At 92 years young, Phil Reed isn’t planning his retirement, taking countless European vacations or spending hours gardening in his yard. Instead, he’s enjoying his hot rod. But unlike the popular Deuce Coupes you see at every show or cruise night, Phil’s ride is a bit on the non-traditional side. It is, after all, a rodded out 1927 Ford Model-T roadster, and that’s not the only unique thing it has going for it.
We first got word about Phil and his hot rod from the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association. As it turns out, they were so impressed with the roadster that they featured it in one of their latest Gazette publications. So when we got a chance to get the full scoop on Phil’s hot rod and talk to his son Mike, we jumped at the opportunity.
It was only recently that Phil’s Model-T was built, but the dream behind the car was a long time in the making.
You see, Phil used to race USAC Midgets with his son and it was there that he fell in love with the tiny V8-60 engine. Wanting to implement the classic engine in a project, Phil decided on the perfect build.
“He wanted to build himself a hot rod at 90 years old, so we built him one,” Phil’s son Mike told us in a phone interview.
So with a dream engine in mind, the project began. Phil had a stock Model-T frame and part of a stock Model-T body just laying around, so that became the base of the hot rod. A man by the name of Marcel Delay added his talent to the project, creating the rear half of the roadster body to match what Phil already had.
The Model-T frame was completely boxed in, and a ‘36 Ford axle with split wishbones was used for the front of the hot rod while the Reeds opted for a Speedway Engineering Quick Change setup in the rear. Both the front and rear of the car feature leaf spring suspensions with the frontend sporting disc brakes and the rear sporting Ford drums.
Now, the engine was a bit more complicated and a long-time friend of the Reeds and well-known name in the engine building industry decided to step in and help with the project.
“Ed Pink wanted to take on the project of building this motor,” Mike said.
With Pink’s name behind it, the little V8-60 quickly turned into a unique piece of its own. Pink machined a special front cover for the engine out of billet aluminum which now houses a unique integrated water pump and an oil pump off a Cosworth Indy engine. Pink also equipped the engine with Offenhauser heads, Carrillo rods, an Ed Meyer intake, and a Mallory transistor ignition system. Instead of the original 60hp, this little V8-60 is now cranking out about 120hp.
The engine, is backed by a T-10 four-speed transmission, which pushes the power to the Halibrand Indy Wheels wrapped in Firestone dirt track rubber, chosen after the stock wire wheels were ruled out as a viable match for the increased power.
“It’ll run down the road all day long, just cruising along,” said Mike.
A tan leather-wrapped interior done by Franks Upholstery in Monticello, California and custom Classic Instrument gauges gives the car a classic elegance while custom mixed deep red paint gives the roadster an eye-catching pop. The car also features a DuVall-style windshield from Speedway Motors, adding even more unique flair to a one-of-a-kind hot rod.In total, the build took about three and a half years to complete. With Mike hard at work at the family Electronic Chrome and Grinding shop in Santa Fe Springs, California, which specializes in hard chrome, grinding crankshafts for Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters, and oil well components, most of the assembly work went to Phil’s long-time friend Frank Jones.
Since the hot rod was completed, Phil has taken the car to a few shows in the Southern California area, including the Goodguys 2011 Fall Del Mar Nationals over Thanksgiving weekend where the car took home four different awards. At that event, the hot rod took home the Goodguys Gazette Pick, Terrific T (best Model-T) Award, Award of Excellence, and the Best Engine Award. Phil’s hot rod was also recently featured in Ed Pink’s booth at the Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals over the weekend of March 30th.
While some may find it a bit unusual to be just getting into hot rodding at 92 years old, Phil is no stranger to classic cars. In fact, he currently has a collection of about 30 cars that he’s restored since the 1960s, including a ‘29 Stutz Blackhawk that he still takes to shows when he doesn’t have the hot rod out.
Phil also owns a ’77 Corvette with less than 50,000 original miles on it and recently bought himself a ’06 Shelby Mustang Cobra GT 500 that’s only been driven 150 miles in its life. In addition to its low miles and superior Ford status, the Mustang holds an extra special place in automotive history, featuring the late Carol Shelby’s signature on the dashboard. So what’s Phil’s daily driver? A ’10 Mini Cooper S, although many of his other cars get driven now and again.
In talking with Mike, it was obvious how much Phil enjoys his cars, especially the Model-T. If we’re fortunate to make it to 92 years old, we can only hope that we’ll be able to do the same.
“He just loves his little hot rod,” said Mike. “He has it out almost every weekend.”