Build something different. Build something great. Break the mold. Push the envelope. Re-write the rules. The sky’s the limit. You have the knowledge. You have the tools. You have the space and you have the time. What is it that you want to build? Something. Yes! Something new from something old that pays homage to the past while looking towards the future. Tall order, eh?
Your car is your opportunity to show off what you know and how much you can do—subtly or not. All those years of studying and practicing all come together right here and now on that four-wheeled vehicle. It can be mild. It can be wild. Or it can be somewhere in between.
Just like any other project, there’s a lot to keep in mind while planning a hot rod. Even the most modest of us wonder “Will this car have impact?” “What will people think when they see me rolling down Main Street?” Regardless of your answer, it all plays into the old car equation.
In the early-’60s, a young Jim Spurbeck of Downey, California, dared to be different while planning his 1926 Model T. Sure, he could have gone with a steel coupe or a glass bucket, but instead he opted for a four-door sedan—and a tall one at that. Rather than slicing, dicing, chopping and channeling, Jim repaired the sheetmetal and kept the body original from nose to tail. Full fenders, full hood, you name it. The body was sprayed with black enamel, which created a nice contrast with the chromed radiator shell and Model A bumpers. Oh, and the ’57 Imperial wheelcovers and solid Halibrands wrapped in piecrust slicks didn’t hurt either.
Although the bodywork retained plenty of stock flair, Jim updated the car’s underpinnings. For the drivetrain, he kicked the ’banger to the curb and installed a 265cid smallblock Chevy backed by a Powerglide. A dropped axle brought down the nose, while a ’50 Merc rearend was used out back. Inside, the sedan was treated to black Naugahyde upholstery, a burnt mahogany steering wheel and a “portable” record player behind the front seats.
Jim’s Model T wasn’t the fastest or most expensive hot rod ever built—but it certainly garnered attention wherever it went. From the pages of Hot Rod Magazine to a 1/32nd scale Aurora model kit (The “High Stepper”), this Tall T has left its own little mark on our hobby’s history. Aren’t you happy Jim dared to be different?
Photos from HRM, September 1963 and Predicta’s thread here