Car of the Week: 1931 Ford Model A custom

Immersed in the hot rod hobby from age seven, Atascadero, Calif.’s Kristine Barbosa is no stranger to the garage. More recently as the wife of a busy builder, Kristine has witnessed the ground-up approach, so she fully understands the commitment required to see a build all the way through. With a willingness to work, Kristine set her sights on her ideal personal hot rod, which absolutely had to be a 1930-’31 Model A highboy coupe.
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Car of the Week 2020
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By Rotten Rodney Bauman

Immersed in the hot rod hobby from age seven, Atascadero, Calif.’s Kristine Barbosa is no stranger to the garage. More recently as the wife of a busy builder, Kristine has witnessed the ground-up approach, so she fully understands the commitment required to see a build all the way through. With a willingness to work, Kristine set her sights on her ideal personal hot rod, which absolutely had to be a 1930-’31 Model A highboy coupe.

Practicality can sometimes justify a shortcut, especially when the object of desire is as plentiful as ’30-31 Model A coupes. This time rather than hunting for rusty parts, she and husband, Eddie, entertained the notion of purchasing a fairly priced, complete and running car to serve as the starting point. With plenty to choose from, the search was narrowed to one particular ’31 coupe: a ’70s-style resto rod.

Being familiar with the coupe of choice, they already knew it was in sound mechanical condition, and it just so happened to be close to home. Once a horse trade rendered the raw materials, “Team Barbosa” took on the task of making that car Kristine’s own. The coupe came down to bare rails for boxing the frame and a stepped rear cross-member, thus marking the beginnings of an effective 18-month attitude adjustment (a facelift, if you will).

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If “less is more,” here’s a classic example. Beginning with a complete, full-fendered car, Kristine’s version now lacks everything she never wanted: bumpers, fenders, aprons, hood — all that, and more. During the personalization process, unwanted body parts and deleted doodads were swapped away where needed, which eased the acquisition of ’50s-flavor hot rod goodies such as a Lincoln/Ford drum brake combo, 16-inch “Gennies” from Wheel Vintiques and actual-size Coker/Firestone bias rubber just for starters.

With a fair amount of modesty, Kristine and Eddie don’t quite consider this transformation a build. As a rebuild, however, it was major enough to require things such as chassis fabrication, complicated bodywork and complete rewiring to showcase a period-proper Delco generator, which now looks right at home in the breeze.

Making good use of her husband’s abilities, Kristine insisted on a heavy 4-1/2-inch top chop. Making good use of her own abilities, she handled the coupe’s refinishing, creating her own brand of patina in the process. The custom Rust-Oleum finish truly shines — where she wants it to, anyway. Kristine’s desired effect was achieved in a fairly straightforward fashion. We won’t divulge secrets, but we can tell you the process involves a black base, special-mix topcoats and a California-compliant brush.

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Guiding the facelifted Ford is a pair of BLC aftermarket headlamps, followed closely by a real Deuce grille and shell. Frontal stance enhancements begin with a hair-pinned, Durant mono-leaf-suspended Super Bell 4-inch-drop axle. Down-dressed and cleverly disguised below a trio of deuces, the circa- ’74 350-cid V-8 Chevrolet mill is essentially stock with custom-made headers and a lift provided by Comp Cams. Since this coupe is driven to and from hot spots, the cooling system’s molded hoses connect to a Walker radiator.

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To fully appreciate the fun factor, you’ve got to hitch a ride. Through the lens of the ol’ Box Brownie, you’re all invited inside. On that note; watch your heads, slide in and take a seat on plain brown Naugahyde, stitched to Kristine’s specifications by Los Banos, California’s Jesus Rivera. Behind a ’40 Ford steering wheel, a Brookville dash is outshined by a big Sun tachometer. In-dash instrumentation is Stewart-Warner, surrounded and secured by an Offenhauser insert. Discretely now in black, a Gennie Shifter keeps Kristine in-touch with a rebuilt TH350 trans by Grant ‘n’ Dan’s Transmission Service in Fremont.

Bringin’ up the rear is a ladder-barred, 8-inch Ford differential assembly suspended via stepped cross-member with a ’37 Ford spring. Between Pontiac tail lamps, the year-of-manufacture license plate comes with a story of its own, which is best told by Kristine:

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“I got them from my 95-year-old friend Stan, who gave them to me so part of his legacy would carry on via my car. Stan delighted in riding with me to get burgers. He has since passed on, but he was very special to me.”

From burger runs to Bonneville, the finished coupe, a former resto rod, is all hot rod now, and since completion, always on the go. Sometimes practicality really can justify a shortcut. With a debt o’ gratitude to husband Eddie, Kristine Barbosa has her A her way, and apart from doing it all sooner, she wouldn’t change a thing.

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