Ron Cherry: A F.A.S.T. 1927 Model T Ford
October 13, 2017
The story of how Patrick Tobin came to own a F.A.S.T. 27 Model T is a little complicated.
"It all started when I went to the Pomona swap meet about twenty-two years ago," said Tobin. "I was just checking out the cars."
But he ended up buying a 38 Ford with the original flathead V-8. This was the first "fun car" he'd owned in decades.
"I ran around with a crowd that was into cars in high school. I even went to El Mirage (the dry lakebed still used for speed trials)," he said. "But a friend of mine introduced me to parties and girls at San Diego State College, so I went there."
So hot cars were forgotten until he was kicking tires at the Pomona swap meet.
The next car for Tobin was a 32 Fodor (Ford four-door sedan) with a four-cylinder B model engine. He was at the counter of a parts supplier for old Fords when the fellow behind the counter made a life-changing comment to him: "You ought to come meet our group, Four Ever Four Cylinder."
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When he checked them out, Tobin found this club was dedicated to the need for four-banger speed. It was like the guys he knew in high school, but they were focused on only four cylinders. He liked them and joined.
When the club made a run up to Nevada City in 1995 and stayed at the old Northern Queen, he found something else he liked: the Sierra Nevada Foothills. So he contacted a real-estate agent then and there. Soon he had moved up here.
Once here, Tobin joined a Model A club, but soon found they had different interests than he.
"All they wanted was to talk about the next casserole dinner or party," he said. "I wanted to talk about cars."
He found others there who felt the same way and they formed a Northern California branch of F.A.S.T. According to their website, F.A.S.T., or Ford A Speed Technology is a "special interest group among old Ford enthusiasts" who focus on Ford Model T, A and B four-cylinder engines.
Although it sounds appropriate, Tobin said, "I think they came up with the acronym and then found words to match." Although Tobin had found his niche, many of the cars in the club were faster than his.
Then, about 19 years ago, a friend, the late Floyd Hughes, said to Tobin, "Let's build a car and wax their butts."
They went to Colorado to buy a frame and fiberglass body. But Floyd passed away before any real progress was made.
"Floyd knew what he was doing," Tobin said. "I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm enthusiastic."
He was building a house, so the Ford sat for a about four years before he got going on it.
The front axle is from Speedway Motors with brakes, spindles and lever shocks from a 40 Ford. So are the "banjo" rearend and brakes. But the rear axles and front spindles were machined to fit "English" wire wheels with knock-offs.
The trans is a 3-speed from a 42 Ford pickup. But the engine is what will knock your socks off.
Tobin started with a Model B Ford 200 cubic inch 4-cylinder engine and had Horse Power by Gerolamy in Carmichael build it. It has an S-type aluminum head that has two overhead intake valves per cylinder while using the flathead's original in-block exhaust valves.
For those in the know, it was like a four-port Riley head back in the day. They converted the engine to modern bearings with pressurized oiling and raised the compression to 7 to 1, far higher than original.
The intake is custom made to match the head and mounted to two Stromberg 81 carbs. Ignition is an MSD 12-volt system with an electric water pump for cooling.
"I got the alternator at a swap meet," he said. "It doesn't put out quite enough power at an idle, but it's fine when I'm driving."
The radiator and shell are from a 1920s Willys Whippet. For the exhaust, Patrick noticed a Model B header in the corner of a friend's garage.
"I asked him if I could have it," he said. "He said yes. I wrapped it with insulation so some kid wouldn't burn himself."
Inside, the Ford is nothing fancy. After all, it's a race car. A friend from F.A.S.T., Terry Arthur, helped with the wiring as well as a lot of other work on the Ford. It has Westech gauges.
"I wouldn't trust myself within an inch of that stuff," Tobin said about wiring.
For the interior, he went fancy. "I was looking for a serape for the seat cover," he said. "But my wife found a Navajo blanket and I used that." A neighbor painted the Ford for him in bright yellow.
The result is just what Tobin wanted: a four cylinder with a lot of punch.
"It's putting out somewhere between 100 and 125 horsepower," he said. "The low-end torque will snap your head back, below 3000 RPM." That's what Tobin needed for F.A.S.T. runs.
"We do a hill climb on a road that parallels the Auburn airport twice a year," he said. "It's not much of a hill. You go one at a time as fast as you can."
And now that Patrick has a fast F.A.S.T. 27 Model T Ford, he's a contender.
Ron Cherry's four books, including the Morg Mahoney detective series, are available on Kindle and in print copy at Amazon. His next book, a mystery that takes place in a small town in the Sierra Foothills, will be out soon. Check out his website at http://www.rlcherry.com.
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