Ford ZETEC Powered 1929 Lakes Modified Roadster

Bonneville Salt Flats Inspired Hot Rod

rex Schimmer's 1929 Lakes Modified roadster at Speedweek 2009 coutesy of Speedhunters.comThanks to for this beautiful shot of Rex’s amazing Lakes Modified roadster at Speedweek 2009.

If you had the engineering and fabrication skills of Rex Schimmer, how would you build a Model A roadster?  If (or when) I build a roadster, it could look much like this 1929 Lakes Modified Ford roadster!  Rex is actually a member.  You can see his MyRideisMe Garage and make his ride one of your favorites and put him in your “crew” like I did.

Rex’s roadster is unmistakeably a traditional style Lakes Modified build, but it is also very unique and one of a kind.  Read on to find out exactly what went into this 7 year project, which culminated in the ultimate drivable roadster you see here.
Rex and his pride and joy, a 1929 Lakes Modified RoadsterRex: How did I get into cars?
Been a car guy since I was 11 or 12. I started reading the “small” magazines, Rod and Custom, Car Craft, etc. around 1955 and bought my first car, 1953 Ford Victoria hardtop in 1958. I dropped it using dropped spindles, cut coils and a de-arched spring, removed the hood and trunk chrome, frenched the head lights and painted it bright red. Got involved in drag racing with some friends and belonged to the local hot rod club. Since that time I have always been involved in cars some way. I worked for several racing teams in the late 70s early 80s. I was at Indy in 1983 with Interscope Racing, Danny Ongais.

Rex: Why did I choose the Ford ZETEC 4 cylinder engine?

I picked the ZETEC because you could get a nice manifold for injection from the SCREAM people and I wanted to run Hilborn injection. The motor is stock internally, I thought real hard about doing some cams but I have found that what you really want, if you drive them, is mid range torque and a set of cams would give me more hps above 4500 but not help the mid range. I am planning to do a couple of things to try to fatten the mid range, change the inlet ram tubes, add some adjustable cam pulleys and mess with them,  but I am also considering a small blower at 5-7 lbs of boost. Talked to Jerry Magnuson at Bonneville and he said he had some small blowers that could work. I think that I could mount it on the right side of the engine if I moved a couple of things. I think that the DURATEC that is in the later Focus is a better engine mainly because of the 17% displacement increase plus they are lighter and you can use the Ford pickup gear box. If I did it again I would really think about a Nissan 2.4 motor as my son has one in his Datsun 510 and it goes like stink!! My motor is from a 2000 Escort ZX2

Rex: Why did I build this kind of car?
I built this type of car because I think it is an example of a type of car that was popular in the 30s and 40s but of course with a modern approach by using many modern parts, electronic fuel injection, disc brakes etc. I feel that my car is a “traditional” hot rod and by that I define traditional by being a car that is not your standard “belly button” car and it was build completely by myself, no high dollar shops or help, minamal purchased “bolt on’ parts and I think this makes it unique.
Hilborn Injected 2.0L Ford ZETEC powered 1929 Ford Roadster

Rex: Is this my first roadster?
No, I had a full fendered 1928 roadster back around 1968. It had a 400 inch Olds, C&O hydro, Olds rear end and it went like hell but was pretty scary going fast. Then, I got stuck on dirt bikes in the 70s and sold the ’28 to buy a new Husky 400 to race.

Rex: What was the inspiration for building my car the way I did?
I have a wall covered with sketches that I have done for different kinds of rods that I have thought about building, (none of them are ’32’s!) I started envisioning my ’29 probably in the late 1990’s and refined it as I kept thinking about it. I liked the look and I was determined to be different, like using a 4 cylinder of some sort, have it sit low, and have it involve a fair amount of fabrication, becasue that is what I like to do. In 2000 I had a small health scare and while sitting in my bedroom during the recovery I was thinking that if I am going to build a hot rod I had better get started! So I started buying some of the things that I knew I would need;  frame rails, body panels, sheets of aluminum, lengths of tubing, etc. Once I was active again I got started, and it took me 7 years to build.

Hand crafted all aluminum interior is all businessRex: What does my car say about me?
Hard question! I like low cars, always have. I want my car to be different, which I think it is. My approach to building my car shows my engineering and fabrication background. One of the things that I like is that when I park my car, it is usually surrounded by “old farts” like myself, and they are looking at the details that I have done on my car and appreciating the engineering and fabrication that I have put into it. That is probably one of the reasons that I doubt I will ever really completely paint my car. Once you add paint then people start looking at the paint and not the car. Another reason is that I am a terrible painter!!

Rex’s Spec Sheet

Car is a 1929 Ford Model A roadster pickup, lakes modified.  All body panels are Brookville skins that I modifed to fit my vision of my car.

Body mods:

Doors are now flush fitting and have been lengthened 1 inch

Grille shell narrowed 5 inches

Cowl narrowed 3 inches

Rear qtarter panels have been lengthened 6 inches at the top and 2 inches at the bottom

Hood is three pieces of aluminum with louvers

Gas tank is aluminum, holds approximately 14 gallons

Paint: Red primer


1932 frame rails, shortened, flattened and pinched approx 6 inches

Frame has fabricated K-member to support transmission

Rear cross member mounts a Model T spring in a suicide mount

Front axle is a Super Bell Model A with a 4 inch drop.

Front spring is a Speedway Roadster spring mounted to modified 1946 Ford split wishbones

Speedway tube shocks all around

Header and wiring engineered and fabricated by Rex SchimmerEngine and drive train:

Engine is 2000 Ford Zetec, two liter (2.0L), DOHC, four valve 4 cylinder

Hilborn 2 inch Injection with 30 lb/hr electronic injectors

ECU is a Pantera Model 882C

50 amp alternator

Header fabricated by me

Radiator is aluminum I fabricated to fit the grille shell

Transmission is a BorgWarner T5 from a Ford Turbo Coupe Thunderbird

Clutch is a stock pressure plate with a CenterForce disc

Engine to trans adapter is from Quad Four Rods in Denver, CO

Rear end is an early mag Hildebrand V-8 quick change with a 4:11 ring and pinion (present gear ratio is 4.86:1)

Rear end side bells are from a 1937 Ford pickup, modified to take Coleman Brothers Racing full floating hubs and axles

Wheels and Tires:

Wheels are from Chris at Wheelsmith Wheels, Santa Ana, CA

Fronts are 4.5 x 15 spokes / Rears are 8 x 18 spokes

Wheels are finished in cherry red powdercoat with a clear powdercoat over the base color

Tires: Front 5.00 x 15 Coker Firestone ribbed dirt tires / Rear, 8.20 x18 Coker Firestone dirt tires


All aluminum panels with a pair of “bomber” aluminum seats.

I did all of the fabrication and modification, wiring, etc. in my home shop.

Rex: Car first ran in May of 2008.  First trip was to the L.A. Roadsters Show on Fathers Day last year. I have approx 5-6000 miles on it right now.

Wow!  I dig so many bits of this ride.  I love the engine choice.  I mean, come on, Ford Focus 4 cylinder?  Just imagine the mpg on this baby!  The bare aluminum panels and interior, they look perfect.  That Hilborn Injection poking out of the louvered cowl means business.  The rear luggage rack, so functional, yet doesn’t take away from the traditional look.  Like I said up front, this roadster is just so right in everyway.  Congrats Rex and an inspirational hot rod.  Rex, hopefully you manage to turn one of your other “sketches” into a stunning hot rod as you did this ’29 Ford.


Lakes Modified Ford roadster at the LA Roadster Show Quick change rear end and bare aluminum body during the build processFront picture of the roadster in processThe frame on rollers during the buildBody test fit onto the frame