Built on Faith, Dave Smith’s TCI Equipped ’28 Coupe

We all have different reasons for building our cars. Sometimes it’s something nostalgic about a certain year or generation of car, other times it’s because that particular car just is what caught our eyes. Sometimes, though, the motivation to build a new project comes from a higher calling.

That higher calling is what inspired Dave Smith to build this beautiful 1928 Ford Type 49A coupe. Dave is an active member of Christian Rods and Customs, this association provides chapel services, and outreach at car shows. They not only provide the service but also participate in the shows as well. These are real car guys (and gals) who can relate to others in the hobby.

Smith had a roadworthy and functional T-bucket, which had been in service for number of years. However, as time had gone on the bucket was increasingly less comfortable for he and his wife to drive to shows, especially on the longer road trips or during inclement weather. Smith along with his fellow church and club members began praying and searching for a suitable special project car that he could replace his T-bucket with.

A friend would eventually tell Smith of a Model A he’d seen but deemed too much work. Smith’s pastor nudged him pointing out that he had been praying to find a “special” car. Two truck loads later the disassembled but Model A was Smiths and the T-bucket was subsequently offered for sale and left his possession.

Smith spent the next two years getting the car ready. This included putting it on a Total Cost Involved full show package chassis. The car then went to Brea Hills Auto Collision, in Brea, CA, for paint and the remaining body work. With the car in primer and ready to go back to the house for fitment before the final paint work could be completed, Smith was informed by the shop owner that he could leave the car there and continue working on it.

Eventually, like what happens with so many projects, Smith was running out of money in the budget for the project. A man of faith, he literally got on his knees and prayed to find the means to complete the car, which was vital for his outreach mission. The following day he was asked by the shop owner to help with another car they were completing. The shop owner made a deal with Smith, he would trade him hour for hour, Smith’s work on cars at the shop for the shop’s work on his own car. This arrangement worked out well, as Smith was recently retired. The swapping of time lasted seven years until the car was completed.

The car’s color was inspired by it’s TCI chassis. The green is a custom color mixed for TCI that they used for chassis parts in their catalog and show displays several years ago. The chassis is one of TCI’s old show pieces, and the exterior of the cart was painted to match. Smith says, “People tell me they don’t like green, but they like green on my car.”

The car’s upholstery was completed by Collins Trim Shop on La Habra, CA. The interior features a ’40 Ford steering wheel, column and shifter given to Smith by a friend. The instrument panel was made by tracing one for a ’32 Ford, cutting the coupe’s dash, then welding a rod around and welding the panel back in on the dash side, this created the recessed look for the gauges. The auxiliary panel which contains the ignition switch, other gauges and controls was also custom built by Smith. Air conditioning comes from a used unit that used to supply cool air to the rear of a limousine. This was the only piece small enough that Smith could find to fit in the small confines of his dash.

Everything in the interior is double and triple insulated to reduce noise and heat. There’s also a Soff Seal kit to help seal it all up.

Power comes from a Chevy Performance Goodwrench 350 Crate engine, and shifts are via a 200R-4 overdrive trans. The rear end is a nine-inch with 3.70 gears. Smith also installed dual tanks under the splash apron that are filled from a single point in the rear of the car. The modest gearing, over drive and increased fuel capacity ensure that the coupe can make it long distances comfortably.

That TCI chassis rides on a custom four link rear suspension and independent front suspension. Wilwood four wheel discs handle stopping duties, the wheels come from Wheel Vintiques and are painted the right hue to compliment the car’s TCI green paint.

Other exterior modifications include the use of a modified stair hand rail to create the rear bumper. The unique bumper coupled with the rear louvers required the use of ’41 Chevy tail lights recessed into the rear fenders. The hood is also louvered, lending further to the old school hot rod feel of this car.

After 12 years, with most of them involving the build, Smith and his wife can be found cruising the ’28 on weekends. They are still involved with Christian Rods and Customs and travel with the group to shows around California and as far away as Kansas. Smith’s car draws attention wherever it goes and was even recently featured on the TCI Facebook page.

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About the author

Don Creason

Don Creason is an automotive journalist with passions that lie from everything classic, all the way to modern muscle. Experienced tech writer, and all around car aficionado, Don's love for both cars and writing makes him the perfect addition to the Power Automedia team of experts.
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