Most hot rod hauler hobbyists have an affinity for roadster pickups. Call it dual purpose or utilitarian sportiness-a truck with a foldable top offers endless appeal.
Clark Sampson of Belleville, Michigan, has been an automotive enthusiast his whole life. Vehicles he has built and owned include a '66 Shelby Cobra, a '61 Harley-Davidson, and a '30 Ford Model A coupe. After being retired for a bit, he got to wonderin' what he should do with all his spare time. An automotive enthusiast can't while away all the hours behind the wheel of what they've already built. The hands need to create, not simply steer.
So Clark found a '29 Ford Model A roadster pickup for sale that was more a pile of rusty components than a complete truck-the perfect cure for too much time with nothing to do. He initially stripped the chassis and sold it off before rediscovering it when he was ready to redo the ragtop pickup. Buying the original chassis back was smart; boxing the framerails their entire length was still more intelligent. For the front suspension, a Total Cost Involved IFS worked world's better than a stock solid axle. Using similar logic for the rear, Clark narrowed a Jaguar independent rear suspension, installed same, and shod the sweet chassis with American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs and BFGoodrich T/A radials all the way around.
The easiest way to power a '20s or '30s vintage Ford street rod is with a Chevy 350ci engine. For Clark, that wasn't an option. Nothing but Ford power would do. He procured a '90 Lincoln Mark VII 5.0-liter V-8 and its Borg-Warner T-5 manual five-speed transmission. Rather than install the powertrain as a unit and be done with it, Clark created a twin throttle body fuel injection system to top the Ford mill. An aluminum Be Cool radiator was also selected to keep the engine at optimal operating temperature
Though the A was a pile of rusty pieces when Clark bought it, none of the metal was rusted all the way through. With the help of Jim Newbell, all the exterior panels, including the bedbox, were renewed. Jim then laid on some resale red topcoats.
By wiring the truck with a Painless Performance Products harness, the ownermade the pickup a runner. After installing the Pioneer CD/stereo system and trimming the interior, he called the project complete. With the help of Jim, Mike and Barry, the roadster pickup was back on the road within two years. Alas, like almost every other vehicle built by a hobbyist, more work is planned. Clark intends to replace the coilover shocks at each corner with Firestone airbags, a compressor and a reservoir. With the top down and rolling on 20s and 17s, the truck looks cool now. Imagine how hot it will appear once it's bagged. Yeah, we know. Endless appeal will be an understatement.
Once a basketcase, the '29...
Once a basketcase, the '29 Ford Model A roadster pickup won First Place in Class at the '05 Detroit AutoRama, where the mega-prestigious Ridler Award is presented.
A Ford within one is always...
A Ford within one is always good to see, especially when the motor's shoehorned into a small space, like a Model A chassis and tight engine bay. Clark's A gets moving with a '90 Lincoln Mark VII 5.0-liter H.O. backed by a '90 T-5 manual trans.
Fabricated from fiberglass...
Fabricated from fiberglass with polished swirls to look like an engine-turned aluminum dash, the owner made a handsome panel and filled it with Stewart Warner gauges.