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Glenn Etchell's 1928 Ford Model A roadster

By Simon Major | Photos: Daniel Munnecke, 15 Oct 2018 Features

Glenn Etchell's 1928 Ford Model A roadster

The spirit of a legend rides shotgun in this sweet Model A

This article on Glenn's Model A roadster was originally published in issue no.14 of Street Machine's Hot Rod magazine, 2014

AT FIRST glance, Glenn Etchell’s ’28 roadster is reminiscent of ‘Junior’ in Tex Avery’s hot rod cartoon, One Cab’s Family. Dual pipes, split screen, a hopped-up motor; the styling is straight out of 1952, when that animated gem was made. This little A could pass as a survivor given its visual cues, yet this retro build masks a different kind of legacy.

Ford Model A roadster rearWires, wide-whites and twin pipes – Glenn’s A cuts a sweet profile, while the restrained use of rake and a nudge bar stamp its dry lakes influences. The Improved A body tapers at the doors towards the narrower ’28 cowl, giving the car a unique look

Aussie car legend, the late Milton Adey, began work on the roadster back in the mid-90s. A pioneer drag racer, car builder and long-time Summernats and event announcer, ‘Uncle Milty’ yearned to build a traditional hot rod just like they used to back in the day.

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Ford Model A roadster onroadAt speed you can just hear those twin hotdogs barking off the page! Cycle guards, furry paint and the sans-bonnet finish all pin down the roadster’s timeless look

Starting with an original ’28 A cowl, Milt had a pinched RHS chassis knocked together that mounts a dropped ’38 Ford I-beam front end running ’48 Ford stubs and split-radius rods. A rear chassis graft mounts a banjo-style diff, suspended via a trailing arm and Panhard rod set-up, while brakes all ’round are an HQ disc-and-drum combo activated by a Gemini master cylinder.

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The wheels were sorted early in the piece, with Milt choosing 16-inch ’39 Ford wires fitted with late-model centres and decked out in a combination of Firestone and Lester whitewalls.

Ford Model A roadster frontEngine choice was easy with a number of flatheads at Milt’s disposal; a 239-cuber was topped out with finned Edelbrock heads and a 94 Edelbrock carb on top of a stock intake. Custom headers whisk away the exhaust gases through a pair of hotdog mufflers and the Junior-spec twin pipes. Mated to the early donk is a Falcon single-rail four-speed that hides well out of sight under the roadster shell.

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The factory steel cowl was mocked into place and a repro Improved A body adapted to suit. The wider ’glass rear took some blending to suit the narrower sizing of the early-girl front piece, but gives the body a unique look – and more interior room as a handy payoff. Milton’s original build concept called for a bonnet top and sides, while Pete Duffy hung the doors and sorted the burst-proof locks.

Ford Model A roadsterThe juicy red interior was stitched together by Milty’s mate Sid, and holds court among the gauge-clad stock dash and banjo steering wheel.

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Work progressed at a slow but steady rate into the early 2000s, with the roadster basically complete save for wiring and brake plumbing. As Milton’s health took a turn, work on the roadster ground to a halt until his passing in 2010.

 

Ford Model A wheelsBris Vegas local Kalvin Pollock was scanning eBay later that year and stumbled onto the roadster by accident. “It was advertised in the comics section, so was purely a fluke find,” Kalvin says. “Milton’s son, Grant, was selling it as part of his estate so my good mate Craig and I checked it out.” Craig Lockhart is from East Coast Race Cars, a man who knows plenty about building traditional hot rods, and who left a serious impression on the street-machine scene with his blue XC ute.

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“Craig is like the Yoda of building cool cars,” Kalvin laughs. “We could see potential in the A; even covered in shit and piled into boxes, it had the makings of something sweet. The styling was a little too ratty for me, so we pulled it right down with the aim to build a postwar-style lakes car.”

Ford Model A roadster interiorOmega Kustom instruments and a banjo steering wheel face the juiciest of red interiors. A custom shifter disguises the single-rail four-speed adapted for the flathead, while the subtle body taper is evident from this birds-eye view

Time isn’t too kind to componentry left dormant, so the front end and brakes were overhauled before the engine was checked over and fired into life. “We had a few teething problems with engine oil pressure but eventually got it running sweet. The body was bought wearing a mix of primer patches and bare metal, so was scuffed back and given a rattle-can treatment in flat black.” A push bar and period door numbers cemented the lakes look, and Kalvin got busy using the roadster, rain, hail or shine.

Ford Model A roadster engineA couple of years on, Kalvin needed more room for the family, so the roadster was put up for grabs to help fund a ’33 tudor project.

“It was Christmas 2012 and I spotted the rod online,” says current owner, 30-year-old Glenn Etchell. “I’ve always had older cars and been around them all my life. I wanted a hot rod and this one appealed to me because it already ticked all the boxes. It’s how I would have built it anyway.”

Ford Model A roadster engineA sidevalve of 239 cubes runs finned Edelbrock heads and a single 2bbl Edelbrock 94 carb riding high on a stock intake

The deal was done and the A was shuffled south to Melbourne, where it’s been welcomed with open arms on the local scene. “I haven’t touched a thing! It’s a sturdy, well-built car and definitely not a shitter. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, eh? My girlfriend Emily and I have enjoyed trouble-free motoring so far although the rainy weather can be a little trying! I plan to subtly change the car, but won’t stray too far from its current styling, moreso just personalise it. I’ll add a second carb and tone down the interior trim using a darker red or a brown to make it look more traditional.”

Ford Model A roadster gaugesWith a ’64 Galaxie sedan to his credit and a fastback version in the build, Glenn hopes to add another rod to the stable in the near future. “I need a roof. I’d like to build a Model A coupe. I’m quite fond of this model now and will keep it traditionally styled with a chop and channel”.

“The boys have nailed it,” says Milton’s long-time friend and hot rodder Kerry Digney. “He would be so proud to see the car today. Kalvin, Craig and Glenn have done a fantastic job and I just know he’s been riding with them in spirit with a grin from ear to ear.”

Glenn EtchellGLENN ETCHELL
1928 FORD MODEL A ROADSTER

Colour: Flat Black

DONK
Make: Ford 239ci sidevalve
Block: Factory
Carb: Edelbrock 94 2bbl
Intake: Factory cast single
Heads: Edelbrock finned alloy
Internals: Stock
Camshaft: Mild grind
Ignition: Electronic
Cooling: Fabricated alloy, single thermo
Exhaust: Custom headers with twin hotdogs

SHIFT
Gearbox: Ford single-rail four-speed
Diff: Banjo-style rear end, trailing-arm rear chassis clip

BENEATH
Front: Dropped ’38 Ford axle, ’48 Ford stubs, split-radius rods, four-bar assembly
Rear: Trailing-arm rear chassis clip, Panhard rod & coils
Steering: HQ steering box
Brakes: HQ discs & Girlock calipers (f), HQ drums (r)
Master cylinder: Holden Gemini

WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: ’39 Ford wires; 16x4.5 (f), 16x4.5 (r)
Rubber: Firestone 5.00/5.25-16 (f), Lester 7.00-16 (r)

BODY AND PAINT
’28 steel A cowl matched to ’glass Improved A rear quarters. Rattle-can flat black with added weathering