Ron Cherry: Hand-me-down ‘30 Model A Pickup
Special to The Union
Hand-me-downs get a bad rap.
Too often it means some ill-fitting shirt or a pair of too-short jeans from an older brother.
But what if it were a cool hot rod from a life-long family friend? That’s the case with Bobby Beatty’s Model A pickup.
The story began when Bobby’s dad, George, bought the ‘30 Model A pickup in 2007.
“It was a basket case,” George recalled. “I traded a MIG welder for it. Nothing but a body, bed and frame.”
For a hot rodder, that’s raw material for something great.
George and son built a rod with a flathead V-8, Chevy 3-speed manual trans and a Ford wishbone rearend.
“We built it out of parts laying around,” Bobby said. “It was so rusty, leaking water and smoking. It was a real jalopy.”
Yet it won the Buzzards’ Award trophy at the Roamin Angels “Cruisin’ the Pines” Car Show in 2008.
As the saying goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
George and Bobby were in the process of modifying the pickup to put a small-block Chevy in it two years ago when Gordon Black wanted to buy it. Gordon had been at George’s wedding and was a long-time family friend.
“He’d retired and needed something to work on,” George said. So he sold it to his friend for a very reasonable price.
With George’s help, Gordon set his heart and mind to making the Model A one cool ride.
They moved the cab back 2 inches to accommodate a 283 CID V-8 engine and 3-speed trans from a donor ‘65 Chevy pickup. For the front end, they used a modified ‘37 Ford “suicided” (front axle moved in front of the end of the frame) straight-axle. They used a ‘65 Mustang 8” rearend and changed the rear leaf springs to modified Model A buggy springs.
For steering, they used the column out of a ‘71 Ford mated to a Saginaw steering box from a ‘67 Chevelle.
When it came to paint, they used “rattle cans” (spray paint cans).
The seat came out of the rear of a Dodge Caravan.
Some oak-veneer plywood was used for the headliner, an Indian blanket became a seat cover, floor mats were rubber.
“It’s pretty basic,” Bobby noted.
This was old-school hot rodding, with the parts coming from George’s stash. Modify and make do are the by-words.
Anytime a car is modified, it can cause problems. Moving the cab back meant the stock bed was too long. George built a custom, wood-sided bed for it. The windshield visor seemed to be causing a lot of noise, so they cut holes in it to relieve wind pressure.
“It didn’t work too good, but it looks cool,” Bobby said. “It’s an 85-year-old truck, so it just has wind noise.”
The result was a classy rat-rod that is a real eye-catcher.
“We had a fun time building it,” George said, and it shows.
Bobby had some part in the building, but has to work for a living as a body man at Sierra Auto Body.
“I stopped by for a beer and helped out when I could,” he said. “I’d like to have done more, but I was busy at work.”
Then Gordon made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“He asked me if I wanted it and gave it to me,” he remembered. “I guess he was finished with it.”
Gordon’s generosity was not a one-time event.
“He’s known me since I was born. He’s been around me my whole life,” Bobby said. “He gave me a ‘48 Plymouth when I was 13 years old.”
Now that Bobby has his hand-me-down Model A, he does have a few plans.
“I’m thinking of putting a 4-speed in it,” he said. “Eventually I’ll probably put a paint job on it someday. I’m thinking of battleship grey with a matte clearcoat.”
Although it will be a better paint job, it will keep the same look the Model A has now.
In the meantime, Bobby tries to follow Gordon’s main condition when he handed down the Model A: enjoying it.
“One of the conditions was to drive it with a smile on my face,” Bobby said. “I’ve been doing just that.”
If all hand-me-downs were as cool as this hot rod, the recipients would all be smiling too.
Ron Cherry’s latest novel, a Celtic saga entitled Three Legs of the Cauldron is on Kindle Scout. Nominate it at https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2IBYO86OHTMBB and get a free Kindle download if it’s published by them
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