Notable vehicles come in all shapes and sizes in the automotive world, but some of the most influential cars come in the form of mainstream media. This is the case for celebrity cars, movie cars and even magazine cover cars. Among those that fit this criteria, the 1929 Dick Flint Roadster is easily one of the most notable, if not the most influential hot rod, in automotive history. Keep reading to find out why in this month’s Hot Rods You Should Know feature!
Built in 1949 by Dick Flint, the iconic ’29 roadster actually started out as three different cars. With the idea of building the ultimate street/lake roadster, Flint started off by designing a custom chassis for his project. He then took his chassis mockup to Valley Custom, along with three rough 1929 Ford roadster bodies.
Using the three bodies, Valley Custom’s Neil Emory and Dean Batchelor pieced together the car’s unique body. Part of that melding of the best of three bodies was creating the car’s now iconic “track nose” and belly pan.
After the three roadster bodies were cut up and pieced together to form one good example of a Model A roadster, the body was channeled over Flint’s custom chassis, which included custom body brackets, engine mounts, shock brackets and every kind of fixture needed to make a complete lake car, all custom fabricated by Flint.
The car was then fitted with hydraulic brakes, adapted from a 1946 Ford, as well as a dropped and filled front axle from Flint’s employer So-Cal Speed Shop. From there, the rest of the custom body work ensued.
Wanting a “wind cheating” nose on the front of his car inspired by those seen on pre-war Indy cars, Flint worked with Emory and Batchelor to come up with the perfect framework and hand-formed aluminum nose piece for both looks and aerodynamics.
The nose was completed with a custom aluminum grille and then topped off with clear lacquer after it was filled and buffed, to protect the custom piece. To go along with the custom nose, the three also fabricated the car’s unique 3-piece hood, which was later taken to Art Engels for the louvers to be punched out.
A fully custom roadster, the ’29 Ford received several other custom touches, like flared side panels, 1939 teardrop taillights, removable wheel well panels, a smooth 5-piece belly pan (also removable), and smoothed and filled seams, joints and holes. Even the original Model A fuel tank was sealed, replaced by a new tank in the trunk.
The car was topped off with a Federal Truck red paint scheme and featured a custom interior upholstered in brown synthetic leather by Floyd Tipton. The interior featured a custom fitted 1932 Auburn dash panel with Stewart Warner and Auburn gauges, and a modified 1940 Ford steering wheel and a floor shifter from a 1939 Ford.
Having been featured both within the pages of and the cover of Hop Up magazine, as well as on the cover of the May 1952 issue of Hot Rod Magazine, the incredibly custom roadster became known for its looks. Beyond that, the roadster also proved to be a mover and shaker on the streets and lake beds.
Under the hood was a fully massaged 1940 289ci Mercury Flathead built by Flint. It featured a Winfield Super 1A camshaft, three-ring racing pistons, custom ignition system, Stromberg 97 carburetors on an Edelbrock intake, with Edelbrock 9:1 compression heads, and tubular headers fitted with lake plugs.
Although lacking a bit in the beauty department compared to the rest of the custom roadster, the Flathead under the hood served the car well, powering it to a documented 143.54mph run at El Mirage in 1950.
Things like the Halibrand Quickchange rearend with 3.27 gears and the high-mounted drag link often associated with the car were later additions to the build.
Flint sold the roadster in 1961 to Duane Kofoed, a member of the LA Roadsters, who drove and showed the car extensively. He owned the roadster for over 30 years before selling it to vintage race enthusiast and hot rodder Don Orosco. After purchasing the car, Orosco got to work rebuilding the roadster’s chassis in a way that Flint later stated “was the way I would have done it if I had the resources, and if I could do it over.”
This included using a significantly modifying 1932 Ford K-member mated to an original Model A frame, boxing and z-ing the frame on both ends, cutting and flaring lightening holes, trimming down and fitting a Model A firewall and supporting the cowl and steering box with steel tubing.
With its new frame, the car made an appearance at the 1999 50th Anniversary Oakland Roadster Show, which Flint himself attended along with a number of original club members from the Sidewinders – the club Flint was a part of when he owned the car. Minor tweaks to the hood and interior to make the car more correct based on its 1949 build were added after.
In 2000, the car participated in the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England. Appearing at a handful of shows and events afterwards, the car was then put up for auction in 2013 by RM Auctions, where the car sold for $577,500.
Built at the height of hot rodding, the Dick Flint Roadster is known as one of the most “idealic” surviving hot rods of its time. Completely custom in every way, this 1929 Ford has acted as an inspiration and an automotive muse for generations of automotive enthusiasts, and continues to be a quintessential representation of an era long gone!