Just the Facts
Owner: Joe Cane
Much of the Phaeton’s rugged structure is due to the tubing that wraps around the back of
Though the lineage of today's hot rod hobby can certainly be traced to the dry lake beds of Southern California more than 75 years ago, the fact is people everywhere have been trying to make their cars go faster and look better since Day One.
And the hobby isn't confined to just the United States. Hot rodding is a global pursuit, pulling in people from every corner of the world, and it's been that way for decades, too. Though each country has its own style, each also has to deal with its own set of restrictions that they have to work around in order to enjoy their vehicle—regulations that are often much harsher than what is found in the States.
But because of the amount of and the close proximity to various speed shops, rodders have it pretty easy when building a hot rod in Southern California. Expertise and opportunity gets harder to find the farther away you get from SoCal and, when you have the desire to build a rod outside the United States, it gets downright tough. Tariffs and fees to import needed parts, plus logistical nightmares in using different currency to pay for product, or to even contact someone half a world away to get some needed information, becomes a real chore.
Joe Cane bought an industrial-level sewing machine to teach himself how to sew interiors f
Joe Cane is a hot rodder who lives in Llandilo, New South Wales, Australia. Located on the East Coast of the island continent (about 25 miles west of Sydney), Joe has been an avid rodder for decades, ever since an uncle took him to a car show in 1970 when he was 8 years old. All of the chrome and wild paintjobs really made an impact on Joe, and it's a style and look he's never forgotten. He bought his first car (a 1955 Chevy) when he was a 12—a car he still owns today—and he bought his first hot rod by the time he was 16.
Serious about his hobby, Joe has built a wide range of vehicles over the past 20 years, from a 1934 roadster pickup to a 10-second T-bucket (and his nephew, John Cane, recently restored the roadster pickup to its 1980s livery). Over the last two decades Joe has also collected a lot of parts and, eight years ago, decided to start on a Model A Phaeton project. The basic concept was to have something that would look like it would have belonged at that car show he attended in Sydney's Bankstown Square 40-plus years ago.
Joe tracked down a 1928 Ford Phaeton body at a farm in the outback region of New South Wales, and paired it with a 1948 frame he had already owned. He fab'd a chassis jig to keep everything square and, from that point on, only Joe, with some help from his friend, Tony Deas, would work on and build the entire car, including paint and upholstery, in his own shop.
Joe didn't want to use 1932 'rails because he thought it would make the height of the body look short, and he liked the 1948 'rail better, as it had a flat side. The 'rails were then cut to fit the bottom of the Model A body, and Model A crossmembers were used along with a tubular X-member section. To make the car's appearance as clean as possible, Joe incorporated all of the car's wiring, plus fuel and brake lines, inside the framerails, which were also pie cut from the cowl forward to minimize its profile.
More tubular sections were created for the center pillars—the structural area behind the front seatback—as well as under the cowl. The seat piece also serves as a kind of lower cage as it runs diagonally from the top of the seatback to the base of the cowl, and it also serves as a mounting area for the door hinges. New wheel tubs were fabricated for the body, and the rear quarters are double-skinned (newly fab'd on the inside, original skins on the outside).
Joe used a 1948 Ford frame, cutting what he needed to get the Model A body to sit flat up
Joe built his own four-link suspension system, and set up the 1956 9-inch rear with a 4.78:1 gear set ratio. Up front a set of 1934 Ford spindles were used for the spindle-mount wheels, and a stock 1934 axle was drilled out and, after 40 hours of prepwork, sent out for chrome. Note: the car's chromework was the only "outside" work that was done on the car, and it was handled by "Uncle", a longtime friend of Joe's. The work required the metal be prepped, coated with copper numerous times, rubbed, and then polished before being plated with chrome. After he finished the work on Joe's car, Uncle retired from plating.
Steering components include an aluminum steering box plus a column made by Joe. (Australia is a part of the roughly quarter of the world's traffic that travels on the left side of the road, which demands a right-hand-based steering system). To accommodate the right-hand steering, Joe also created his own pedal assembly, complete with a balance bar used with twin brake master cylinders. Magnesium Halibrand 16x10 wheels are found out back, wrapped in M&H Racemaster skins, while the fronts are 12-spoke 15x4 wheels shod in Michelin 135-15 rubber.
The Mopar steering wheel is on the right of the dash as Joe is a full-time resident of Aus
To achieve that early hot rod look he was going for, Joe retrofit an early 350 Chevy with a host of vintage speed equipment. Internally an Isky cam was installed while Herbert rockers and Isky valvesprings help deliver the mix. Up top an Enderle mechanical fuel-injection system was used, and spark travels from a Vertex magneto through Vertex wires. Finishing up the drivetrain a four-speed transmission equipped with a Hays clutch and a chrome scattershield was bolted up to the engine (which itself was painted in a green metalflake). Joe welded up his own exhaust system for the car, too.
The body didn't escape attention either, and is made up of 32 separate pieces that all get bolted together. Another unique design aspect is the one-off mini valance that hangs over the edge of the framerail (running from the firewall to the rear fenderwell) that makes the body look taller than it really is. Like many of the custom ideas employed on this vehicle, it's subtle, but certainly adds to the overall appearance.
Sprayed by the owner with Spies Hecker Super Black paint, even the inside of the doors were painted before their skins were attached. For another unique feature, pieces of tempered glass (not Plexiglas) were made as flooring so the car's occupants could easily see past the exhaust, transmission, and driveshaft and through to the ground passing beneath them.
On the backside of the chrome Model A radiator cover are the ultra-clean inlet and outlet
A stock 1928 dash holds a chromed gauge insert filled with a stock fuel gauge and a Smiths oil/temp gauge. The steering wheel is Mopar, and Joe machined the adapter and cap to work with his own column. To finish off the interior (and keeping with the homemade theme), Joe went out and bought himself an industrial sewing machine to learn how to stitch interiors. This car was the first time he'd attempted the work, and it came out quite nice. Green vinyl covers the custom front and rear seating he made in his shop.
The goal for finishing his ride was to get it from Australia and on the floor of the 2013 Grand National Roadster Show in Southern California, where it could compete for the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award. Accepted as one of the 12 finalists for the top prize, the car didn't win the AMBR, but it did capture the AMBR Outstanding Detail award. But having the experience of finishing a car after an eight-year build and dragging it halfway around the world to compete in a car show only stoked Joe's competitive nature, and he's working on a 1937 Chevy (that was once a sedan that he's made into a two-door tourer). So you can bet if the Chevy has any of the innovation, imagination, and attitude his last car generated, it'll surely be a winner, too!
When Joe was customizing his ’48 Ford frame for the project, he hid all of the wiring plus
The floors aren’t Plexiglas—they’re 1/2-inch tempered glass, allowing the driver and rider
The engine is an early Chevy 350, topped with Enderle mechanical fuel injection. Joe made