As long as you have the budget, it’s fairly easy to build a crazy hot rod (if you know what you’re doing!) But creating a true traditional hot rod takes a lot of talent to accomplish. You will be limited to period-correct components to create a one of a kind ride. It is easy to combine different components into one car but choosing the perfect balance between all of the parts is easier said than done. Traditional hot rods dominated the salt flats and drag strips because of their powerful engines mounted on an extremely lightweight body. Most of the non-essential were removed leaving a skeletal frame look.
Billy Meekins from Bel Air, Maryland grew up surrounded with blazing hot rods. He loved being around hot rods and learned everything he needed to create an awesome hot rod. During the 1960s, he spent a lot of time watching racing events in Champs Drive-In in Catonsville. He also went to local drag strips and dirt tracks. He always loved cars that have a roaring engine and a blazing exhaust. Over the years, he owned several awesome cars such as a 1941 Chevy, 1956 Ford, 1956 Chevrolet, and a custom 1950 Mercury. But even after owning several cars, he still had the yearning to have a blazing hot rod like the ones he grew up with.
When Billy went to Bad Donkee Hot Rods located in Hanover, Pennsylvania, he saw the awesome traditional hot rods they have created. Eventually asked to meet the owner, Howard Kelly, and talk about his designs for his dream roadster. The two shared the same ideas and agreed to turn their imaginations into reality. Together with the Bad Donkee crew, they started to look for a proper frame. Most of the time, a traditional hot rod would start with a Model T or A but they decided to use something with a little more. They acquired a complete set of Deuce rails supplied by ASC. Bad Donkee’s Clark Bates did his magic and assembled the rails to create a Model T body design and achieved their desired base. Clark then fine-tuned all of the frame components and installed the custom cross members. For the final touches to the chassis, Clark built nerf bars and a rollbar.
For the suspension, 1940 Ford rear was installed and fitted with 3.78:1 gears and mounted to a 1936 Ford split ‘bones, a Model A spring and Speedway Motors friction shocks were also added. For an authentic traditional hot rod design, the 1934 Ford axle was lowered by 4’’ and attached suicide-style to a 1940 Ford split ‘bones and 1936 Ford spindles. For the brakes, a dual bowl master from a 1967 Chevrolet truck controls the 1940 Ford binders on all wheels. For the traditional ride, it has 1935 Ford 16” wire wheels fitted with big ‘n’ little Coker/Excelsior all-black tires.
For the traditional hot rod powerhouse, the perfect engine is the Ford Flathead V8 and Bill Towers provided the one they were looking for. Bill Towers had a 1947 Mercury Flathead V8 that was just rebuilt and was ready to roll. The team purchased the engine and painted it with a glossy black finish. They then installed an Offenhauser 2-pot intake and a set of Speedway Motors 9Super7 carburetors with classic style valve covers. Bad Donkee custom built a set of lake-style headers and coated with chrome for a bit of style. The Flathead is connected to a 1948 Ford transmission that was converted into an open drive by Dick Spadaro. The power is then directed to a driveshaft built by Westminster Transmission from Westminster, Maryland.
After the mechanical parts were done, it was time to do the body work. Speedway Motors provided newly built stock 1923 Ford Model T roadster body that had an unchanneled floor. They then added a 1932 Ford grille and Tribute T windshield frame. Dick Spadaro supplied the original 19037 Ford taillights and Model T headlights. For the final touches to complete the traditional look, they added taillight and headlights mounts, a 10-galoon gas tank that was custom built with hold-down belts, and a one of a kind transmission cover. After the bodywork was completed, it was then prepared for the final coating. A PPG black vibe was sprayed to complete its external look.
To bring life to the interior, the dashboard is fitted with Omega Kool Kustom white-series gauges supplied by Speedway Motors. For the smooth cruising, a reversed Corvair steering box and Speedway Motors steering column that is connected to a spring-style steering wheel. A rebuilt original Ford shifter sits on the floor. For that vintage interior look, vintage cloth wiring was installed by the Bad Donkee crew. Mike Sholley from Sholley’s Trim Shop located in Dillsburg completed the upholstery using maroon vinyl and loop carpet. For the final details, Larry Spangler from Spangler Signs sprayed the racing decals.
Billy’s 1923 Ford Model T Hot Rod is finally completed and looks incredible. The roaring Flathead V8 engine and traditional hot rod design will surely get your attention, it’s easy to say that Billy is certainly happy with his new ride.
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