Family-Built 1927 Model T
The way Kyle and Brad Wiersma put it, all cars pale in comparison to the 1927 Ford Model T.
“You get a lot of attention with it,” Kyle says. “[Ours] has been a bigger hit than we thought it would be.”
In the mid-1990s, Kyle and Brad’s father, Randy, was on the hunt for the right Model T. As the founder of Randy’s Body Shop in Paducah, Ky.—from which he has since retired, passing the keys to Kyle and Brad—a customer with a large collection of antique automobiles decided to give Randy a 1927 Model T in exchange for doing work on another car.
The car was completely original, down to the factory sheet metal, wooden spokes on the wheels and its canvas top from 1927. Originally, Randy wanted to restore the car to factory condition and use it to drive around car shows with friends, but after starting the project in the early 2000s, he decided to go the full-on hot rod route.
The car was almost completely dismantled, so Randy, Kyle and Brad started by stripping the metal and repairing any minor dents.
“It wasn’t a wreck or anything,” says Brad. “But for a car from 1927, it had some abuse to it.”
Next, they built a custom 2-inch by 3-inch square tube chassis made of steel tubing that was stepped in the rear and fitted with custom-molded running board brackets. A 6-inch drop axle, flanked by Mr. Roadster spindles and GM disc brakes, buries the nose into the ground.
The engine is a 151ci four cylinder from a 1980 Oldsmobile with a pair of Harley Davidson carburetors on a custom intake Randy built, along with a custom-made air cleaner, valve cover, header and exhaust system.
“It’s a real simple, clean motor that you can put on anything you want to,” Kyle says.
Next, he selected a GM 700R4 transmission to hook up to the Iron Duke engine.
While the father and sons wanted to maintain the original look of the car, they did make several modern modifications. The car originally had a convertible top, but Randy thought it would look better without it. But removing it left a windshield that stood too tall. They reduced the size of the windshield by 6 inches.
“If you leave the top off the car, it had a goofy windshield sticking up off there,” says Kyle. “Plus those openings are real big on the side.”
Other modifications include filling the extra body holes, making custom pieces to cover the original hood weather strip channels, and fabricating a one-piece hood, which was hand-built by an employee who was a former sheet metal worker.
While all of the bodywork was performed at Randy’s Body Shop, a local upholstery shop completed the interior. Randy selected cherry red leather for a pop of color, which was also carried through in the wheels.
“It needed something else to just set it off,” Kyle says. “It was something that turns your eye to it.”
The modified original dash was fitted with TPI instruments, a brass Model T steering wheel and a Speedway steering column.
Finally, they smoothed the original steel body and fenders before painting it a matte black.
“The black paint and red interior just adds to the hot rod kind of a look,” Brad says.
All in all, the restoration took a year and a half, with countless hours and dollars spent.
“We were too scared to add it all up,” Kyle says.
After completing the work in 2006, the Wiersmas brought the car to a Good Guys show, where it won the “Terrific T” award. While the family doesn’t bring it to many car shows anymore, they still use it for special occasions, such as weddings and graduations.
“You get a lot of attention with this one,” Brad says.