When the 1928 Model A Ford arrived at dealerships in North America, it replaced the Model T that had owned the road the previous two decades.
Solid engineering, updated styling and a palatable price helped Ford sell 208,562 units in its first year of production. On the surface it didn't look like anything monumental, but as history bears, it was the new foundation the Ford Motor Company would be built upon.
When it came to trucks back then, they were generally the heavy-duty workhorses of the day and not easily suited to light-duty hauling.
At the Ford Motor Company, the solution was to simply use a short two-door car body with a small box in back to make a light-duty pickup truck.
Small, versatile and as easy to drive as any car, the Model A pickup was a popular model. Built initially as an open car, the closed-cab version wouldn't be available until later in 1928, so the early AR models have some additional value because of some unique features, such as a left-hand parking brake.
Today, there's many restored examples of the early Model A Ford. But most are sought after as the basis for building a hot rod, with the roadster at the top of the list.
For Ted Klatt of Winnipeg, his 1928 Model A Ford roadster pickup was found in 1975 around Killarney, Man. After cutting down several trees growing through the frame rails, Klatt was able to drag it out of the bush and have a good look at it. The body had virtually no rust and retained the original windshield frame and dash, including the speedometer.
Right from the start, Klatt wanted to build the truck into a street rod. He started by selecting newer components for the drivetrain and suspension.
Bob Forzley at Forzley Chassis was selected to do the frame build that included a new mid-mount K-member and full four-bar rear suspension to support the 1975 Corvette independent rear suspension.
Up front, there's a Daygo four-inch dropped I-beam front axle, with a '66 Mustang steering box activated by a Mustang steering column and Superior wood and chrome steering wheel. Brakes are four-wheel disc from Total Performance and a '70s Vega fuel tank rests beneath the truck box.
Rolling stock consists of B. F. Goodrich T/A radial tires on red Ford steel wheels with chrome caps and beauty rings.
Inside, the original drum speedometer is flanked by newer Stewart-Warner gauges, and Klatt rewired the entire vehicle. Ron's Custom Upholstery installed the brown Naugahyde tuck-and-roll pattern upholstery.
The original top bows were stripped and covered with a new Lebaron-Bonney tan coloured Hartz cloth top. A rechromed windshield frame sports new tinted safety glass and wind wings.
Klatt, a bodyman with more than 30 years of experience, put his talents to use massaging the bumps and dents out of the body and original steel front fenders and running boards. The rear fenders are fibreglass reproduction units, while the box sides and tailgate are steel reproductions.
Up front, Klatt hand fabricated a three-piece aluminium hood and fitted a '32 Ford grille shell over a Walker radiator to keep things cool. Painted in black lacquer with red accents, it has the stance and look only a vintage street rod has.
For power, this Ford is all Ford and sports a 1970s era 302-cubic-inch small-block V-8 from a Mustang. Fitted with Cal Chrome oil pan, valve covers and air cleaner for added bling, it exhales through a 2.5-inch diameter custom dual-exhaust system with Walker mufflers. Backing the engine is a Ford C4 three-speed automatic transmission with a Genie floor shift.
Finished in 1980, Klatt's first outing with the truck was to the World of Wheels show at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. After having the truck at a few more shows and driving it to several rod runs, Klatt sold the pickup in 1984.
"After I did it I felt it was a mistake," said Klatt.
With Klatt keeping tabs on the vehicle, he waited patiently until he was able to repurchase it in 2009.
"It took 25 years, but it's back where it belongs," said Klatt.
He's made a few subtle changes and upgrades over the years, but for the most part it retains the same vintage look of its original build.
The Manitoba Street Rod Association will hold their 22nd annual Toy Run Sunday, Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Revenue Canada parking lot on Stapon Road across from Sears at Kildonan Place Shopping Centre. Entry to the show for participants is a new unwrapped toy or cash donation, with all proceeds going to the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation. Come out and support one of the year's last great car shows. For more information on Sunday's show, contact Duncan at 204-771-2086 or www.msra.mb.ca.