It’s fair to say that most of today’s car enthusiasts don’t really know what it means to modify a car. We don’t know what it’s like to build body parts from scratch, engineer
new suspension and brake systems and completely rewire our cars.
Well, Glenn Watts of Brisbane knows what it’s like. This
1931 Ford A Coupe is his third ground-up hotrod build – and it’s here to show us
a thing or two about true vehicle
Come with us on this exploration of Glenn’s wonderful
Glenn purchased his ’31 Ford about 18 months ago as a bare body requiring
restoration. The first step was to replace the corroded chassis rails with new 4
x 2 inch box section rails arranged to suit a new suspension layout. The
existing lower section of the body and floor were also rusted, so Glenn
fabricated a new steel flat floor and cut-and-shut about 6 inches out of the
body. (Glenn is a boiler maker, which helps with his fabrication skills.)
Modifications to the body include a 3 inch chop top (requiring all new glass
and a lot of effort to retain the original fold-out windscreen), reproduction
rear guards, a vented engine hood, custom rear numberplate surround panel and
custom running boards. Glenn points out that all of the panels are steel –
there’s no fibreglass on this baby. Paint is a standard Ford XR colour known as
The number of ‘incidental’ parts that required replacement is mind-boggling.
The door hinges were chromed and rebuilt with new pins, all new replacement
rubbers were installed while the original headlights were repaired,
reassembled with new reflectors and polished to perfection. And the supporting
these rebuilt headlights is a 12-volt electrical system – a job that involved a
The trick 1930s fold-out windscreen is kept clean by a unique wiper
arrangement. A pair of Mini wiper arms and pivots is installed at the windscreen
while power comes from a Jaguar 2-speed motor fitted in the rear. An ingenious
cable drive system runs through the roof.
The engine is a Chev 350ci TPI (Tune Port Injected) imported from
Japan. The Chev
resides on custom fabricated mounts with urethane bushes. Output is increased
thanks to Corvette heads, Link programmable management, a K&N air filter and
a 2 ½ inch twin exhaust system with polished Gonzo mufflers.
One of the most time-consuming jobs often involved in an engine conversion is
fabrication of custom exhaust manifolds. To avoid the heartache, Glenn purchased
a set of off-the-shelf extractors to suit small block Chevs being used in
conversions. These ‘head huggers’ are intended to fit in the tightest
confines. Glenn has also had the extractors HPC’d inside and out to insulate the
engine bay from heat and help reach optimum performance.
This photo shows the custom fuel lines passing through the firewall. With the
installation of a return-type EFI fuel system, Glenn runs 3/8 inch lines to the
injectors and ¼ inch lines back to the fuel tank. Glenn made the lines at home
using a pipe bender and double flaring tool. Note that hard lines are used along
the length of the car with flexible braided lined line only at the fuel rail and
fuel pump connections.
Even the alternator has received major detail work. Sourced from a Toyota
Camry, this 85 amp alternator has been disassembled and the centre cover painted
to match the body. The front and rear housings were then laboriously polished by
hand (as were the water pump and cylinder heads). The final touch on the
alternator is an aftermarket billet pulley to suit the Chev drive belt.
An all-new set of gauges and warning lights were installed. Glenn went for a
classic style set of VDO white-face gauges – a speedo, tachometer, oil pressure,
fuel level and amps. A Holden Commodore speed sender is fitted to the T700
transmission. An electronics store was raided for LED warning lights for
handbrake, high beam, indicators and alternator change.
This photo shows the off-the-shelf billet accelerator pedal which is linked
to the engine using a universal type throttle cable. Glenn fabricated the brake
pedal arm that connects to a Holden Gemini booster and Ford XA master cylinder
mounted under the floor.
Inside the boot, Glenn has installed a custom
aluminium back panel to mount the CD stacker and amplifier. The boot is
professionally trimmed with carpet on the floor and charcoal leather coverings
everywhere else. Note that the boot is supported by twin gas struts - Glenn used
Commodore struts. Also seen in this photo are the 1942 Ford taillights and
late-model Mitsubishi indicators (which are normally mounted on the front
And check out the undercarriage. The entire under-body is painted body-colour
2-pack orange – Glenn explains that 2-pack is particularly strong and resistant to
chipping. Employed throughout the ‘rod are ‘button head’ polished stainless
fasteners – at a total cost Glenn doesn’t want to think about... All of the
stainless parts used on the vehicle are 316-grade. Glenn says this is the best for
presentation and durability. As you can see, the exhaust system, suspension arms
and aluminium sump are also polished to a shine. The Ford 9 inch diff, 3-position
adjustable 4-link rear suspension and the tip of the coil-overs can also be seen here.
By now you can probably appreciate the amount of engineering knowledge, hard
work, patience and money that Glenn has invested. And we haven’t even touched on
the hybrid braking system, Mazda steering rack, billet interior accessories and
custom steering shaft...
The list of mods on a hotrod like this really is endless.
Glenn would like to thank Darren at Superformance for his help and supplying
parts essential for building up this ‘rod. http://www.superformance.com.au/
Motson’s Turbo and Suspension can
also be thanked for tuning the engine management system. http://www.motsons.com.au/
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