A 1930 Ford Model A Coupe was rescued from the scrap yard and built to specific specs by Jesse James and his crew at Austin Speed Shop for the Discovery Channel TV show Outlaw Garage. This was the mystery car that the James gang built without knowing who the owner would be. The challenge was to build the best East Coast style 1950’s hot rod coupe in existence for a celebrity owner.
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Bob Merkt found the Coupe body in Iowa, which was in such good condition that he said that it was actually a shame to cut out the new sub rails to make room for the deep channel. The original 1930 Ford chassis (stamped w/ VIN # A2764008) was disassembled, squared up & fitted w/ new cross-members to dial in the stance. It uses a dropped & drilled I-beam on custom hairpins up front & a buggy spring w/ a modified Pete & Jakes ladder bar assembly for the ’57 Ford rear-end. Self-energizing Lincoln drum brakes were used behind the 1940 Ford steelies.
This Rod is featured in ‘Traditional Rod & Kulture’ magazine Issue #33, laying out the build process in detail. Essentially, Jesse James said the car had to be built right once to get the fitment right, and then taken back apart and painted, then assembled a second time.
Teutel was impressed with the 1953 Chrysler 331ci Hemi motor, especially the way it was set up old school style in this build. They added a Weiand three-deuce intake and flowing Zoomie headers by Bob Merkt. Stromberg donated three of their new black and chrome Stromberg 97 carburetors. The 727 Torqueflite transmission had to be modified to fit the build.
Though many East Coast cars ran un-chopped, it was decided to bring the top down 2” w/ a clean slice that required minimal work to finish out. James and Merkt hammered out a piece of flat steel into a slightly domed panel to fill the top, which came out excellent! James also created the one-off nerf bar that circles the Buick taillights from 2” chunks of stainless steel, and crafted the twin flat-bar insert for the grille. Back in 1958, four round headlights were the latest fad. So James added four vintage snowmobile lamps, staggering them down low on handmade stands.
James hand-built the steering wheel center and outer hoop in stainless. He also hand-built the matching shift knob. Check out how the shifter is mounted in the middle of the dash to keep the floor open for more legroom. The ‘54 Ford dash is simply beautiful & was massaged to perfection by Alex Swanson, who also installed a set of gauges behind the glove box door, where you will find the ignition switch and light switch.
This Mystery 1930 Ford Model A Coupe has it all. Celebrity owner, celebrity builder and a one-off custom build that is steeped in East Coast car culture.
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