Tips, Tricks & Trends

This 1929 Ford Model A Is Not What It Seems

Early American Cars are super cool and classy looking. Still, it took the early builders a while to get your average car to a place where any semblance of speed or performance was readily available. The Ford Model A from the late ‘20s is one such car that isn’t exactly known for its speed and performance – at least most Model As… 

A Finnish rally driver recently posted on a Facebook page that he has a 1929 Ford Model A shipped to Finland, according to The Drive. The driver, who The Drive believes to be WRC Champion Juha Kankkuen, mentioned that upon arrival in Finland, the Ford was sent to Ferrari and vintage car specialist Makela Auto Tuning. The shop immediately stripped the Model A down to its frame and began a wild resto-mod rally car. 

The 1929 Ford Model A needed some chassis work 

The folks at Makela Auto Tuning started repairing and reinforcing the original frame to give it more strength and rigidity. They did this by adding additional bracing all the way down the frame. The bodywork came next for the MAT crew. They sanded the Ford Model A down to the metal and replaced any rusted spots with new metal before painting. 

Custom 1929 Ford Model A
Custom 1929 Ford Model A | Makela Auto Tuning

This Model A would have originally come with wooden wheels, and while the ones pictured appear wooden, they are not. MAT cast new 19-inch wheels from aluminum in the same style as the original. The cast-aluminum wheels were then hand-painted to look like wooden wheels. 

Other touches of the modern world are scattered around the Ford Model A as well, like a GPS speedometer and harness seatbelts. 

The Ford Model A ditched the original 3.3-liter engine for a Cosworth 

The 1929 Ford Model A came with a 3.3-liter four-cylinder engine that made a sluggish 40 hp. Not only was this original 3.3-liter big and heavy So, for the rally driver to throw a 1.6-liter 242-hp Cosworth into the Ford means not only way more power but also lighter weight. Of course, the engine isn’t the only performance upgrade; it also has a close-ratio five-speed from ZF, sending that power to the rear wheels.

Custom 1929 Ford Model A | Makela Auto Tuning
1.6-liter Cosworth retrofit| Makela Auto Tuning

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The rear axle is said to be from a 1985 Toyota 4×4 van (likely a Hiace).  The rear axle is held up by a four-link suspension, while the front axle works with a track rod, stiffer stock-style springs, and friction-disc shock absorbers from an Aston Martin DB4. 

The coolest feature on the Model A is more James Bond than Group 4 rally

Custom 1929 Ford Model A
Custom 1929 Ford Model A | Makela Auto Tuning

MAT added one of the coolest and most incognito features I’ve ever heard of in this 1929 Ford Model A rally machine, a secret button. This secret button is hidden on the back of the shifter. This secret button switches between a full-power mode and one that kills every third spark. Not only does this button give the Cosworth that classic Ford Flathead sound, but it also doubles to provide a cover for the cops. In the event of a traffic stop, just flick the button, and it sounds like your just driving pop pop’s old 40-hp Ford around town. 

Ford Model A on the surface, rally grandpa down deep

These types of sleeper cars are the coolest to me. Nothing about the style or the car’s build tips its hat to performance or speed, and yet this thing will boogie with the best of them. Cars like these keep the custom-car dream alive in a world of increasing ambiguity and formless design.