Shoe This. A Blending Of Two Ford Decades Into A Traditional Hot Rod

Third-generation hot rod builder, Jacob Griffin, may be considered a “Young Gun” car builder by today’s standards, but he was born into this industry. His grandfather, Jerry Griffin, took on NASCAR’s best back in the early 1970s, racing in NASCAR’s Grand National events out West.

Grandfather Jerry Griffin racing Richard Petty at Riverside International Raceway in a 1970 NASCAR event.

He was also a contender in NASCAR’s Pro West Series, running out of the sleepy little farm town of Escondido, California. He once teamed up with West Coast racer Jerry Grant as a team member and backup driver for Grant’s Indy car team in 1968. Sadly, he never turned a lap in qualifications. Father, Brian Griffin, also ran the oval tracks in southern California, mostly sporting his own number 90 and 290 at the Bythe and El Cajon asphalt ovals with much success.

Jacob’s grandfather Jerry Griffin, and father Brian Griffin, were both fixtures on the West Coast circle tracks.

Being the most recent Escondido Griffin entering into the motorsports industry, Jacob feels the burn to succeed. He has worked alongside dad Brian at Griffin Designs, earning his stripes. It was only recently that he decided to take on a build of his very own, with no help from outside … not even dad. “I wanted to know if I could do it. There was only one way to find out,” he said. Not only did he find out, but the rest of the custom auto builders found out as well.

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A unique build with a '27 Model T front and main body with a '51 shoebox rear and Buick V-6 engine.

Taking several honors at local cars shows, Jacob decided to move into a higher class of competition. He took his completed hot rod to the Goodguys Des Moines, Iowa, show to measure how well a West Coast Young Gun’s build would measure up. Walking away with an award for Period Correct Hot Rod, Jacob’s new car was a success. At the Goodguys Pleasanton show later in the year, Jacob won the Young Gun Award of Excellence before coming back home and cleaning up the awards at a couple of local shows.

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When your name is Griffin, you make sure it shows up on your car.

Awards So Far (Out of Five Total Show Competed):

  • Goodguys Des Moines: Period Perfect Hot Rod
  • Goodguys Pleasanton: Young Gun Award Of Excellence
  • Crusing Grand: Show Winner
  • Cruising For A Cure: Best Young Gun Award

About The Build

Jacob started out with a 1927 Ford Model-T roadster and carefully blended in some parts from a shoebox Ford. The shoebox is partially where the car’s name, “Shoe This” came from. Coming from a family of “hot shoe” circle track racers, the name fits well. “When I get the time and money, I’m going to build a circle track racecar and see what I can do there too,” he warns prospective competitors  while dreaming of following the family’s tradition.

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If blending two different Ford models from two very different eras wasn’t enough, Jacob stepped way out of the box and fit a Blown Buick V-6 in the engine bay. “It was something different. Something that not everyone else was doing,” he said. “I had to do some searching to find parts that I could massage and make work with this build.” Champion Cooling Systems provides the heat exchanging radiator to maintain a cool environment for the Buick powerplant.

How It Was Customized To Work Together

The 1927 Model T was dramatically shortened from a four-door and converted into two-door roadster. Sectioning and molding a 1951 Ford rear body section to complete the initial body mods, Griffin turned to handcrafting custom made headlights, molding them into the 1927 Ford grill shroud, along with the ’51s ornamental nose bullet.


One of the best features in the bodywork is the careful manipulation of the 1951’s Ford dash into the T-bucket’s cowl and bodywork. It looks like it was made that way from the factory, and a casual observer wouldn’t know any different. The body is finished in a PPG White Platinum Pearl, which has to be viewed in the right light to get the total essence of the color choice.

“These two bodies were not in great shape when I started,” said Griffin. “I took two cars that were beyond repair and cut them up to make one good one.” Everyone wins with that kind of a dreamer’s attitude. Taking two cars that were never going to be on the road again and combining them into one hot rod that gets driven is a net gain to us.

The Engine

What most people migrate to first is the impressive engine that is topped with a monster blower. The Buick engine choice is part of the overall motivation and theme of the project. “I was talking with my dad about doing something different,” the younger Griffin said, “he told me to ‘Never let your dream catch you sleeping,’ which resounded with me,” he added. “So I started looking for an unlikely combination that would still kick ass.”

Griffin was warned not to use a V-6 Buick by experienced builders. They explained that some of the components weren’t available to make the drivetrain work correctly. “We found the one guy that said he could make the flexplate for us,” Griffin explained. “We had to buy two of them because it was hand build. The first was built pretty much at cost for the manufacturer, the second one was where he earned his profit. That was the deal we made.”

Opting to use a 209 stage 2, non-production Buick block stuffed with a forged 4340 crank, Carrillo rods, JE Pistons, and a Comp Cam, the short-block foundation was set. Using Buick stage 2 aluminum cylinder heads with titanium valves, the engine’s compression measured out at 10.25:1. Add a Hilborn direct fuel-injection system, Hampton stage 3 blower, and tuning by Machine Tech in Oceanside, California, and you end up with a 1,200 horsepowered street monster.

More Goodies

Hanging behind the monster V-6 is a beefed up Turbo 400 that twists a custom driveshaft. A Ford 9-inch rearend spins a set of gold Artillery wide-five wheels that are covered in Firestone, original tube-type 6.50/16 wide white walls. Currently, the braking is provided by Ford drum brakes all around, but Griffin plans on changing that to disc brakes soon. The front suspension is fairly traditional with split wishbone radius rods, while the rear uses a four-link with coilovers.

The windshield is custom glass and frame, raked to make the overall stance and appearance look like it came out of the ’50s heading to the dry lakes. The interior sports two bucket seats and full panels and trim by Old Town Upholstery.

Considering that Jacob has only owned the hot rod slightly under a year, doing all the work except the engine, pinstriping, and gold leaf, and completing it in under six months … we really can’t wait to see what is next for this builder. “I haven’t had the car out much on the road. Just in and out of shows because it is too much of an animal to put on city roads.”

Taking that lesson into his next build sounds promising. He owns a 1952 Ford custom, and recently picked up a 1967 F100 pickup. There’s plenty to work with there. “I like that I was able to bring this car from a drawing to life with my own two-hands,” he said. “I hate how everyone thinks my car is fiberglass when it is all steel.” There’s no doubt that this dreamer is going to come up with another impressive build in the next six months.

The body is so seamless that many assume that it is fiberglass, a thought that builder Jacob hates.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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