An iconic segment of the California hot rod culture is on display in a museum, but it’s a museum halfway across the country. The Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, but is showcasing the famed little black Model T hot rod built by a youngster named Ed Iskenderian, who soon would become famous for creating high-performance camshafts. “Isky” anticipates celebrating his 100th birthday on July 10.
If the Nebraska location for the famous hot rod seems strange, consider that the car is displayed with Ed Winfield’s cam grinder that Isky used as well as with the only other pair of Maxi cylinder heads known to exist. The car is owned by Isky and is in Nebraska on a long-term loan.
As the story goes, Isky — the nickname given by school teachers who couldn’t pronounce Iskenderian — and a buddy John Athan grew up in the same Los Angeles neighborhood and were fascinated by the cut-down and hopped-up Model Ts people were building.
Athan built a T-based hot rod and then one based on a Model A (in the 1950s the car appeared in the Elvis Presley movie, Loving You). Isky acquired a T-based car from Athan in the late 1930s, replacing the 4-cylinder engine with a flathead V8 equipped with Maxi overhead valve head, and adding an Edelbrock triple manifold and Vertex magneto.
He made many other changes — 1932 Ford front axle with 1937 wishbones, Plymouth hydraulic brakes, Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, modified 1933 Pontiac grille, gauge panel salvaged from an 8-cylinder Auburn, and a flying-skull hood ornament Isky created in a high school shop class.
Great article from Ryan on five speed conversion of a Model A
A Model A Ford can be one of the simplest machines in which to work. That’s a good thing because if you own one, chances are there’s something that needs to be worked on. When I purchased my ’30 coupe, there was a laundry list of small things that needed to be done and an even larger list of things I wanted done. I tackled that small laundry list first with things like rebuilding the water pump, carb, and updating the ignition and electrical to 12volts. These were things that were necessary; the water pump and carb leaked, while the wiring harness was held together with residential wire nuts. Back on the road, it became painfully obvious by the ever increasing noise emitted from the transmission that it would require my attention next. That’s when I had to make a drastic decision; rebuild the existing transmission or upgrade the stock 3-speed with a T5.
If I’m honest, by the time I was ready to pull the transmission, I had already decided the coupe could use not only a couple more gears, which meant I could now make a slightly safer attempt at highway driving, I was also done with the double clutching, no syncro-shifting driving that occurred using the original transmission. The fact that I had a good T5 with an S10 tailshaft sitting under my work bench made the decision even easier.
There have been a handful of T5 kits available on the aftermarket, but they all seem to lack one thing or another. Some use the stock Model A bellhousing (so as to keep the pedal mount) with an adapter, but that can push the trans too far rearward. Others use a custom bellhousing designed to replace the Model A unit, with the T5 bolt pattern machined in place. Some were fairly inexpensive while others were outwardly the opposite. Most were out of business or unavailable. Unsure on how to proceed, it was while surfing the ‘net one night looking for a solution that I came upon the website for Vintage Metalworks. I jotted down the phone number and gave Dave Farwell a call that following morning. Turns out they not only had a kit to do the swap, but also offered a couple other solutions I hadn’t thought of.
Speedway Motors employee Tim M. takes his creativity up a notch with this installment by incorporating a Model A rear crossmember and a high arc spring into his ’29 roadster build. See what Tim goes through to restore the spring and gets it ready to fit on the car.
I’ve always wanted to build an early 50’s style Model A hot rod on a pinched deuce frame incorporating a model A rear cross member and high arch stock spring. I was lucky to find a deal on such a frame that had already been started, but the first owner installed a triangulated four bar rear for a more modern street rod. While they work great, a 4-bar suspension just wouldn’t fit the mid-50’s era build I was aiming for so I decided to remove it. I cut out the 4-bar and replace it with stock parts a builder might have used back in 55. Why use a high arch Model A Ford spring in a 32 frame you may ask? This answer is simple. Forever guys have been doing this to clear a quick change rear end. When I scrounge up enough money for my quick change this rear suspension will not only be period correct; it will also clear the extended case of the quick change but sit just high enough to show it off nicely.
In this article I will document the work done to my rusty 100 year old Model A spring to bring it back to life. I will talk about some important information to keep in mind regarding old springs while also showing some handy items available to make using an old spring easy
I tracked down my Model A spring in an old junk yard back home in South Dakota. The spring was resting in a pile of other parts not far from an original dilapidated Model A frame. I knew I needed a good high arch spring and the rear cross member on the frame looked good so I brought them both home. In thinking about what the roads around America looked like in 1928 it quickly became apparent why so many frames cracked, and also why so many of the original springs took a beating. If you are scrounging original parts like me keep this in mind, and make sure items are free of stress cracks and heavy rust. Most original A springs will be rusty to some degree, but watch for heavy pitting on the flat surfaces between the leaves where moisture would sit.
Cleaning up my old spring was going to take time and patience! If you want to fast forward to another area of your project you could take the easy route here, and simply purchase Speedway Motors replacement high arch spring. Part number 91043102 fits both Model T and Model A, and is hot rod ready! I would recommend that route if time is of the essence
Follow along as Speedway Motors employee Tim M. explains his decision to run Ford wire wheels on his ’29 hot rod project. He goes in depth, like always, on some of the various differences you could encounter if you dive into the wide world of wire wheels for your project as well!
When I originally pictured what my early 50’s style hot rod Roadster would look like I always imagined it with solid steel ’40 Ford style wheels. As so many of you know once a car building endeavor begins it doesn’t take long for one to deviate from the plan for one reason or another! My hot rod build is no different and it turns out one of the first things to be changed was my plan to go with solid steel wheels and use original Ford wire wheels instead.
The decision to abandon my vision of solid steel wheels and go with wires was spurred by my sentimental connection to an old grain wagon. My wife had wonderful grandparents. They were the type of people you respect from that previous generation who knew hard work and hard knocks in the Heartland of America. They were the type of people you look up to and try to emulate. When I first met my wife’s grandparents I had an immense respect for them immediately. I spent time at their farm and spotted one of their old wagons sitting in the weeds. It was assembled from old Ford parts probably before my parents were born. Up front was a 37 wide 5 complete axle and in the back a stock 1934 axle complete right down to the hub caps. Most of the parts were destroyed having been crudely gas welded to the angle iron frame of the wagon. The wheels looked good so when I had a chance to obtain the wagon I snatched it up and harvested everything I could save. The best parts were a nice pair of 34 wire spoke wheels. After removal they sat in the corner of my garage until I got rolling on my little 29’ roadster this year. I had to include them and can’t wait to tell my kids how the wheels on the front of our hot rod once belonged to their great grandparents!
We’ve been anxiously waiting to get the in garage with the Chevelle and it’s finally time! The first upgrade we are going to do is install gauges because the Chevelle currently only has a speedometer and a gas gauge. We will eventually run the engine on the dyno and we will be driving it harder than it has previously been driven, so we want to be able to track what is going on.
Allow us to introduce Project Chevelle! Brand new to the Speedway Motors’ family, this is our nearly all original 1972 Chevelle Malibu. We were lucky enough to find this stunning Chevelle from its original owner, Darrell Christensen, of Norfolk, Nebraska. It retains the original 307ci small block, factory drivetrain and suspension, and the original interior.