Just the Facts
Year: 1929
Make: Ford
Model: Coupe
Owner: Bruce Leven
State: Washington

It's pretty hard to keep reinventing yourself when people believe you've already reached perfection, but that's what perfectionists do: they just keep refining what they do. And it's especially hard to achieve perfection in the world of hot rodding because, as subjective as hot rods are, it would be hard to define what perfection actually is.

But the Model A coupe pictured here is the seventh vehicle Jeff Eischen has created since his first (a 1929 roadster pickup) was featured in a STREET RODDER Garage Scene article in January of 2007. He's built a Model A highboy tub (featured in the Feb. '08 issue), a 1923 T modified (featured in June '09), a '32 roadster pickup (in the Aug. '09 issue), a '32 highboy roadster (a Top 100 winner in July '09), and reworked an old Model A coupe that once belonged to Boyd Coddington (from the Aug. '11 issue).

What those cars (and this one, too) typically have in common is the color (they're all painted black), most have a coffee-colored interior, unique engines (Eischen has used both older Ford and Chevy powerplants but also a Model B motor topped with a Miller head), sections of exposed transmissions in the cockpit, and many, many handmade parts, from steering wheels to Pitman arms.

You might think this would be pretty typical fare for some of the more aggressive hot rod shops, but Eischen does this work by himself, out in his home garage at the end of his driveway in Plain City, Ohio. But he didn't stumble into car building—he's been doing that all his life. Out of high school he was building an SCCA production car and soon an IMSA GTU racer. That led to a GTP car and team trips to Sebring and 24 hours of Daytona. Then there was the stint with the CART Indy team that came with an Indy 500 win, which was followed up with some Indy Light championships. So you could say he knows his way around the fabrication table.

But even though Eischen is officially retired, he's been in the hot rod hobby for the past 10 years, and the succession of cars that have rolled out of his shop are just design exercises from a guy who just can't stop thinking about how to build a better mousetrap! Sometimes the cars are his until he sells them (sometimes that's while he's building them), while others are commission works, with the buyers already well aware of the type of car they'll be getting.

For his latest project, a 1929 Ford Model A coupe, Eischen had already designed the car and found a body, and he'd begun building another masterpiece. During the early stages of the project, Eischen got a call from Bruce Leven, whom he'd originally met back when he was racing. (He raced SCCA Trans Am, IMSA GT and GTP and, as a driver/owner of a Porsche 935, Bruce won 12 Hours of Sebring back in 1981.)

Bruce had seen the article in STREET RODDER on the Model A coupe Eischen had reworked and tracked Eischen down. After getting reacquainted, he told Eischen about a unique four-banger engine he had that was being built at Shaver Specialties Racing Engines. Over the next month the two talked often, and eventually Bruce convinced Eischen to put his banger in the 1929, and then eventually took over the project with the agreement that Eischen would finish it for him. With his racing background, Bruce definitely had input on how the car should be built, but he knew letting Eischen do his thing would yield an exceptional vehicle.

Eischen had found the Model A in North Dakota, and it was in poor shape. He started the project the way he does most of his cars: on the computer. Using CAD illustrations, Eischen maps out everything he'll need to make ahead of time. For this coupe, that meant designing a template from which he'd build the chassis. He sent the template to Pinkee's Rod Shop in Colorado, where Eric Peratt made a set of '32 'rails to his specs that were only 4-1/2 inches tall (rather than the stock 6 inches) and allowed for the body to sit flat on top, with the proper kick in the rear, and modified for the 1928-29 cowl.