Most folks can remember when something big happened in their life, but sometimes those imprinted moments can be with you for longer than you can remember. For 47-year-old Tim Brown, from El Cajon, California, he can't remember a time when he wasn't around old Fords. His dad, Ed, was into Model Ts and Model As, and he'd take young Tim to swap meets looking for vintage car parts. This was in the time well before craigslist (or even the computer age), back when you had to have blind luck in stumbling across some parts laid out on the ground at a football stadium parking lot some Sunday morning.
Old-timey pinstriping was laid down by Mark Lueck. The flip-top gas filler cap connects to
Though Tim went through a Volkswagen phase earlier in life (that included raising, lowering, and restoring them), it wasn't until he started hanging out at the local Goodguys Show in Del Mar, California, that he got the itch to build a hot rod. Tim thought starting off with a '32 would be nice, but he liked dirt racing, too, so combining the dirt aspect with hot rods yielded a specialized hot rod: a dirt track-inspired '27 Ford Modified.
Almost three decades ago Ed sold all of his Model Ts to finance the restoration of his '30 roadster, and the only T-related parts he kept were a set of old, purple-tinted headlight lenses. The vintage lenses were the inspiration Tim was looking for, and he decided to build his T the way a kid might have long ago. The pair found a '27 roadster that was already built as a base to work from, but its look was basic and without much imagination.
The pair tore into the car and took it down to the frame to begin its rebirth. There was a list of "must-have" parts, including a healthy Flathead, a quick-change rear, and, as Tim's transmission guy, Jim Rupe, told him: "Ya gotta run a '39 Lincoln Zephyr trans in the car for a true old-school look." Tim then set about getting those items and more.
One of the best things about having a Flathead in a hot rod is the sound it makes at idle
The chassis started with a handmade 2x3 box frame, powdercoated at ECP Powder Coating in El Cajon, California, and set up on a 115-inch wheelbase. Tim's brother, Phil, helped out when it came to the rear suspension, a Winters quick-change (4.85:1) was located and installed along with a pair of QA1 coilover shocks. Up front a '47 I-beam, dropped 4 inches, was used, as were '47 Ford backing plates and '61 Buick drums. Both the front and rear received radius rods that were modified '47 Ford units, and a 12-gallon polyethylene gas tank was added to the frame just forward of the rearend. Each corner got Ford spoke wheels (16-inch up front, 15-inch out back); the 16s were wrapped in 5.00 Firestone ribbed tires while the backs were shod in P23575R15s.
Mike Herman at H&H Flathead Motors in La Cresenta, California, was given the task of breathing life into the project in the form of a stout Flathead V-8, and he assembled a 258 incher from a 59AB block. A 3.75-inch crank and Ross pistons were used, as were Manley valves and Isky 185 springs. Feeding the motor are a pair of Stromberg 97 carbs atop an Edelbrock Super Dual intake, and Edelbrock was also tapped for the heads, which feature Rajah ends on red spark plug wires. Other engine goodies include a four-core radiator that was cut down to fit in the track nose and Lakes-style headers.
The body to the project is a 'glass unit from Speedway Motors, though the aluminum hood was rolled at Direct Sheet Metal in El Cajon. Best Auto Body & Painting (also in El Cajon) painted the roadster a shade of Cabernet, which was soon followed by graphics and pinstriping from Mark Lueck. The headlights (with those purple lenses) were fitted to original '27 buckets that were modified to use halogen bulbs, and out back '39 Ford taillights were installed.
Inside the cockpit a '39 DeLuxe banjo-type wheel features a pad/cushion (just like in the early dirt track cars) and four Stewart Warner gauges were set into an aluminum dash insert. Mike Jones at El Cajon Auto Trim built the bench seat before covering it and the rest of the interior with tan Naugahyde.