31 Ford Coupe – Traditional Hot Rod by Randy
1931 Model A Ford Defines Traditional Hot Rods
Randy Brenneis knows hot rods. What makes me so sure? Randy grew up in Anaheim, CA during hot rodding’s glory days of the 1950’s and 60’s. At age 14 he was pit crewing for a friend’s dad at Santa Ana Raceway, the world’s first commercial drag strip, at a time when flags not staging lights sent racers thundering down the quarter mile. How many of us can say that? And although he’s seen many period trends come and go, his true passion has always remained right where it started – traditional hot rods.
With several hot rod builds under his belt and years of experience, Randy isn’t one to shy away from a build or challenge, but at this point in his life he prefers the time spent in his cars more than the time spent under them. So in 2006, when he decided to add another to his list, he wanted something he could make his own that wouldn’t require a full blown resurrection. A quick search turned up a complete 1931 five window coupe in Thousand Oaks, CA that was very close to road worthy.
Although the Ford coupe was a runner, some TLC was needed before becoming the pristine traditional hot rod captured in theses pictures. Initially, the unique stance caught Randy’s eye and he knew exactly how it had been achieved. The front end was bobbed by moving the front springs behind the axle; a popular trick in the early years of rodding Randy witnessed on many cars growing up in SoCal. Since the coupe hadn’t followed more popular trends such as being channeled or put on a 32 frame, Randy’s interest only increased. Many, even you, might think an old school rod has to be on a 32 chassis to be top notch. Randy knew better and his coupe should squash that argument. Agree?
A previous owner chopped the top on the model A coupe, and since the work was high quality, it spared Randy the time of correcting some “shade-tree’s” mistake. Few other exterior modifications have been made with the exception of the hood. Always a fan of louvered hoods, Randy called up his buddy Steve at Lime Works Speed Shop in Whittier to punch out several rows.
While in Lime Work’s possession, Steve also trimmed two inches off the hood sides and rolled down the edges giving it a sleeker profile. Then, just to take it one step further, he added canopy hinges from a WWII plane to attach the hood to the body – a tasteful accent to a quintessential traditional hot rod. Highlighting the true traditional styling is Washington Blue paint, one of the few offerings available on cars in the ‘30s and what has now become one of the most iconic.
Motoring the Model A through Orange County is a 283 small block Chevy. Three Stromberg 97s, finned valve covers and ram horn headers keep the engine bay looking vintage. When Randy picked up the coupe the small block was mated to a powerglide on its last leg, so he stuffed a TH350 in to replace the worn out tranny. The setup is enough to send the Hooker 750 black walls up in smoke with ease. If things get a little too crazy the 1940 Ford drums at each corner bring things back under control.
Up front, the coupe sports an original 1932 Ford grill shell, a piece of rodding history that sadly is becoming harder to find by the day. The original shell is one of Randy’s most prized details on his coupe, and like any true hot rod or custom builder, he doesn’t take shortcuts and just order re pop parts for convenience. In the early days, there were no mass reproduction mail-order parts distributors… if you wanted or needed a desirable part and the local auto-parts store didn’t carry it, well then you had better lace up your Chuck Taylors and pound the pavement at your local swap meet or junkyard.
Interior is kept simple as well. The original style Model A Ford mohair interior remains, but the rare “aristocrat” dash adds style and nostalgia to the cabin. Keeping tabs on the coupe’s vitals are a full set of, what else but, Stewart Warner gauges. The combination is timeless.
At 69 years old, Randy’s love and passion for traditional hot rodding has lasted over 50 years. It’s because of guys like Randy, who didn’t succumb to passing trends and stayed true to his roots, that this culture, this piece of Americana, remains alive. We should all be thankful.
Another traditional hot rod for you to enjoy!
Photos by Trent Sherrill
Model: Crissy Henderson