so older. And so, following a classified ad, she found herself in Palm Springs, face to face with perhaps one of the most distinct marks of the '50s: Cadillac.
She bought the '57 and promptly proceeded to drive the doors off it, all four, until the original 365 finally gave up the ghost. Needing a rebuild, she took the Caddy to a local engine house that rebuilt the powerplant for a hefty sum. A few short weeks later, and she found herself in the same spot, with a TKO'd engine. This time, however, Kendra decided to outsmart the engine builder at his own game and, armed with a handful of manuals and books, proceeded to learn all there is to know about vintage Cadillac engines. And so, out of necessity, a hot rodder was born.
After immersing herself in all things technical in regards to the old behemoth, Kendra felt she had enough automotive understanding that it was time to tackle something a bit more complicated. So the Cadillac was put up on the chopping block to garner enough capital to buy herself what her inner hot rodding soul really desired: A genuine article '30s Ford roadster.
Now well versed, she knew better than to jump at the first hot rod that came her way and sought advice from a few local hot rodders from the Burbank Choppers. Her trouble was well earned and after a chat with Chopper member Aaron Kahan at the Los Angeles Roadster Show, she had a line on a '29 roadster for sale in Lake Elsinore, a locale slightly more elevated than the Los Angeles basin she called home, but nearby none the less.
The roadster turned out to not only be the genuine article, but it appeared that at some point someone had the mind to turn it into a lakes car by removing the inner structure of both doors and the decklid, welded up the doors, and relieved the cowl to accept a set-back engine position. The wheelwells were also cut out, most likely for an altered wheelbase setup of some sort and there were snaps around the edge of the cockpit for a tonneau cover. An Auburn dash had also been installed in place of the original Model A unit with a mysterious set of holes, intriguingly similar in dimension to those of early postwar timing tags. Unfortunately, save for the body and chassis, there were no further clues to the origins or history of the old hot rod.
But Kendra was pleased regardless of the lineage of her old roadster and soon set about repairing the damaged crossmembers and other chassis items. A Super Bell dropped I-beam axle was slung off split '40 Ford wishbones on a transverse spring with '40 Ford binders, while out back she opted for a beefy Currie 9-inch rearend located by a set of Speedway ladder bars on a similarly related spring. Rolling responsibilities were relegated to a set of 16-inch Kelsey Hayes wires wrapped in period-correct Firestone bias-ply treads.
The 390 Cad was punched out...
The 390 Cad was punched out to 401 inches before being bathed in chrome and polished accessories, including the 4x2 induction setup and HEI-converted distributor. Those are Maund air cleaners atop the polished Strombergs.
Chris Craft windshield posts...
Chris Craft windshield posts were an eBay score that fit perfectly given the fact that the cowl had been molded and the doors welded up.