This ‘27 Model T Roadster is really a restoration of a re-creation. It was built from a Speedway Motors 1927 Track-T Roadster Kit and although you can see the outlines, there are no doors and no trunk; you just hop in. The grill is styled after a 1932 Model A but chopped four to six inches.
Besides his reputation for championship Baja Bug racing in the 1980s, Norm Schmidt is known for getting good deals on the cars he buys. And the roadster is no exception.
“I’ve had the car one year. I bought it at the Labor Day swap meet. I wasn’t looking for the car--it didn’t have a For Sale sign on it, but it had one in it, not where everyone could see it. It just caught my eye. And you couldn’t build the car for even twice the money I ended up paying for it,” says Schmidt.
Part of the art of smart car buying is being able to spot a diamond in the rough--a car that will be worth significantly more with a few modest changes.
“The people I bought it from got it as a rat rod in hot rod primer. They painted it and installed the new interior,” says Schmidt. “The transmission had just been rebuilt and all of the pieces were there but they weren’t really period correct. I took a lot of the things off that were modern, like the billet taillights, and put 1941 Chevy taillights in it. It had low-profile tires and they just didn’t look right. I put much taller tires on it right away. I just changed it around until it looked proper.”
The appeal of this particular roadster is its color scheme and pin striping. It looks just like a hot rod from the early 1960s.
“When I first saw it I thought it was very striking. The PPG gold is very popular right now and so is the white naugahyde,” says Schmidt. “The kid I bought it from was going to college and had decided it was time to sell it. He had always wanted it pinstriped so I had it pinstriped at the car show. I let him pick his design and I paid for it. It was one of the things he wanted to do but never had the chance.”
You might think that with a V8 and three twos the roadster would be gas thirsty, but looks can be deceiving.
“I call it my gas mileage car. It’s the economy cruiser. Nobody knows it but it’s a 305; it’s just about the smallest V8 they make with the least amount of horsepower. It runs on one two barrel, the other two are not functional. It’s so light you can lay rubber and go fast but I just drive it as a little putter. I don’t hot rod it around. It stops well and drives beautifully on the freeway. It also corners well but because of its 120 inch wheelbase, it’s hard to make a sharp turn. It’s very comfortable and really just a fun car to drive. It gets a lot of attention and people really like it.”
And here’s Schmidt in the winners’ line, accepting a trophy for best home-built, traditional hot rod at the 2010 Del Mar, California car show.