Saturday, June 22, 2024
FEATURES

SARGE! – GARY SARGESON 1928 FORD ROADSTER

“Six weeks before the show, this car was a bare chassis,” says Gary Sargeson about his 1928 Model A roadster. A less dedicated gent may have just let it go but given that Gary’s unfinished ‘A was one of the poster cars for the annual WA Hot Rod and Street Machine Spectacular, he was very much expected to make an appearance!

This is Gary and Sue’s first hot rod, but he’s no stranger to the breed, spending his younger days knocking around Melbourne with some guys from the Eastern Valley Hot Rod Club. “I was a boiler maker so I was a pretty handy guy to know,” recalls Gary. His career saw him relocate to Perth more than 25 years ago, today he works off shore in the oil and gas industry which sees him both at home and away on a fortnightly basis. Whilst at home, a very motivated Gary was focused on an EK Holden wagon until he spotted an abandoned Model A project at Fiddy Customs in Mandurah.

“Dave had this rolling Model A, it was an unfinished project and hadn’t been touched for a long time. I’ve always wanted a hot rod but never been interested in buying one, I always wanted to build it.” With Dave at Fiddy’s Customs on board as an advisor and mentor, Gary decided now was the time.

Rod Tech front suspension and a coil over rear had already been fitted to the Oz Rods frame, along with Ford V8 running gear, but Gary wasn’t impressed with the floppy ‘glass body. “I looked at it and realised how much would be involved in steeling it out. I checked out the freight rates to Melbourne and it wasn’t too expensive so I ended up sending the chassis over to Deuce Customs and had them fit one of their Model A roadster bodies. I’m so impressed with their work, all I had to do once I got it back was wipe its bum and paint it.”

The Ford driveline went as well, Gary planning to slot in the 350 that he had pegged for the EK project. However after chatting more with Fiddy Dave, a little research on the internet and a chance visit to a Texas hot rod run, Gary’s path took a turn and decided that he wanted to go old school with the Model A. The 350 was put back on the stand and the hunt was on for an early 327, eventually importing one from the USA. So why did Gary go to all that trouble when a 350 would have looked the same? “The early 327 V8 heads aren’t drilled and tapped for accessory brackets so they look clean and uncluttered,” he reasons.

So by now you’re probably wondering about the Texas thing. “I had to go to Houston for work so I emailed some shops beforehand about visiting and to see what was going on. When I was there I met Danny Burroughs who works with his father, Bruce at his shop, Bruce’s Rod Shop. Danny took me to a roadster breakfast run and seeing some of the cars cemented my choice to go nostalgia.”

The engine had already been rebuilt but Gary topped it off with a triple carb intake, three new Strombergs and finned Corvette tappet covers. Details like the original style oil filler, mechanical fuel pump and early style Mallory distributor are all part of Gary’s scheme to keep it real. Whilst the engine is mild the Coan Racing (USA) Turbo 350 is good for 700hp according to Gary. He chose it for smooth shifting capabilities which he’ll need with the 3,000 stall up front. A nine inch diff with 3.5 gears takes the brunt.

Taking a step back, the frame needed some work to accommodate Greg’s choices. “There’s not enough room for a mechanical fuel pump and a HQ steering box in the Model A frame, so Neil at Fiddys had to fabricate brackets to drop the steering box lower in the chassis,” said Gary. Neil also built the 65 litre fuel tank and rebuilt the brakes among other things.

Rodz Wild coated the finished frame and components in gloss black while GAS 78 industries stepped in to do the satin finish body. “I couldn’t find anyone that wanted to do the matt finish, but these guys are masters at it,” confirmed Gary. The windscreen is from Red Fox Frames, it’s about a four inch chop. It took Gary some time to work out exactly how short he wanted it and he’s pretty pleased with his choice.

Gary built the seat frame before delivering the roadster to First Class Motor Trimmers, conveying the tuck and roll images still in his mind from his Houston visit. Classic Instruments, a Mr Roadster column and ’40 Ford tiller are nice additions. 

Gary had plenty to say about those who have helped him along the way, especially the crew at Fiddy’s Customs. “I reckon I burnt the bitumen between my place and Fiddy’s,” quips Gary, adding that he and Dave have become good friends since. He also gives a big thumbs up to another Dave, a long time friend that has helped not only with this project and others.

Gary’s enthusiasm for the roadster and the projects that lay ahead is fuelled by the enjoyment he’s got out of socialising with other hot rodders. “I did a trip over east just to meet other rodders,” he mentioned. “The information I’ve found out, the horse trading, it’s helped out heaps.”

The EK wagon hasn’t been forgotten, in fact from what he tells us it’s shaping up to be one tough streeter. There’s also a ’28 Chev roadster under construction for Sue, which will result in his ‘n her roadsters, and a 354 Hemi-powered all steel ’31 coupe.

BY GAVIN KELSO, PHOTOS GAVIN KELSO, FULL FEATURE CRUZIN #166.

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