Sunday, November 29, 2009


My older son, Cameron, who could frankly give a rat's ass (IMHO) about the car projects in our garage walks up to the T and sees a group of color chips sitting in the car. He goes right to one of them and starts into an impassioned speech about how badass the color is. It's called Washington Square and basically it's a dark purple, bordering on eggplant. The chips are semi-gloss so it's a fair representation of suede. Now I must confess that given my well-documented love of Mercury Charlie's Tall T, going with this color would not require a lot of arm twisting. It would be like paying tribute to the inspiration, even though Charlie's car was technically  black with a cool set of purple Von Franco flames with lavendar pinstriping. My son then started lobbying for a pearl white interior. Wow. Maybe there's a gearhead trapped beneath all that teen angst after all. Time will tell. Washington Square. It's on the list. Close to the top. Interesting.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Here's a real simple East Coast tall T I'm partial to.

This one is awesome, too. Love the color and the wheels in particular.

No tall T blog can be complete without the "Uncertain-T".

Oh, and let's not forget the Tall T that Dan Stoner is having built by Tim Condor @ Condor Custom

(Special thanks to the HAMB)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Color thoughts

I want this car to have a suede paint job.  I personally think T's look best in dark colors, so I'm leaning towards a super dark red. I've been seeing deep reds, black cherries and maroons that I'm digging.
Jeep, Lexus, and Mazda all currently have these colors. It seems like a two stage paint with a flattened clear is a good way to go as it offers a protective barrier for the metal.
I believe the Mazdas are a mica which has a lot of metal flake in it. I'm also looking at real dark egg plants/plums. I'm thinking that a dark red exterior would look good with a red interior and I'm really liking the idea of incorportating red glitter vinyl into the interior.
It might be even be cool to go metalflake red on the roof for contrast and perhaps some tasty metal flake scallops on the body as well. Red or maroon would be a good color for the nailhead as well.
Time will tell.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mock One Up

So here's the desired ride height. Low. Just imagine rear slicks tucked up nice and tight to the rear wheel wells, a chopped 32 grill shell and wide white walls on chrome reverse wheels.
I've been picturing it in my head for years now.


There was a time when I had no idea what a Buick Nailhead was. That all changed a dozen years ago when I bought a 1965 Buick Riviera. The initial appeal for me was the beautiful lines of the car but the more I drove it,  the more deeply I came to appreciate its 401 nailhead motor.  Its low throaty purr. The gobs of torque it produced with nary a hiccup. Before long, I was under the hood of that Riviera loving on that Nailhead like my own dear sweet mama had berthed it. And while I no longer own my Riviera, I now harbor a deep appreciation for the motors that the General put into the mid 50's to 60's era Buicks. So imagine my delight when while shopping for a model A or T hot rod, I came across a 1929 Ford Model A roadster with a 66 425 Nailhead. I subsequently purchased the car from Ian Loska in California and had it shipped out to Austin. Then disaster struck. On my tenth day of owning it, a car pulled out and front of me a freeze like a deer in my headlights. I'll skip the gory details, other that to say the car was totaled, leaving in a one-man battle with Liberty Mutual Insurance for six months. I fought tooth and nail to get a fair settlement, which is ironic their customer admitted full fault. What a pain in my ass. But I digress. The small bit of good news was that the 425/Turbo400 drivetrain survived except for a bent rear end. I ultimately purchased what remained of the roadster with my settlement and set out to find a new home for the 425 engine and its accompanying Turbo 400 transmission.

Hubba hubba.


With the body stowed safely in ye old HouseOSpeed man cave, it was time to take inventory. Yup, it's a real nice body and includes all windows, garnish moldings, a dash, a new wood kit for the roof and yes, even the stock seats. I'll snap shots of those at some point. In negotiating the price, I agreed to leave the drivetrain and frame with Marshall. The plan for the car is to leave the roof at stock height, but to channel the body over a custom frame to ride nice and low in period sixties style (cue the Munster's music). I'll be using all the goodies left over from my crashed roadster, such as a 68 Buick 12-bolt rear from a Riviera, the Schneider-cammed Buick 425 Nailhead and a burly Turbo 4oo tranny. As you can see here, I couldn't resist doing a little mock up. Boys will be boys.


Imagine waiting months for a car to arrive after purchase. Well, I did and it was well worth the wait.

 Here's was the conundrum: I'd already purchased as a pair of less intact coupes, thinking I'd turn two okay bodies into one good one. Then fate intervened. My son, Drew, found a listing for a 1926 T body in April of 08. The car was a world away in Iowa but it looked nice. Really, really nice. It was owned by a long-time vintage restoration hobbyist named Marshall Daut and even though I really didn't need another body, I called on it. The car's story was intriguing. A stalled restoration of an AZ car that got shelved in 1984 after the engine's rebuild was bungled by a guy who passed away before he could make it right. The straight, fully prepped restoration-ready body was parked in frustration back in 1984 and had sat dormant until 2004, when Daut moved to Iowa. Once in Iowa, the car was stored in the Daut's carriage house, where it remained untouched until the day Marshall decided to list it. Marshall, sensing I was genuinely interested on the phone, mentioned that he had a friend who could probably move it to Texas for a "friendly" price, if I would be willing to wait until summer to take delivery.
He was also willing to keep it warm and dry until it was ready to be transported. A deal was struck and in the meantime, I was able to do some spring cleaning and find a new home for the two bodies I'd already purchased. I can't thank Marshall Daut enough by how flexible he was with me on the terms of the purchase. He was an absolute joy to deal with and I felt he was as genuinely excited for me as I was. By the time the car arrived in late August, I'd cleared space for it and it was everything Marshall described to be. And even though my plan for the car wasn't exactly Marshall's cup of tea, his only request was that I didn't "screw up the car's lines by chopping it". I was more than happy to agree to his only stipulation. BTW, if you ever need anything moved from Iowa, you should strongly consider Marshall's friend's company Steve Gripp's Service, who was also a pleasure to deal with, not only delivering the car on time and for a great deal, but helping get it rolled into its new home.

Boy, there are some good folks in Iowa.


This whole nutty idea started years ago when I first laid eyes on Mercury Charlie's Austin, Texas-based Tall T Coupe. To say I was smitten would be an understatement. Hand-built from a clean 26/27 Model T coupe body that had been in Vernon McKeen's custody for decades, Charlie had cobbled together a period-perfect sixties style hot rod in just 30 short days, then drove the bad boy all the way to Paso Robles, CA without incident to debut it.  In doing so, he singlehandedly turned the hot rod/kustom car world on its ear, arriving in a car unlike anything seen in ions. The car went on to appear in numerous articles recapping the show. As far as I was concerned, Charlie's T was pivotal in making T's cool again and anyone who now owns one knows what I'm talking about.
So why a T for me? Being 6' 5", all it took was one ride in Charlie's car to make me know I'd one day have one. In fact, if it wasn't for a separate conversation I'd had with Will Muntz, I probably would have bought Charlie's car when the opportunity arose. Will Muntz had the good fortune (or soon I say misfortune?) of purchasing Steve Wertheimer's very well-known California Kid roadster from Steve a few years prior. According to Will, everywhere he drove that car, he heard the same question, "Hey, what are you doing in Steve's car?".  For that very reason, I knew that I would have to build my own Tall T. And so the search for a suitable body began. A search that consumed years and included the purchase of two other T coupes before finding the suitable candidate. Now that I have I found a great body, it would be disingenuous of me not to acknowledge Charlie and his car as forces that have inspired me to build this car. I'm not out copy Charlie's T mind you, but simply put, no Tall T I have ever seen has tripped my trigger like Charlie's car. It's stance is perfect, IMHO. The wheels are boss. Of course, I'll pick a different color, a different drivetrain and components, but at the end of the day, I just want to capture sixties cool as well as Charlie did. So thanks for the inspiration, my friend. We both know you've set the bar is high. I'm all in.