By the time Paul Howard of West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, was ready to enter high school, he was a regular at the Elm Square Pharmacy where he would buy countless "little pages," studying what was happening in the world of hot rodding. Knowing that his parents believed hot rods were the Devil's handiwork, he would stash his magazine collection under his mattress. While letting them believe he was doing homework, he was really absorbing everything he could from countless features and tech articles; everything from Bonneville to the dry lakes.
When he got his license, Paul already had some of the parts to build his first hot rod: a '34 Ford pickup. While the sheetmetal left a lot to be desired (with signature East Coast deterioration), it had a strong flathead and more than enough attitude to wake the neighbors whenever he hit the local streets.
After graduating from high school, Paul enlisted in the Air Force and began work as an aircraft mechanic. While home on leave, he purchased a stock '30 Model A roadster, which served as his transportation for many years. After completing his tour, he met his wife Marge, settled down, and started a family. As life moved on, he sold his cars but never forgot his roots in hot rodding.
Flashing forward to 1990, Paul received a call from an old friend who offered him a complete flathead drivetrain freshly plucked from an old Ford that was getting modernized. Harkening back to his youth this was the jump start he'd been waiting for: to finally have a chance to build the hot rod of his dreams. Suddenly his years of reading and studying books by Don Montgomery became real and his passion for the prewar-styled, lakes-influenced Model A roadster was about to come to life. Paul just so happened to have a mint '31 Ford frame, which had been stored in his parents' basement for decades. This would act as a perfect base for the project. Wasting no time, he prepared a list of needed parts and began to scour local swap meets while also networking with friends, like Brian Foley, to locate everything to build the rolling chassis. Working in his small home garage, Paul began the fabrication and assembly process, beginning with the frontend. Wanting the car to be a study in simplicity, he expertly matched a '32 Ford axle with a '34 Ford wishbone and '40 Ford spindles combined with a '32 Ford spring and Pete and Jakes shocks. Out back, a '39 Ford rearend spinning 3.78:1 gears was secured into place along with split '39 Ford 'bones. Using a Model A spring minus a few leafs and Pete and Jakes shocks keeps everything grounded while '40 Ford brakes at the corners ensure plenty of stopping power. To maintain the classic look, the chassis rolls on a set of original Ford steelies sized 16x4 in front and 16x5 in back wrapped with Coker Firestone bias-ply piecrust tread; 4.50 fore and 7.00 aft.
Hoping to cover thousands of miles with the car once completed, Paul enlisted Walt DuPont to handle the flathead V-8 build. Starting with a '41 Ford block, Walt machined it to 239 ci and began to fill it with all the right stuff, including an 8BA crank and rods, 8:1 slugs, and a Literio L-100 stick. He then topped it with Edelbrock finned aluminum heads, and made sure there was plenty of deep breathing, thanks to a Thickstun PM-7 intake topped with a pair of Holley 94-series carbs. Headers from Patrick's matched up with exhaust fashioned from '36 Ford driveshaft tubes, which lets the engine exhale a hearty note since there are no mufflers. The transmission is the only concession to anything modern via a Borg Warner T5 coupled to a vintage shift handle while a custom driveshaft by Cape Cod Axle & Driveshaft provides the final link.
Living in the rust belt, there was a slim chance Paul would find a decent body to work with, so he contacted Brookville Roadster to order one of their '31 Ford roadster bodies. Once it was fitted to the chassis, he had Russell Daly chop the windshield and top 3 inches to give the car a signature look. After the hood top was louvered by Roy Idman the car was disassembled and sent over to Coffey's Hot Rod & Custom to work their magic and massage everything to perfection. With the bodywork completed, Bob Coffey laid down a lustrous coating of DuPont black gloss followed by Alex Olivera who lettered the doors and pinstriped the car. To complete the interior, Paul built a custom bench seat, which he covered with a LeBaron Bonney red vinyl pleated material. The Model A dash was filled with stock gauges while a simple underdash panel houses Stewart Warner instruments. A '39 Ford steering wheel sets the path while a '37 Chevrolet heater keeps the confines of the interior cozy for those early morning starts. Completing the car is a bitchin' top in black cloth by Fred Carello.
Paul's wife Marge gets plenty of credit for all of her support throughout the build making sure that the project never got stalled. To date Paul has accumulated over 50,000 miles on his roadster. When asked what his finest moment with the car was thus far, he quickly responded telling us about his road trip to Bonneville in 2008 with the Rolling Bones for the 60th anniversary of Speed Week. Talk about living the dream.
A '68 Ford Mustang steering box, with cut down Pitman arm, peeks out from beneath the stoc
Walt DuPont machined the '41 block and filled it with a Ford 8BA crank, rods, and 8:1 pist
A '39 Ford steering wheel rests on a '50 Dodge column. A SW tach nestles between the conne
A combination of stock and Stewart Warner gauges are used in the Model A panel.
With keeping warm, a '37 Chevrolet heater kills the chill on cold mornings.