Matt Giarratano already had a nice coupe in the garage when he decided he "wanted to know how it felt to drive and own a roadster." Now, Matt not only knows how it feels to drive and own a roadster, he knows how it feels to build one-and it's all because of this homebuilt, channeled 1929 Ford roadster pickup.
Collecting and assembling parts from the aftermarket is not a bad way to build a hot rod, but Matt took a more "old-school" approach to his project-picking up parts at swap meets as much as possible.
Matt found the '29 several years ago at the L.A. Roadsters Show swap meet-most of the bigger pieces anyway-which has row after row of raw material waiting to be turned into something cool. "At the time it was a bed, body, and the perimeter of a square tubular frame in pieces. The front cowl was a '29 and the body and doors were stretched 3 inches. As I looked at it, I started to see in my imagination how I would begin to build it. I made a deal and took it home."
Before getting after the sheetmetal that ignited the project, Matt built a custom frame from 2x4-inch tubing with round tubing for the crossmembers. "I wanted the truck to sit low-so a friend of mine, Gary Timm, helped me Z the frame a whopping 10 inches." When Matt finished work on the frame, another friend, Jack Calafato, took it to his shop to start working on the paint. Calafato painted the chassis while Matt worked on the body, swapping back and forth to move the buildup forward.
The front was further lowered using a 4-inch dropped I-beam axle from Super Bell with Mr. Roadster spindles. Matt added a transverse spring, Pro Shocks tubular shocks, and a homemade Panhard bar. A 40-inch ladder bar locates the Ford 8-inch rearend from a scrap yard '77 Granada. Matt says these 51-inch-long rearends are just the right fit for a Model A. A bolt-on Panhard and QA1 shocks wrap up the rear. The front brakes are Wilwood finned discs; Ford drums were retained in the rear. The Vega-style steering box is from Flaming River. Matt located the steel 16-gallon fuel tank in the bed.
With the chassis completed, Matt channeled the swap meet steel body 3 inches over the 'rails, and finished the exterior with a '32 Ford grille, Dietz headlights, '50 Pontiac taillights, and repro mirrors. He cut the bed 3 inches as well to maintain the proportions. "I wanted the style to look like back in the day, when they used the term 'glamorizing your hot rod,' so I came up with the idea of making some front and rear nerf bars." Chrome pieces, including the rear nerf bar crown, were finished at Equality Plating Company. The crown was a belt buckle, and a swap meet find that Matt put to better use. Calafato performed some final sheetmetal work before spraying the DuPont paint. The tan is Buckskin, a '61 Dodge color.
Chrome center caps set off the Ford Thunderbird wire wheels, painted to match the engine block and axle. Matt chose 15x7s and 15x6s, with Coker Firestone 8.90-15 and 6.70-15 bias-ply whitewalls to keep the period feel.