Frankie Klepadlo’s ’30 Ford Model A Five-Window Coupe
The “backstory” on just about every hot rod is where the real story lies. Frankie Klepadlo of SoCal is no different, as the real story on his ’30 Ford five-window coupe began years ago. Frankie’s ’30 Ford chopped and- channeled coupe has finally made the road after six years of painstaking effort. But the backstory tells us it began a long time before that. It’s best to hear this story from Frankie himself.
IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE
By Brian Brennan
Photography by Wes Allison
… Building This Model A Five-Window Coupe in a Mere Six Years
“This is the story of my ’30 Ford chopped-and-channeled five-window coupe. The car is named ‘The Six Year Coupe’ for the obvious reason that it took six years to complete the build. But this Model A really started back in 1993. I was 5 years old and an avid car collector—Hot Wheels car collector, that is. My dad would take me to local car shows in Southern California. We would walk around and talk about the cars that we would build one day. For my dad most of the time it was an all-black ’55 Chevy or a ’32 Ford coupe. But for me it was always the Model A. It’s crazy to think that almost 30 years later I actually built the car we once dreamed about.
“In early December 2015 I had just sold my ’27 Ford roadster and decided I wanted to build my next car from the ground up. I started looking for an original steel body and came across the perfect start on an eBay listing. The seller ended up being a really cool guy and we worked out a deal face to face. My build officially began on December 22, 2015. At that time, I was convinced I would be driving the car by the following summer. I only missed the mark by five years.”
See, the backstory is really where the seed for this build began, and it was much longer than five years ago. Once again, it is fun to have Frankie tell us the story in his own words on what came next: the chassis.
“Little did I know this would turn out to be a huge nightmare. I went back and forth on whether I was going to fabricate something myself or use a frame that was available. After doing some research I found a guy in Colorado who said he specialized in custom Model A chassis. We went over everything in detail and he talked a good game. Once the parts showed up and I assembled the chassis it wasn’t even close to what we discussed. I tried working with him to resolve the issue, but it ended up being a yearlong battle to get my money back.
“Now that I was back on track, I had to find someone who could actually build the chassis I had in mind. Luckily, I came across Derek and the guys at Boling Brothers. I brought my body and wheels to their shop and right away they put everything on a jig to start figuring out the correct stance for the car. Derek understood exactly what I was after, and the outcome of the chassis was absolutely perfect.”
The Boling Brothers powder-coated custom chassis features a 14-inch kickup in the rear and a 5-inch kick in the front. Still in front one can see that the ’rails pinch in and come to rest just behind the Deuce grille shell. Working with a SO-CAL Speed Shop 4-inch drop I-beam axle, early Ford spindles, Super Bell steering arms, a Pete and Jakes leaf spring mounted behind the axle, SO-CAL chrome tube shocks, a Vega-style steering box, and Speedway Motors split wishbones anchored in the rear through the frame. From here a LimeWorks steering column is utilized. In back a John’s Industries 9-inch rearend is used along with limited-slip diff with 3.50 gears and 31-spline axles. Other rear appointments include a Boling Brothers Panhard bar and a pair of QA1 10-inch rear coilover shocks. The rolling stock is based on vented Lincoln drums in front along with Lincoln drums in back, a Speedway Motors master cylinder, and a Wilwood prop valve all pressed into service by a Roadster Supply pedal. The wheels are ’35 Ford 16-inch wires that are black powdercoated and enveloped with Coker/Firestone bias rubber, measuring 6.00-16 in front and 7.50-16 in the back.
Resting on this custom hot rod chassis is a ’30 Ford steel body that has undergone the essential hot rod mods. The top is chopped and the body channeled a matching 4 inches while the grille and its shell were cut down 3 inches. The windshield and all other glass are custom to fit the body while the roof features a black Stayfast roof panel (insert). From here the bodywork was handled by Juan Hurtado who also applied the PPG (two-stage) custom mix Ox Blood maroon. The underside of the body is coated in Defender black.
Power for this Model A hot rod comes by way of a 350-inch smallblock Chevy with a polished “short” water pump and a Walker custom four-row radiator. It is topped with a Stromberg 97 Tri-power setup matched to Velocity baloney cut stacks, resting on an Offenhauser intake. More carb accessories include a Lokar throttle cable and Stromberg progressive linkage, Holley fuel pressure regulator, and Edelbrock electric fuel pump. The spent gases exit via the custom ceramic-coated Lakes-style headers. More engine accessories include Offy polished valve covers and breathers, a Powermaster PowerGEN alternator and high-torque starter. Further massaging of the ignition comes by way of an MSD Pro Billet distributor, 6AL digital ignition box, Blaster coil, and custom vintage-looking spark plug wires. The power that the SBC can muster up is matched to a Chevy TH350.
This belly button “tall” hot rod features a highly detailed and well thought out interior. All the stitchwork comes by way of Budy Built Handcrafted Interiors. Inside are a pair of custom bomber seats and lap belts, interior panels and headliner are covered in Hydes buffalo distressed brown leather, while under the Relicate tan German square-weave carpeting you will find a liberal amount of Dynamat. Upon closer inspection you will see a LimeWorks steering column with their ’32 drop and one of their own ’40 Ford steering wheels. The Deuce dash is holding onto a five pack of Auto Meter gauges in Antique Beige. Resting between the steering and the dash is a Lokar 23-inch neck Nostalgia shifter. Other interior appointments include a LimeWorks key and headlight switch, Lokar e-brake, and a Bob Drake ’37 Ford rearview mirror. Hidden from view but not from enjoyment is the Vintage Car Radio operated by Bluetooth along with a JBL 8-inch BasePro SL subwoofer and two JBL GX502 speakers (hidden under the dash).
You know the old saying about “it takes a village ...” Well, it also takes a garage full of friends to get a hot rod project completed. Frankie leaned on his wife, Cate, his two sons, Ford and Kayce, and his dad. From here it also took the likes of Steve and Lianne Budy of Budy Built Handcrafted Interiors, Derek and the crew from Boling Brothers, and Kevin from PAC Coast Powdercoating. For those who did make it by this year’s SEMA show, you probably saw this outstanding coupe at the Mother’s Polish booth. Frankie’s idea for his perfect Model A hot rod may have been around for nearly 30 years, but this relatively fast build took six years … it’s the results that count and they are spot-on.