As most folks know, time, money, and effort are the elusive triumvirate of rod building, and it sometimes it seems impossible to line up all three at the same moment in time. Mike Pair, and his son, Lane, both enjoy hot rods, and they recently had Lane’s ’49 Ford F-1 truck hopped up by Vini’s Hot Rod Shop (headed up by Vini Madrigal) located in Mike’s hometown of Alabaster, Alabama.
A Chevy 10-bolt rear was used and painted gloss white to match the frame and 11-gallon spu
After the F-1, the next car on the list to get the treatment was Mike’s ’29 roadster, but the car ended up needing more work than was originally anticipated. So Mike started to look around for a hot rod that could be a quick build with some of the parts he’d collected, and one that could get him on the road with his son while the roadster was being finished at Vini’s.
Mike didn’t have to look far as he contacted the same guy in Georgia who had sold him his ’29 to see what else he had and, as luck would have it, a ’glass T roadster body and parts were for sale for $500. Mike bought the vehicle and towed it back to Alabama, but the car turned out to be very rough, even for the $500 purchase price.
The car had been destined as a project for a local auto technical school, and the transmission tunnel was off center by 6 inches and the firewall off center 2 inches! It was painted red (though it looked like it had been sprayed over dirt and crud), and the frame was completely out of square. When Madrigal got a chance to look at the chassis, it looked like the welds were just sitting on top of the seams, and he rightly told Mike it was unsafe.
Mike had initially wanted the T to be red with a black frame, and be something basic that he could beat around with. But after Madrigal sold him on the idea of a pre-fad T—something that might remind you of the cars you might have seen at the Grand National Roadster Show in Oakland 50 years ago—Mike let Madrigal go with his vision.
All of the casting numbers and burrs were shaved off and the block made smooth before Vini
Madrigal, with a lot of help from Justin Moon, started from the ground up, re-cutting and truing the frame so he’d have a good base to start from. The frame is made from 1.5x3 steel tubing and dialed in on a 100-inch wheelbase. As Vini’s progressed, they filled and ground all the welds and seams to get a perfectly smooth frame. Front and rear split wishbones from a ’34 Ford were first drilled, then sleeved, then sent to the chromers. Original Ford springs were also used, along with a drilled ’34 Ford I-beam axle, and those items went to the chrome shop, too.
Out back, Vini’s located a 10-bolt Chevy rear and smoothed up the area where the wishbones connect to the bellhousings. The axle tubes are also molded to the pumpkin, and everything smoothed up before being painted white and assembled with high-crown stainless steel acorn nuts. The front and rear spring perches also have hidden spring mounts— Madrigal didn’t like the look of the stock U-bolts. Once the frame was put in order both it and the rearend were painted white. (Mike didn’t like the idea of a white frame at first, but liked it once he saw it).
The chassiswork continued with the addition of new GM disc brakes (with all casting marks and lettering ground off and parts chromed). Steering on the car comes from a smoothed and painted Vega box (with chrome-plated drag links and more high-crown acorn nuts) connected to a polished stainless steel column. Chrome 15x5 and 15x8 rollers (with their backside painted white) are wrapped in Firestone Deluxe Champion rubber (15x5.00 and 15x8.20) and are topped off with chrome spider caps.
The smooth look also extends to the 350 Chevy engine, with all of its casting marks ground off and everything else smoothed before being sprayed gloss gold and assembled with polished stainless steel bolts and nuts. The Edelbrock aluminum water pump and intake manifold were also smoothed before being painted satin gold, though the five-fin valve covers are polished aluminum. Up top two chromed Stromberg 97 carbs deliver the mix while a Joe Hunt magneto delivers the spark (with MSD wires that run through a custom stainless holder and without plug boots to look like vintage cloth-style connections). Vini’s also made up the headers and exhaust system, then bolted the whole shebang to a smoothed-up TH350 trans equipped with a TCI Automotive 3,500-rpm stall converter. To complete the theme, the driveshaft was also painted white.
The ’glass body (no one knows who made it) received its much-needed bodywork, and Vini’s added an engine-turned panel with 1-inch painted beads to the firewall. The grille came from a ’29 Ford, but the bottom half was handmade at Vini’s. They also fab’d the back of the grille to hide the Jegs aluminum radiator and fan mounts while painting the 13-inch electric fan gloss black. Morgan Walker fab’d the stainless steel radiator hoses, and the filler cap was moved to the top of the radiator, which is hidden under the shroud.
M&M Hot Rod Interiors created the bench seat used in the T, then covered it with doubl
Vini’s Hot Rods painted the body a custom mix of BASF gloss paint (called Titan Gold), though the handmade dash is done in satin. A simple layout of five Auto Meter gauges set in an engine-turned panel is all that is seen on the dash, though a Kenwood stereo system, installed by M&M Hot Rod Interiors, is hidden under the seat. M&M also handmade the bench seat and door panels before covering them in a double-stitched, diamond-pleated white leather.
With the addition of a white three-spoke steering wheel, Mike’s little roadster was finished, and a far cry from whence it came. You can’t find a single weld mark or seam on the entire car—it’s perfectly smooth. The T made its debut at the Goodguys Columbus show earlier this year where it picked up a STREET RODDER Top 100 award for its throwback good looks. Not all T-buckets have to appear like they came out of a cartoon, and this roadster is a perfect example of a pre-fab look that has a place in today’s hot rodding world, right alongside the ever-popular traditional rods. You could imagine it with a Flathead and quick-change rear, or keep the gloss white frame and gold body and just enjoy beating on it just as it is—that’s what Mike’s gonna do!
Just the Facts
Owner: Mike & Lane Pair