For decades, the hot rod world has had a love-hate relationship with rat rods. For many, the mere term conjures up visions of rusted out old rides barely being held together by a plethora of various shop scraps and misshapened metal. In fact, ask any old-school or traditional rodder their opinion on that specific automotive genre and you’re sure to get an earful. But at Slam’d Mag, we do “rat rods” a bit differently here; more tastefully and with class. Kevin Tobin’s gorgeous 1931 Ford Model A Tudor build is the perfect representation of one such specimen – read on for more.
Photos & Words: Lindsey Fisher
When we first came across Kevin’s Model A, we were hesitant to call it a rat rod. Sure, it has that classic patina’d look and that undeniable slammed stance, but it was instantly apparent that there was a lot more thought put into perfecting this build rather than just “piecing various things together” to create a vehicle. Kevin’s rat rod has class, or as he puts it, “it’s low, mean and clean!”
What started out as a 1931 Model A Tudor has been chopped, channeled, and customized to the piece of rolling art before you. Kevin took on the majority of the car’s build with the help of close friends in between a full-time drilling job and various car club events, which put the total build time at right around four years.. It may have been a bit of a wait, but with Kevin’s passion for working with his hands and “bringing imagination to life,” the time spent was well worth bringing his vision for the perfect “street rat” to life.
Chopped a massive eight inches and channeled four, Kevin’s rat sits low atop a custom two-by-three boxed frame. Featuring a suicide front end, ‘bagged rear with 7-inch Firestone ‘bags and custom control arms, the car lifts just enough to avoid scraping on the concrete when driving while allowing for that ultimate low slung look when parked.
Powering the rat is a classic 283ci small block Chevy engine with Rochester Tri-Power carbs and custom Lake headers. Backing the Chevy powerplant is a 700R4 automatic transmission, which pushes the V8’s power to the pavement via a GM 10-bolt Posi-lock rearend with stout 4.56 gears and 15-inch smoothie wheels encompassed in 10-inch thick Firestone drag slicks. Up front, classic Coker wide whites measure just five inches wide around similarly painted copper smoothies with spiked lug nuts for a little extra flair. Not one for “tradition” but preferring modern safety conveniences like good brakes, Wilwood discs reside at all four corners.
Aesthetically, the rat rod is a unique mix of classic rat rod style and custom metal shaping. Everything from the grille and headlight surrounds, to the smoothed kick panels with custom drilled trim and frenched taillights are all well thought out and executed custom touches. To give the car even more of an old-school look, Kevin brazed many of the components rather than welding them. Of course, the Tudor is finished off in an original patina, which is thoroughly cleared to set it in place, and then pinstriped on the top of the grille shell and below the back window.
Inside the street rat the interior is just as unique and the details really begin to shine; featuring a custom split bench seat with black and buckskin tuck-and-roll marine-grade vinyl upholstery (the wood-slat roof won’t exactly keep much dry), matching door panels, a custom transmission tunnel with a classic hula girl in the center, and a 10-gallon fuel cell mounted in the rear of the cab. You can also spot the custom drilled extra tall shifter, sheet metal gauge cluster and drilled dash trim, along with the reverse steering wheel. There is no air conditioning or stereo system to speak of, as the wind and sound of the exhaust are all Kevin needs to enjoy the ride.
Having set out to build a mean, clean, low-riding street rat, Kevin certainly built a vehicle that might just have a few old-school rod guys rethinking their definition and disdain of the “rat rod.” But what is custom car building for if not for expressing one’s imagination in a way that others have never done before?!
Owner: Kevin Tobin
Vehicle: 1931 Ford Model A Tudor
Hometown: Aurora, Colorado
Car Club: Denver Junkie’s CC
Front: 15×5-inch smoothies custom painted copper to compliment car’s patina
Rear: 15×10-inch smoothies custom painted copper to compliment car’s patina
Spiked lug nuts
Tires:15-inch Coker wide whites (front), 15-inch Firestone drag slicks (rear)
Brakes: Wilwood discs
Chopped 8 inches and channeled 4 inches
Original trim removed and used in interior
Custom front grille with center bottle opener
Custom headlight surrounds
Custom drilled visor
Smoothed kick panels with custom drilled trim to match suspension and visor
Matching custom rear trim detail
Custom wood-slat roof
Spikes along the front axle
Custom brazing for an old-school look
Original patina with “lots of clear”
Pinstriped by: Roch
Custom split bench seat built to fit interior; black and buckskin tuck-and-roll marine-grade vinyl upholstery
Matching black and buckskin tuck-and-roll door panels
Reverse steering wheel
Custom drilled shifter with spiked “knob” and buckskin vinyl shifter boo
Custom riveted transmission tunnel
4-point harness seat belts
Smoothed sheet metal floor
Custom gauge cluster with Speedway gauges
Steering column-mounted tach
Custom sheet metal switch box
Original wood exterior trim moved inside above rear windows
NOS fire extinguisher
Floor-mounted bottle opener foot rest
10-gallon fuel tank mounted inside rear window slot
Mandatory hula girl
283ci SBC engine
Rochester Tri-Power carbs
Custom Lake headers
Custom cut exhaust
Custom alternator bracket
Jameson coolant overflow bottle
Special Thanks From the Owner:
“I’d like to thank my pops for buying me tools instead of toys when I was a kid.”