When Jerry Brown was 17, he owned a hot-rod Model A Ford, making him like that “kid in a hopped up Model A” in the oft-recorded early ’50s song, “Hot Rod Race.”
Over the years, Jerry has owned a number of classics and street rods and still owns several. They vary from a stock ’55 T-Bird to a ’32 Ford Model A roadster street rod. So when he decided to find a “new” pick-up for cruising around town, Jerry naturally did not go for a current model. He considered a ’33 or ’34 Ford but spotted a ’28 Model A roadster pick-up at an Arco Arena swap meet and bought it.
As is often the case when a Roamin Angel buys a car, it needed a little work. It had a four-cylinder engine for a ’32 Ford that had a Lyon high-compression head. The only problem was it was partially disassembled. The transmission, rear end and suspension were all stock, but it had been converted from mechanical to hydraulic brakes for more dependable stopping. Since it had been sitting in a barn since 1968, the paint and upholstery were in need of some TLC. With some help from fellow Roamin Angel “Model A Ray” Hugenberger, Jerry got it running — for a short time.
Every time he tried to take it for a spin, crud from the old gas tank would clog the lines, and he would end up pushing it home. Trying to clean it out himself two times did not work, so he pulled the tank and sent it out to be professionally cleaned and have the inside coated with epoxy.
As is often the case with car nuts, once Jerry took that first step, he skidded down the slippery slope to a complete restoration. However, rather than opting for all modern V-8 and auto trans running gear, wide tires and the latest hot-rod suspension, he is staying old school. His ’28 pickup will be built like he would have done back when he was a “kid in a hopped-up Model A,” if he had had a little more cash. Or a lot more cash.
Jerry has pulled the body off the frame, which he sandblasted and powder coated along with the bumpers, running boards and 15-inch ’33-style spoked wheels. The body work is currently being done, and Jerry plans on having the fenders painted black and the body itself maroon. Rather than go with something like a GM crate engine, Jerry is keeping the old four-banger. However, with a “hot cam” and lightened flywheel, the engine’s performance is improved. He plans to add twin updraft carbs when he reinstalls the engine in the truck. The engine will be mated to a ’39 Ford three-speed trans because it has syncros for second and third gears, making shifting much smoother. To get freeway speeds out of his little Ford roadster pickup, Jerry has a Borg Warner overdrive.
While Jerry still has a ways to go before he finishes his pick-up, he thinks he can complete it sometime next summer. Perfect for cruising around in a roadster pick-up with the top down. So keep an eye on future columns for a picture and story about Jerry’s completed hot rod. He may not be a kid anymore, but he will have one cool hopped-up Model A.
For more about Ron Cherry and his writing, see www.rlcherry.com. The Roamin Angels Car Club is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding this year. For more information about the Roamin Angels Car Club, go to www.roaminangels.com, call 432-8449, write to Roamin Angels, PO Box 1616, Grass Valley, CA 95945, or just stop by IHOP on Taylorville Road some Friday at 6:30 am for breakfast.