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With a Chevy V8 and Snowmobile Shocks, Tucci's Model A Is Insanity on Four Wheels

Far from a traditional hot rod and way too clean to be considered a rat rod, this extraordinary lowboy that’s not only eye-catching but fully functional takes custom fabrication to a whole different level.
Tucci 1931 Ford Model A 18 photos
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I grew up in the 1990s and back then, my bedroom walls were adorned with posters of supercars like the Ferrari F40, the Countach and Diablo Lambos, or Jaguar’s XJ220. One day, as I was walking the streets of Bucharest in post-communist Romania, I saw the four-wheeled equivalent of a flying saucer.

Donning foreign license plates and painted bright orange, here was this old-looking vehicle with exposed wheels covered in whitewall tires rumbling around in a city full of antiquated Dacia sedans. I must have been no more than seven years old at the time, so I had no idea what it was, but I was fascinated.

The encounter stuck with me and several years later I learned that what I saw was a hot rod-inspired VW Bettle. After my family bought a computer, I would skip school while my parents were at work, hook up the phone cable to the PC and browse the world wide web for pictures of both my favorite supercars, and audacious hot rod builds.

Sure, I racked up enormous phone bills which earned me some memorable whoopings, but in the end, it was well worth it since I got to discover some amazing cars.

Tucci 1931 Ford Model A
One of them was this custom candy green 1939 GMC pickup truck, built in 2000 by Dave Tucci and his crew. At the time, his company was only three years old, and this insane project earned it worldwide recognition.

Located in Marcy, New York, Tucci Hot Rods became one of the most respected custom builders in the years that followed, creating many outrageous vehicles that stood out thanks to the high level of craftsmanship and innovation.

One of my personal favorites is the 1931 Model A Sedan which I came across while browsing through the most insane projects of SEMA 2015.

The story starts with a client who owned a Model A two-door body and wanted to build a wild ride around it. The man handed the project down to Tucci, summarizing his vision in three words: low, loud, and obnoxious.

Tucci 1931 Ford Model A
To turn this idea into reality, the team chopped the top of the original body, lowering it by 5 ½ inches (14 cm). Welded back together, it looked far more aggressive, but it lacked a chassis.

Designed to sit as close to the pavement as humanly possible and fabricated from scratch in-house, the new chassis featured frame rails that rose from the middle section by 8 inches (20.3 cm) at the front and 19 inches (48.2 cm) at the rear.

Since the owner’s height stood at 6’ 5” (1.95 m), the floor needed to be channeled by 3 inches (7.6 cm). This meant that the driveshaft tunnel had to be ingeniously suspended from the floor, which ended up looking like a huge pipe riveted in place between the seats, arguably the coolest feature of the interior.

The next step was building the Model A’s suspension, another spectacular feat of engineering. At the rear, it received a four-link rear system triangulated via a Panhard bar, a custom 9-inch (22.8-cm) Ford rear axle, and a set of airbags to adjust the overall ride height. Fitting all these components into place required many hours of fabrication and a lot of creativity but the front setup is even more impressive.

Tucci 1931 Ford Model A
Tucci took an aftermarket wishbone style kit with a dropped I-beam axle conceived to work alongside conventional coilovers and transformed it into a unique cantilever setup that used Fox Float air shocks intended for snowmobiles. The whole front suspension was connected to the air ride system and then neatly tucked away behind a custom-built track nose flanked by two King Bee headlights with built in directional lights.

For the powertrain, the team chose to go with a 350 ci (5.7-liter) small block Chevy equipped with an Edelbrock tree duce and Zoomie headers. It was linked to a 5-speed gearbox operated via a tall shifter with an awesome skull knob.

Like all the vehicles that come out of Tucci’s shop, this Model A needed to be as functional as it was gorgeous so to complement all the raw power that came from the Chevy mill, a modern brake kit was fitted and it came with huge Wilwood front rotors.

Tucci 1931 Ford Model A
The cabin was spartan but nevertheless impressive. Riddled with golden rivets, it got a retrofitted 1932 Ford dash on which a set of Dakota Digital analog gauges was mounted. On the transmission tunnel, the guys mounted an Accu-Air E Level controller for the air ride suspension, the only trace of modern tech inside this low-slung monster.

To make it easier to step inside, the builders used a Flaming River tilt column connected to a custom quick release Driven steering wheel. The slim, leather-upholstered seats were also custom made out of waterjet-cut aluminum, as were the window frames, all designed by Dave’s son, Dom.

The car was finished off with an absolutely breathtaking paint job. The chassis was powder coated in copper, the suspension components along with the engine got a gloss black touch, while the body was covered in PPG flat brown.

Tucci 1931 Ford Model A
For the start of the project, Tucci designed the whole thing around a set of big Coker Excelsior tires. As it was nearing completion, the tires were fitted on a set of bespoke U.S. Wheel rims painted in flat gold with a diameter of 17 inches in the front and 20 inches in the back.

I have seen many incredible custom rides in the last two decades, but this amazing machine is one of my all-time favorites. Low, loud, and obnoxious, it’s an automotive work of art that encompasses innovation, bold styling, and flawless craftsmanship into an insanely beautiful package.

Below, you can watch a video of the Model A from the 2015 SEMA show. It was posted on YouTube by Coker Tire and features a short interview with Dave.

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