Brian Paul’s wife, Ann, thought her husband had lost his mind when he traded their recently finished ’63 Chevy Bel Air custom for a 1929 Ford sedan that wasn’t! What Brian saw was huge potential in the tricked-out Ford that was running around in primer and had to make the trade. Switching horses midstream worked for Brian. He put his finishing touches on his ’29 and won his class at the 2011 Detroit Autorama and took home the STREET RODDER Driven Award, presented by Lokar Performance.
Brian was born into hot rodding, with his father a member of the Michigan Hot Rod Association. Brian’s Ford was originally started by Joe Lutz at Hot Rod Dynamics in Lenoir, North Carolina. Lutz had decided to build a street rod with a chassis, suspension, and body frame designed on Solidworks CAD software. Lutz was working as an R&D engineer for Roush Yates Racing engines while designing the street rod on his lunch hour, then searching for obsolete parts on the Internet at night. The chassis was designed for driveability, the front wheels are pushed out in front of everything. You could drive this car up a curb without touching the framehorns. The chassis is an underslung design to get the car low but still provide road clearance. The framehorns were cut and formed to match a stock Model A framehorn but flipped upside down and located under the drilled ’46 Ford axle. It’s an old Indy car–style pull rod and rocker arm suspension with Aldan Eagle adjustable inboard coilovers. The rear axle is a Chevy 12-bolt with a 3:55 gears and located with a pair of real 48-inch NASCAR truck arms that were used at Bristol and somehow wound up on this ’29 along with a Panhard bar, coil springs, and Monroe Gasmatic shocks.
Brian Paul gets credit for...
Brian Paul gets credit for hammering out his own bomber-style seats then “padding” was added via leather seat cushions.
The front and rear brakes are aluminum 12-inch Buick 45-fin drums with Wilson Welding backing plates. The rear brakes have custom 3/4-ton truck backing plates with their finned drums. A Wilwood triple master cylinder clutch and brake pedal assembly is tucked into the ’29 footwell.
The Vintage Schroeder sprint car steering box and column are must-have items, while Lutz fabricated the steering rod and drilled-out steering arm. The chassis rolls on four red powdercoated Vintage wheels measuring 16x4 Artillery wheels with 16x4.5 Firestone Deluxe Champion bias-ply front tires. In back, 16x8 rear wheels with 16x8.5 Firestone dragster cheater slicks are in use.
The ’56 DeSoto Hemi sports...
The ’56 DeSoto Hemi sports a genuine article ’56 Caddy air cleaner riding atop of an Edelbrock four-barrel that sits atop a stock intake feeding a Clay Smith cam. Lutz made the headers.
After searching the Internet, Lutz came across a ’56 330 DeSoto S-24 Hemi (rare factory 4 bbl) in Detroit. The owner of the engine explained that the old Hemi had been used in a Chris Craft wooden speed boat, but was pulled out to be freshened up many years ago. The engine was rebuilt and then put on a shelf to collect dust for years to come. When Lutz got the engine, he went over it, filled up with oil, primed the oil pump, lubed the cylinders, and fired it up. It ran fine, but sounded too stock. So he pulled the engine, pulled the cam, and sent it to Clay Smith Cams for a regrind. He didn’t recall the specifics, but Lutz told them what he was doing with it and that the requirements were it needed to rattle the windows and piss off the neighbors. The engine got new-style rear main seal and a double roller timing chain along with a new oil pump. The 3/8-inch laser cut header flanges were designed by Lutz. The 1-5/8-inch primary tubes are from a Schoenfeld header kit for a small-block Ford sprint car. The tubes were used on the opposite sides they were meant for and a few tubes needed to be modified. The stock iron manifold has been powdercoated, and there’s an Edelbrock ASV 650-cfm carb under the ’56 Cadillac air cleaner.
People said it would be impossible to get a five-speed trans in the small confines of a ’29 Ford. Through the use of a Hot Heads adapter that matched the T5 to the Hemi and implementing a Camaro shifter, the package fits neatly within the Model A. Lutz used a Carolina Clutch with a Tilton Hydraulic throw-out bearing.
The Mooneyes silver metalflake...
The Mooneyes silver metalflake wheel matches the sedan’s DuPont Argent Silver body color.
The sedan came as a basket case and upon closer examination Lutz realized there were a lot of bondo and pop rivets! He channeled the body 3 inches over the frame. With the framerails being 4 inches tall it left 1 inch of the framerail below the bottom of the body. The top was chopped 5 inches. Almost all of the sheetmetal from the belt line down was rusted away so it was replaced by custom panels, eliminating the factory inner fender area and making way for the extreme rear drop over the rear axle. Speed holes were drilled in the visor and lower rear panel. The Model A taillights are frenched high up on the body by the rear window. The spacious sliding ragtop roof was a universal kit Lutz ordered from Sunway Sliding Rag Tops. Lutz kept the cowl tank. He cut out the bottom of the tank, cleaned it out, then welded it back together using gas tank sealer. The ’29 grille is channeled into the ’rails and it contains a custom aluminum radiator with an electric fan. The headlights were one of the changes Brian made to the car once he got it. He put a set of stainless steel King Bee headlights with internal turn signals.
Original ’54 Desoto speedo...
Original ’54 Desoto speedo rests within an Appleton spot case—unusual and clever treatment that really works. The remainder of the gauges came from the same DeSoto while the start button came from a One Player vintage pinball game.
The car won Goodguys pick at the Run to the Sun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Lutz’s ’29 got so much attention that he started getting asked to build for other people. This car led to Lutz’s current business Hot Rod Dynamics.
Danny Hooper and Lutz worked out a deal swapping Hooper’s Deuce for Lutz’s ’29. Hooper put about 3,000 miles on the ’29 when he saw Brian Paul’s ’63 Chevy Bel Air custom. Hooper and Brian saw each other’s cars and another trade ensued. Brian thought he could get the ’29 finished the way he wanted and take a shot at winning his class at the Detroit Autorama, and as the saying goes, “The rest is history.”
The top sports a 5-inch chop...
The top sports a 5-inch chop to go along with the 3-inch channel.
The interior was covered with jute and Dynamat, and Brian and his friend Steve Mudge redid the wiring with an EZ wire harness. The interior panels were fabricated by Brian and covered gray vinyl with plush gray carpeting covering the floor and back seat area. Brian fabbed up a set of aluminum bomber-style seats and had leather seat cushions made with stitching to match the pinstriping by Willies Work Shop in Port Huron, Michigan. The steering wheel was swapped out for a Mooneyes silver metalflake wheel that matches the DuPont Argent Silver paint on the sedan. The dash is filled with gauges from the ’54 DeSoto donor car. The ’54 Desoto speedometer is mounted in an old Appleton spotlight. The engine start button is a One Player button from an old pinball game. The dash is beautifully pinstriped along with the rest of the car and vintage cooler by Greg Bock of Brush by Bock in New Baltimore, Michigan. Glen Vierheilig sprayed the beautiful two-tone Argent silver and matte black paint. Greg Bock’s work on the car is tasteful and understated; Brian really knew what he wanted and Bock nailed it. The stock iron intake manifold and headers along with most of the powdercoated items were done by QC Coatings in Township of Shelby, Michigan. Brian added chrome trim rings to the wheels and finished the firewall in a checkered flag pattern. Brian and his friends, Steve, Glen, Larry, and Tony, worked on this car until the night before Autorama. The last minute thrash is one of those hot rodding stories that Brian will remember for the rest of his life. Now you know the rest of the story.
The front axle is a drilled...
The front axle is a drilled ’46 Ford that rests beneath the Model A flipped framehorns, giving an underslung appearance and treatment. Reminiscent of an old Indy car, the front suspension is based on Aldan Eagle adjustable coilovers mounted inboard and operate in a “pull rod and rocker arm suspension.”
Forward you will find (12-inch)...
Forward you will find (12-inch) Buick 45-fin drums with Wilson Welding backing plates. Note the bumpstops on the top of the framehorns to cushion should the I-beam axle bottom out.