Next-Generation Craftsmen Learn the Hot Rod Fundamentals While Finishing This A-Plus ’29 Ford Model A Tudor
Part of being a hot rodder is sharing your experience, enthusiasm, and technical knowledge with others, especially when it comes to the next generation of builders. Jon Hall and Paul Behling wholeheartedly believe in this mission and used this ’29 Ford Model A Tudor project to help contribute to the advanced program of automotive metal work and fabrication for the students at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
WCC offers an Automotive Services Transportation Technology degree with an emphasis on collision repair and paint. For students interested, there are advanced classes focused on fabrication and metalworking skills leaning more toward the aftermarket, restoration, and hot rodding thanks to Jon, Paul, the lead instructor, Tim VanSchoick, and many others. To introduce students to hot rodding, they tasked the classes with numerous body modification and paint work on Jon’s ’29 Tudor that scored our Goodguys Feature Pick during the 24th Summit Racing Nationals presented by PPG in Columbus.
The project started with an original steel body that had been chopped about 4-inches. Jon’s company, Shadow Rods, stripped most of the body down to bare metal, then began making the subtle mods like removing the rear fender reveals, prepping for a rolled rear pan, narrowing the grille shell, and more. With these mods roughed in, the rolling project was dropped off to the college accompanied by an Eric Brockmeyer rendering for guidance.
The students got busy under with direction from Paul, Tim, and the other instructors as they raised the cowl, added a ’31 visor and a crown to the windshield frame, fabricated small rear wheel tubs, and customized the hood. Once the forming, shaping, and fitting was complete, the students prepped and covered the bare metal with PPG’s Traverse Blue for an amazing, vibrant finish.
For the foundation, Jon of course started with a Shadow Rods ’32 frame featuring 5-inch stepped rails to fit the Model A sedan body. A Pete & Jakes axle is secured by Shadow’s wishbones with a 9-inch axle out back with a set of 15- and 16-inch American Rebel wheels shod in Diamondback tread. The plan all along was to build the ’29 into a comfortable cruiser, so a 355c.i. Chevy small-block was enlisted, backed by a 200-4R overdrive transmission. A Holley Sniper EFI and MSD ignition system provide the fuel and fire while a Dewitts radiator keeps things cool. PML finned valve covers were bolted on along with a set of Hedman headers leading to a custom exhaust system that was crafted by the students.
For the cabin, Jon wanted to have the luxuries that modern technology offers, so they worked with Street Machinery on the wiring to handle an push button shifter, power windows, and electric power steering along with front and rear cameras and a full navigation system. Vintage Air was mandatory along with a set of Dakota Digital gauges to fill the custom dash. The chores of stitching the leather over the Wise Guys seat and interior panels of the Tudor went to Rod and his team at Hof Designs outside of Detroit.
The project was stalled several times during the pandemic, but the students put in the extra effort to get through any obstacles. The instructors enjoyed watching the students work through these challenges as they developed solutions and honed their new crafts. Jon is excited to finally have the ’29 Ford Model A Tudor finished and plans to start racking up the miles during Michigan’s beautiful fall color season before the long winter settles in. “This car was built to be driven, and it will be!” he says.
This is actually the second hot rod that Jon and Paul have shared with the students at WCC. The first was based on a Shadow Rods ’27 roadster body, with the finished street rod scoring a position in Street Rodder Magazine’s Top 100 of the Year awards. With a track record like that, we can’t wait to see what the program comes up with next time!
Photos by John Jackson