Track Time – Jon Hall’s Track-Nose T Roadster Named Goodguys 2023 Street Rod of the Year
Owner Jon Hall and builder Greening Auto Company did more than get in the race with their track-inspired ’27 Ford roadster when they came to the 25th Summit Racing Nationals Presented by PPG. They took home the checkered flag by winning the Goodguys 2023 Street Rod of the Year Award!
This outstanding roadster is one of those street rods that has found the perfect balance of nostalgia and new. It harkens back to the roots of hot rodding when track-nose Ts raced across the dry lakebeds of Southern California and around dirt-track ovals across the country. Yet it also incorporates incredible modern craftmanship, technology, and finesse in a car that looks much simpler than it was to build.
Owner Jon Hall has been building hot rods since he returned from the military service in the 1950s, and he still has the first ’27 T roadster he built (and dated his wife in) back then. A couple decades ago, Jon started Shadow Rods, which builds new steel ’27 T hot rod bodies with plus-sized dimensions to provide more room and comfort for rodders. Inspired by a rendering by Eric Brockmeyer more than a dozen years ago, Jon set out to build a sleek track-nose version of a Shadow Rods T that would showcase the best elements of modern street rodding, including a new all-aluminum Flathead engine from Motor City Flatheads.
Much of the initial work on the roadster was done in-house at Shadow Rods by Jon and a team that included Randy Norton and Ashley Root, with Dave Auten handling the major sheet metal work and Cliff Samuel doing machine work. Partnering with Greening Auto Company to complete the build was an easy choice, as Jeff and Jesse Greening and their team have developed a stellar track record for building top-quality rods, sweating the details, and designing and crafting the one-off parts necessary to compete for elite-level honors.
The foundation for the roadster was a Shadow Rods frame, which is based on stamped ’32 Ford style rails. These were sectioned 1-inch to create a rail height of 5-inches, giving the frame a more svelte profile. The front suspension consists of a Super Bell dropped I-beam axle located by custom wishbones machined by Greening, with RideTech shocks and Thompson Garage ’39 Lincoln drum brakes modified and refined at GAC. Custom inboard-mounted wishbone-style trailing arms locate the Winters quick-change rearend, which is suspended with a custom transverse spring and RideTech shocks.
Greening is a go-to resource for many builders for custom wheels and other parts, and the shop designed and machined an incredible set of five-spoke knock-off rollers inspired by classic Indy racing designs. They measure 16×5- and 18×7-inches and are wrapped in vintage-style 5.50-16 and 7.00-18 Excelsior tires from Coker.
Now, about that Flathead. It’s an all-new cast aluminum engine from Motor City Flathead, a division of Shadow Rods. With displacement coming in at 327c.i., this is not your father’s Flathead! Custom aluminum heads frame a one-off EFI system designed to mimic a vintage Hilborn unit. Jon worked with Kinsler Fuel Injection on the placement and design of the stealthy internal injectors and employed Holley electronics to make it all work. The Flathead is cooled by a DeWitts radiator and backed by a McLeod five-speed transmission.
The body began as a standard Shadow Rods XL27 but, like the frame, it has been nipped and tucked to achieve the sleek profile Jon wanted. A slight wedge section gives it a gentle taper that flows through the custom hood and one-off track nose, which was formed around a custom buck. The flush-fit grille frame is made from 10-gauge steel and filled with horizontal bars. Moving rearward, billet steel door jambs were machined and grafted into the body to help achieve a smooth, flush fit for the stretched doors; those jambs also incorporate custom hinges, latches, and striker assemblies.
The Greening Auto team further enhanced the body by designing and machining the custom headlights buckets, lenses, taillights, license plate frame, and many other small parts. All the finish bodywork was also competed at Greening Auto, and that’s where the gorgeous custom-mixed BASF Glasurit maroon paint was applied.
The custom Greening touches continue inside the minimalist cockpit with a machined instrument cluster bezel filled with custom Dakota Digital HDX gauges, a custom-machined steering wheel on the Ididit column, and one-off shifter, bezel, and pedals. A dash-mounted Breitling chronometer and stopwatch lend a little classic competition flair. M&M Hot Rod Interiors gets credit for the beautiful brown Hydes leather upholstery on the WiseGuys seats and other soft parts.
For Hall and Greening, the goal with the roadster was to create a car with authentic, jewel-like beauty and excellent road manners, one that can help turn a casual drive into a virtual time warp, albeit one with room, comfort, and wonderful driving dynamics. We’d say they succeeded. The car was a strong contender for the 2023 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award at the Grand National Roadster Show and earned the prestigious CASI Cup at the Detroit Autorama. And now it has been crowned the Goodguys 2023 Classic Instruments Street Rod of the Year, an honor that fits this track-nose roadster to a T!
Photos by John Jackson