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.
Given her earlier penchant for and knowledge of Cadillac Motor Cars, it seemed a natural to drop in an engine of similar pedigree to which her hot rodding heritage was born. She found a 390ci engine from a '62 and turned it over to a knowledgeable engine builder she had met since her initial fiasco, Fernando Alonso, who raised the displacement to 401 cubes. An Isky cam was slipped in during the rebuild and the assembled short-block was then topped off with a 4x2 Edelbrock intake with four Stromberg 97 carbs. The original points distributor was converted by Davis Unified Ignition to electronic ignition and a set of custom lakes-style headers were, among other items, fabricated by Jimmy White at Circle City Hot Rods. The Cad was then mated via a Four C's-prepped B&M TH350 transmission and a '62 T-bird driveshaft to the Currie rear.
Working with the original sheetmetal at hand, Kendra opted to leave the doorskins welded to the body and further exaggerated the seamless lines by installing a vintage Chris Craft windshield that wrapped around the cowl and flowed into the doors. With minimal bodywork necessary, she then sprayed the body in Rustoleum Black and the contrasting components in PPG Baltic Blue. Inside the cockpit, the Auburn dash was also retained, filled with vintage Stewart-Warner Blue Line gauges. Kendra found that a Flat-Four VW banjo steering wheel closely mimicked the early Ford styling and fit a '42 Ford horn button to mate the VW wheel to her Ford.
While the popular perception when a girl is seen driving a hot rod is to assume that her husband, boyfriend, or father built the car, either for her or himself, make no mistake, this is a hot rod built by a girl who did all the homework and knows the history as well as, if not better than, most of the younger guys in the scene today. She's paid her dues in blood, sweat, and tears, just like the rest of us, even more so in some cases. So if you see a black and blue '29 roadster chewing up your tail in the rearview mirror, do us all a favor and ease over into the right lane, as Kendra not only has a determined mind but a lead foot. And we won't even mention the Hemi-powered '34 Ford five-window drag car she's building because you guys would just get jealous.
A Flat Four VW wheel was borrowed...
A Flat Four VW wheel was borrowed and mated to the Ford column, along with a horn button from a '42 Ford.
The interior of the '29 is...
The interior of the '29 is just as a hot rod need be: nice and simple.
The Auburn dash had been flipped...
The Auburn dash had been flipped around and installed before Kendra purchased the car, but those Blue Line Stewart-Warner gauges and accessory knobs were an addition all her own.
Taillights are '49-51 Ford...
Taillights are '49-51 Ford backup lights with red tinted lenses. The rear nerf bars are an influence brought over from dry lakes and drag cars, both of which Kendra has an affinity for.
Here's the car as Kendra found...
Here's the car as Kendra found it back in 2003. The doors had already been welded up and the skins removed. Check out the pushbar and number on the door, possibly hinting at the Ford's past life.002-009
Polished gennie E&J headlights...
Polished gennie E&J headlights and friction shocks maintain the traditional hot rod vibe while a dropped Super Bell axle adds a little bit of contemporary convenience that a new axle can provide.
Facts & Figures
Valley Village, California
1929 Ford channeled roadster
|Frame / Manufacturer ||1929 Ford |
|Wheelbase ||104" |
|Modifications ||boxed, rear z'd 7" |
|Rearend / Ratio ||Currie 9" (Anaheim, CA) / 3.50:1 |
|Rear suspension ||Speedway Motors (Lincoln, NE) ladder bars, Model A transverse spring |
|Rear brakes ||Ford drum |
|Front suspension ||Super Bell (Peculiar, MO) dropped axle, split '40 Ford wishbones, transverse spring |
|Front brakes ||M/T Car Products (Paradise, CA) |
|Steering box ||Ford F-100 |
|Front wheel make, size ||Kelsey Hayes, 16x4" |
|Rear wheel make, size ||Kelsey Hayes, 16x4" |
|Front tire make, size ||Firestone ribber dirt track, 16-500 |
|Rear tire make, size ||Firestone Deluxe Champion, 750x16 |
|Gas tank ||spun aluminum 11-gallon |
|Make ||1962 Cadillac |
|Displacement ||401ci |
|Machining / Assembly ||Fernando Alonso (Los Angeles, CA) |
|Camshaft ||Isky Racing Cams (Gardena, CA) |
|Radiator ||Mattson's (Stanton, CA) |
|Manifold / Induction ||Edelbrock 4x2 / Stromberg 97s |
|Ignition / Wires ||converted to electronic by Dave's small-body HEI's (Yerington, NV) |
|Headers ||Jimmy White / Circle City Hot Rods (Orange, CA) |
|Make ||B&M GM TH350 |
|Trans mods ||Four C's (Santa Fe Springs, CA) |
|Driveshaft ||Wenco (Van Nuys, CA) |
|Body style / Material ||roadster / steel |
|Body manufacturer ||Ford |
|Body mods ||doors welded shut, door and trunk skins removed, channeled 4" |
|Grille ||'32 Ford chopped from Vintique (Orange, CA) |
|Bodywork ||owner |
|Paint type / Color ||PPG / Black Rustoleum |
|Painter ||owner |
|Headlights / Taillights ||E&J / '49-51 Ford backup lights |
|Dashboard ||Auburn |
|Insert / Gauges ||Auburn / Stewart-Warner Blue Line |
|Steering wheel ||Flat Four banjo wheel |
|Steering column ||Ford F-100 |
|Upholsterer ||owner |
|Material / Color ||vinyl / black |
|Carpet ||black w/silver flake Trinidad |