The Future Is Bright – A Young Rodder And His ’29 Ford Coupe

Photos courtesy of Speedway Motors/Jason R. Lubken

Lately the question of “Is hot rodding going to survive another fifty years?” has been going around because it seems there’s not enough young people getting involved in the hobby. Organizations like NSRA have special sections at their events for ‘youngsters’ under the age of 27 to show off their cars. Sites like the HAMB encourage young builders and pro shops these days are sometimes staffed with folks  under 35-years-old.

What Were You Doing At 19 Years Of Age?

Grant Kroft, only 19-years-old, is a young guy that’s been around cars most of his life, but actual work experience started at age 14 when he began helping his father, Randy Kroft of “Randy’s Rods and Restorations.” Working on a few of Dad’s projects – a 1927 Model T roadster and customer’s cars like a 1969 Camaro, 1966 Corvette, among others – helped him learn skills of the trade.

At 16, Grant became obsessed with first generation Chevy F-Bodies. Dad found a 1967 Camaro SS/RS project and together they built it. Grant was hooked on autos. However, Dad’s Hemi-powered T roadster put a fire in his heart and he wanted a traditional hot rod. Shortly after graduating high school in 2016, Grant saved his graduation money and began looking for a project.

Straightening Out Many Botched Attempts

Within a few weeks, a body was found in Des Moines, Iowa, a 1929 Model A coupe. Fortunately, Grant found it the same day the owner posted it for sale. After asking a few questions, he said “he’d take it,” and went to get it. When he arrived, it was apparent the old jalopy had seen a hard life.

It had some rather tasteless alterations – a badly installed sunroof, multiple channeling attempts, poorly fabricated sub-floors and that old Midwest nemesis – rust. As far as Grant was concerned, it was perfect to turn into a bad-ass hot rod. After handing over cash, it was loaded up for the journey home.

Luckily, the car came with a pile of extra parts, including rust repair panels, a new Brookville Roadster deck lid and a below the deck lid panel. Those parts however, were not nearly enough to fix all that was wrong from the varied attempts at being “hot rodded.” Within a few days of the coupe being unloaded, the body was sandblasted, showing the true extent of the car. After examination it was clear the coupe would need much more patchwork than what was anticipated.

Chrome Won’t Get You Home!

But it sure looks purdy on the engine and an undercarriage. When building on a budget, chrome don’t make it go and it certainly isn’t necessary at times. Before the body work could begin, Grant built a frame using the stock 1929 Model A rails, which his Dad gave him. Grant had already built a few Model A frames for Pop’s customers and was familiar with setting up suspension geometry, welding, boxing plates and cross members.

The frame was leveled and straightened and boxing plates welded in, fitting them inside the C-channels. A Speedway Model A front cross member was purchased and installed and a square tube cross member built for the rear. Initially Grant had planned to use a traditional-style Model A crossmember with the spring on top of the axle but with some measuring he discovered that would not work with the way he wanted the car to sit. He decided to mount the spring behind the axle, like a ‘32 Ford. That required a stretch in the rear of the frame.

The frame was also stretched six inches in the front to accommodate a small block Chevy without a set-back firewall because future plans called for a Hillborn eight stack injection unit. The stretch, combined with the cross member/spring behind the axle setup amounted to a total frame stretch of 21 inches, but actually resulted in a six inch wheelbase stretch over the stock Model A frame. After finishing, the drive train and suspension components were painted white-no chrome needed.

A Vega steering box was used for a cross steer setup. The axle is held in place with a set of Speedway hairpins and supports the Speedway Super-slide reversed eye spring. The front brake setup is a Speedway disc kit utilizing the original Ford spindles along with GM metric rotors and calipers. The Ford Ranger rear end was sourced out of a local salvage yard. Grant added new drum brakes and the car rolls on American Racing 5 spokes wrapped in 12.00-15 Radir slicks and 5.60-15 Firestones.

Only 19 Years Old?

When the frame was finished, Grant got busy welding on his new body. Along with new rear corners of the body, and the lower panel, Grant installed new lower cowl pieces at the same time the cowl was welded and smoothed to get rid of the seams between the original fuel tank, which had been gutted.

The few original panels left were absolutely beat. Both quarter panels had marks that appeared to be from loose snow chains, the cowl top was dented and nearly every inch of original metal needed some form of attention. After patching and massaging, the body was set on the frame.

It was decided that not only did Grant want to chop the car, but he also wanted it channeled. He settled on four inches, approximately the width of the frame. After studying it, he discovered the coupe body was out of square from previous hot rodding attempts – off by two inches.

Before he could proceed the car had to be straightened by pulling the driver’s side back to square. That accomplished, the channel job could continue by cutting out what was left of the original sub rails allowing the body to slide down alongside the frame. New sub rails were built using angled steel, and a flat hot rod floor, with cross members, was added.

Hot Rodding Is Alive And Well In Nebraska.

With the body squared up, the chop began. Grant didn’t want a radical chop – a mild cut would do so the car would retain head room with the channeled floor. That called for removing two inches. Perfect. Setting the roof back on it, he decided that’s the way it looked best and began welding and metal finish.

With the chop completed, it was time to fill the badly installed sun roof. That was accomplished using a piece of 18 gauge shaped to the roof’s curvature. Reproduction pieces were used as the old ones were bad from years of being smashed and shot up.

With the skin welded it was time to move on to fitting repro wheel houses as past attempts at C- notching the car ruined the stockers. In addition, both lower quarter panels were cut out and new were welded in. With help of his Dad, the body was set on to the freshly painted frame and they began to straighten the coupe. When satisfied, the many days of block sanding and priming, and yet again more sanding, commenced.

Grant chose a 1969 Corvette block with a 350 Turbo automatic transmission (Transgo Performance rebuilt) and shifted by a Lokar trans mount shifter. The engine was pulled from his father’s stash of cores and rebuilt by Jono’s racing engines of Schuyler, Nebraska. Included are 2.02/ 1.60 heads, Comp Xtreme cam, steel crank, forged pistons, and an Edelbrock 3×2 intake. That results in plentiful torque the 358 ci puts out and motivates the hot rod down the road really well.

Don’t Most 19-Year-Olds Have A Phone In Their Hands 24/7?

Not Grant. He was too busy picking out paint and block sanding. A Summit Racing color called Bright Orange Metallic that changes from orange in sunlight to dark copper in shade was chosen. Wanting to have the car painted for an upcoming car show, Grant enlisted his cousin, Emil Kouba to spray the orange base coat. After the base was applied, Grant sprayed the white firewall and finished off the body with eight coats of clear to give it a mile deep finish. The cab was then set onto the freshly painted color matched frame.

He Not Only Paints, But He Sews Too!

The bright white vinyl with orange stitched diamond pleats, was designed and sewn by Grant. The seat is a 1994 S10 seat that’s been narrowed 10 inches and upholstered. The carpet is black GM style 80/20 loop. The trunk area and Tanks fuel tank are covered with matching upholstered panels and the entire body was lined with Dynamat to cut down on road noise before any of the upholstery was installed.

The dash is ‘32 Ford style and is painted body color. A Speedway 5 piece black face gauge set was purchased as well as a Speedway ignition switch and headlight switch. A new under dash bar was made to mount the GM tilt/telescoping steering column that’s been filled and smoothed and finished off with white Grant classic wheel.

Almost 90 Days To “On The Road”

The coupe took eighty-five days from start to drivable. Grant boasts of 85 non-sequential but equally long days over a period of six months. He reports the best part of the build is driving the coupe and it currently has about 4000 miles on it since May, 2017.

A Great Future Ahead
When asked what the future holds for him, Grant replied that he plans on building and working on hot rods. He stated he cannot see himself doing anything else. Like the song says, “The future’s so bright, he’s gotta wear shades!”

A Note From Rod Authority Editor Dave Cruikshank – This is such a great story. What a bitchin’ build! It shows skeptics that hot rodding is going strong and is in good hands. I think the stance, color, wheels and wide-whites really show Grant’s distilled grasp of vintage hot rod swag… Just because young folks weren’t around when Beethoven and the Beatles were at a their peak, doesn’t negate their importance and significance in history.  Same thing with old cars, and it falls to us “elders” to educate and nurture young folks so they know the importance and provenance of what these cars embodied, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Kudos to you Grant, Henry Ford is smiling from up above…

About the author

Roger Jetter

Roger’s interests in cars started at 14 with a ’40 Ford pick-up until he bought his first ’57 Chevy at age 16. That car is featured in the first two books he’s written about the 1960’s and growing up in the Midwest. He’s authored several more books as well and has built several cars over the years that have received major coverage in magazines and won plenty of awards. His current build is a 1948 Cadillac Sedanet, although his current 'driver' is a '55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
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