Father’s Day is extra special for hot rod dads here on the Best Coast. The L.A. Roadsters put on one heck of a shindig for us dads. It’s called the L.A. Roadsters Show, and as the name suggests, this two-day gathering showcases some of the best—no, make it the best—hot rod roadsters in the country.
And it was during this year’s topless gathering at the Pomona Fairplex that we spotted Pachi Bengochea’s timeless ’29 highboy. We say timeless because if this all-steel car were transported back 60-something years to Muroc or one of the other legendary dry lake beds, it would fit right in with the party. That is, until someone popped open the Rootlieb hood, and there, plain as day, they’d see a small-block Chevy. Well, the motor’s cylinders aren’t so small because the engine has been bored and stroked to 383 ci, but let’s put a lid on the engine for the time being so we can admire the car’s timeless lines and proportions.
But before we do that, Pachi explains how most of the tinware, hardware, and speedware on this hot rod are post-war (as in World War II) stuff. Some notable exceptions include the big ’39 Lincoln brakes, ’40 Ford split wishbones, and the Model A buggy spring. Pausing to think for a moment, Pachi adds: “The door pull-knobs and the license plate are authentic 1929 items.”
In truth, the squeaky-clean Squeak Bell ’32 frame was originally intended for a ’30 coupe that Pachi bought on his 30th birthday. Pachi, with the help of his father, Dave, pinched the framerails and installed crossmembers to match the coupe’s body. “I had the chassis done, and I was ready to chop the top (on the coupe) when I ran into a deal on a (Model A) roadster,” he tells us. Even though we need no further explanation, Pachi adds: “The roadster was my dream car.” No apologies necessary, Pachi. Many of us share that same dream.
Power is the traditional-modern Chevy V-8 punched to 383 inches and outfitted with Barry G
It wasn’t just any Model A roadster body, either. The fresh tin had the word Brookville stamped on it, so there was no rust or other accumulated caustic calluses to clean up, although there was some squaring to the frame required before assembly. “I had to add an inch on each side of the cowl, and I pulled the fenderwells to fit the frame,” Pachi told us.
When Pachi was satisfied with the fit, he delivered the body to Santa Rosa Collision and Custom where Parker Arrien, Quinn Norcutt, and Jim Fitzgerald prepped the metal so that Arrien could squirt it with the single-stage black paint. “I didn’t get the hood and deck back until Tuesday before the roadster show,” Pachi says, “and I mounted them Wednesday and left for Pomona on Thursday morning.” That’s cutting it close, especially considering that his trip started in beautiful downtown Winnemucca, Nevada.
And while Pachi waited for those remaining body parts to be delivered, he and his father fitted the rubber floor mats and installed the Frank Wallic aircraft-style seats and Bill Rich bomber-style belts. The Spartan interior includes a pair of ’38 Auburn gauges on the ’32 Ford dash, and what little upholstery there is to be found was installed by Pachi and Dave. “And the custom dinosaur egg shift knob is by Bazel Slaughter,” Pachi adds. It all makes for a tidy and timeless roadster interior.