The advantage that is hot rodding is the ability each of us has to individualize our own car. We could all build Model T’s but in the end the real beauty of hot rodding is that they would all be different. I have seen many street rodders build a car suing virtually the same components, but when finished the difference in the car can be overwhelming or subtle – but there’s a difference.
For starts, the hot rod we feature in this year’s A Guide To Building a Street Rod is a Model T – well, sort of. It is the Shadow Rods XL27, which is a very nice blend of all things golden on the Model T yet enhanced – especially the physical upsizing to that of a Deuce. The XL27 is roomy like a Deuce but retains the unmistakable characteristics that are distinctly Model T. To this it is fitted to a ’32 frame outfitted by Pete & Jakes – both iconic elements in the world of hot rodding. All of us like the beauty line down the side of a ’32 frame, granted the entire car is a thing of beauty, but the side of the framerail really offers something worth staring at. Let’s face it, there’s nothing as good looking beneath any highboy than that of the ’32 frame.
Of course, the nose (or grille shell) of any hot rod sets the tone for the car’s presence along with its stance, which sets the attitude. The presence is easy to achieve. All of us have experimented with enough wheel and tire combos to know how we want our car to look when it is “profiled”. Getting the correct stance is understanding the rake, or ratio of drop in the front to lift in the back. Get that right and the stance of any hot rod is a thing of beauty. Get is wrong and, well, something’s wrong!
Ah, the nose. All of the traditional approaches are there and the XL27 lends itself well to the use of any of the traditional grille shells – the Model T, the Model A, the Deuce, all look good. But if you want to make a statement with your XL27 then you have to go with something like a race car/track nose – a one-of-a-kind effort. That’s exactly the approach we took with our ’10 AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Shadow Rods XL27 highboy roadster pickup. From the get-go we knew we wanted a highboy resting on the revered ’32 ‘rails, combined with the correct bigs ‘n’ littles, and all brought together with a one-of-a-kind grille and insert. The nose and hood are the handiwork of C. Cook Enterprises and an Alumicraft grille insert. There’s no mistaking that the nose/hood combination makes this XL27 stand off from other hot rods much less other Model T’s, no matter the modification.
Virtually all of the components used on the Shadow Rods XL27 are well known and used throughout the street rod industry. Yes, there are some custom touches and that’s what’s expected when you have one of the industry’s leading builders literally handling every nut and bolt, fitting every piece of sheetmetal, and massaging the fit and finish – Zane Cullen of Cotati Speed Shop in Santa Rosa, California, put this hot rod on the map.
What doesn’t come across in pictures is the true fit and finish, the attention to detail, the virtually flawless door function, the true roominess, and the performance Smeding 427-inch Ford V-8 coupled to the Gearstar AOD tranny all deliver. The PPG Sonic Blue pickup delivers when cruising down the highway. Let’s face it, this wouldn’t be much of a hot rod if you couldn’t jump in it and drive anywhere, at any time, at a moment’s notice. As I sit here and write this editorial, Road Tour chauffeur Jerry Dixey has already racked up 18,000-plus miles and is accumulating more every day through his Wheel Vintiques wheels shod in Coker rubber. The truck is all we had hoped for and more. The “more” comes in the “fun factor” and we haven’t seen a grin on Jerry’s face like this since he was running around in muddy shorts at Woodstock. (Yes, our very own mullet-wearing, Elvis-impersonating, Road Tour chauffeur was a child of the ‘60s. Hmmm…some things never do change.)
It is pretty tough to beat a roadster, especially a highboy in the summertime, but couple this with a retractable soft top, side curtains, Wise Guys seating, and Time Machines Unlimited interior all cooled by the Vintage Air system and life doesn’t get any better. Well, it can but then I doubt any of us will ever have the hair, waistline, and looks we had in high school. (That is except for hot rod journalist supreme and a pretty good hot rod builder himself, Senior Editor Ron Ceridono who does but not in the same order or same place!)
Yes, we are building a Shadow Rods XL27 on the following pages, but much of the principles you see can be incorporated in any hot rod you wish to build. The real idea is to get out there and enjoy the hobby as you will find it regarding and fun. The best part: that’s up to you. Some rodders enjoy the build, some enjoy the drive – your choice.