Here’s the Skinny

Here’s the Skinny

When building these old cars, you’re often forced to work with the hand you’re dealt. Last week, we touched upon a Southern California rodder who sliced and stitched an A-Bucket out of a Model A sedan. Today’s tale is in a similar vein, except our subject is one very trim T.

The fun part about early iron is that you can chop it, channel it, section it, shorten it, lengthen it, widen it or leave it just as it left the assembly line. Although we all know it’s ideal to start with pristine Henry sheetmetal, that’s rarely the case. John Souza of Garden Grove, California, faced this very problem when he set out to build a hot little street roadster.

Back in the mid-’50s, John scored a ’27 T on ’25 Chevy truck rails for the whopping sum of $200. Its origins were somewhat of a mystery, but judging by the narrowed body and the welded and cut doors, it’s likely that the car had been used for racing. Rather than returning it to stock dimensions—and ultimately making it more user friendly—he picked up where the previous owner left off.

Even though the sheetmetal and chassis remained the same, he worked to turn the T into a showpiece. Up front, he opted for a ’32 Ford axle, while a chromed banjo rear and a Model A spring took up residency out back. After frying his first flathead in L.A. freeway traffic, John put together a stroked ’48 Merc complete with beefed up internals and a trio of Strombergs.

Much like last week’s A, it’s the detailing that makes this a car something special. Check out the custom stainless steel radiator and gas tanks, hand-formed rear exhaust brackets and fiberglass cowl steering blister. Inside, there’s the wooden dash, fold-out steering and plenty of tuck’n’roll to go around. Chrome, polish and 20 coats of maroon ensured this machine drew a crowd wherever it went.

Yes, the interior’s a little on the cramped side, but that didn’t stop the guys at Petersen from running a rod test on the little bomb. Seeing that it’s essentially a flathead-powered Go Kart, I’m sure it was nothing but fun!

Joey Ukrop

 Photos from Petersen’s Custom Hot Rods, 1963

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