’29 Model A, Done Your Grand-Pappy’s Way!

Anyone who thinks that wheelchair-bound folks are less capable than the rest of us should take a good, hard look at this car:

1929 Model A Coupe

This ’29 Model A is a bitchin’ piece of steel, built from parts of other cars ranging from the 30’s to the 80’s.  It follows all the traditional rules of what a hot rod should be, down to the vintage Flathead motor and front drums.  “And the funny part about this car,” according to its builder, “Hot Rod” Bill Chartier, “is that I finished it in a wheelchair.”

That’s right-Bill had to take time out from his hectic build schedule to have surgery, taking him off his feet for the last leg of the build.

1929 Ford Model A Coupe, originally built by "Hot Rod" Bill Chartier.

The body was found in Kelowna, BC, where the previous owner had lost interest in the project.  Bill took the orphaned project car in, chopped the roof by 3.5″ and filled in the space where the factory Leatherback roof used to be.  Although the fenders and running boards were deep-six’d, spare tire covers from a ’37 Cadillac were cut up and re-welded over the front tire to appease The Man (and his provincial safety regulations).

Rear suspension and fuel cell of a Model A 5-window coupe

Underneath that slick bodywork is a 4″ channel frame, custom built just for this hot rod.  A dropped Superbuild axle keeps the front wheels attached, and a 4-link rear suspension keeps while a 3.11-equipped Lincoln Zephyr rear axle gets the power to the ground.

'50 Ford Flathead V8 in a '29 Ford Model A Coupe

Speaking of power, the little coupe couldn’t get away with another plain Jane mill-at least, not without a hood.  And since hoods are sooo 1986, a few modifications were in order.  At the top sits three Strouberg carbs on a big intake manifold.  A bigger cam gets enough juice where it counts, and Offenhauser heads holds the big explosion inside (while keeping things pretty on the outside).

Dashboard of a 1929 Model A 5-Window Coupe

The fact that this car was finished by a guy in a wheelchair (temporarily) isn’t the only surprise.  For all the oldschool styling and tradition, the car sports a modern fuel cell and modern 4-link rear suspension.  The rear bumpers are actually door handles from a commercial aluminum door.  Most of the roof is actually from an 80’s econo-box, although Bill swore me to secrecy over which donor car was sacrificed to the hot rod gods.  However, the biggest shock is that Bill sold the car-before it was even done!

1929 Ford Model A Coupe, originally built by "Hot Rod" Bill Chartier.

It makes more sense when you find out that Bill’s car went to his very good friends, Ernie & Laraine Benjamin.  And it’s not the first time that Bill has sold one of his custom-built beauties-we’ve already seen the 1951 Ford Custom that he gave up, so it’s almost par for the course.  Then again, if surgery and wheelchairs can’t keep Hot Rod Bill from our hobby, not having this finished hot rod in his garage won’t stop him.

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2 Responses to “’29 Model A, Done Your Grand-Pappy’s Way!”

  1. 1 blasterhappy
    January 14, 2009 at 4:22 am

    I don’t see how some Rodders do it. Build an awesome rod and then sell it. I know some guys like that around here but for me my cars are like my kids. I have a hard time seeing them go. My father and I have done a 1968 Pontiac GTO, a ’23 T-Bucket Rod, a ’52 Chevy 5-Window Truck Rod, a ’57 Thunderbird and a ’71 Camaro Z28. Of those we still have the ’68 GTO (belongs to my 8 year old son), ’57 Thunderbird and my ’71 Camaro Z28.
    This is a great piece and awesome car. I love this look. It’s clean, a bit subdued but has those little custom touches you catch a second time going over the car.
    The little cartoon character he has on the car is called Hot Stuff and I actually had that little dude on my first custom in the 80s. It was a ’87 Chevy S-10 Pickup and it was called “Lil’ Evil”. On the tailgate it said “Justa a Lil’ Evil” with the Hot Stuff devil. I also have a tattoo of the saying with the little devil in memory of my first custom. The truck made the Reader’s Ride section of Mini-Truckin Magazine in Summer of 1989.
    Again, great piece and pics.

  2. January 15, 2009 at 12:44 am

    Dang, that’s a lot of hot rods to go through. You and your father must be pretty tight after building that many cars together. Good to see you’re passing the tradition down to your son, as well, it’s awesome to know dads like you are going to keep our passion going well into the future. Maybe he’ll make the reader’s ride section of a big magazine like his old man!

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