Larry Barbier’s 1931 Ford Model A Hot Rod Coupe
If anyone ever records an album of songs about Model A hot rods, Larry Barbier’s 1931 Ford coupe might make a good cover vehicle. His low-slung screamer is everything you’d want in a Model A hot rod – the look, the color and the big thumper of an engine.
Let’s start with the stance. Larry’s coupe hints at the old-school East Coast look – a ground-hugging attitude with tall, skinny whitewall tires and a channeled body. The tires surround 16-inch steel wheels, though there are more modern four-wheel disc brakes controlling the stopping. The TCI frame is also a bit more contemporary, sporting an independent front suspension and an independent Jaguar rear that hosts 4.11 posi-traction gears.
Power comes from a 496c.i. Chevy big-block that’s topped by two Holley 390-cfm four-barrel carbs on an Offenhauser intake. Aluminum finned valve covers lend a classic look and reside on aluminum heads, with Sanderson headers feeding the 2.5-inch exhaust system. A Comp Cams Thumper cam and roller rockers and a Pertronix ignition system keep the power flowing through a GM 700R4 overdrive automatic transmission.
When Larry brought the coupe back to Dublin, California, from Seattle he began completing the previous owner’s work by adding his own spin. In addition to improving the engine, Larry changed the wheel/tire combination, the interior, and other details to add his personal touch.
The all-steel body features a 3-inch top chop and is channeled 4-inches. The suicide doors are fitted with power windows. A ’29 Ford firewall was installed, the cowl smoothed, and the roof insert replaced with steel. The stock Model A grille shell was replaced with a ’32 Ford unit. The body is covered in red acrylic urethane from Summit Racing with red Roth metalflake in the clear coat adding extra glimmer.
The black, pleated vinyl interior continues the old-school flavor. Larry did the interior work himself, including the addition of TPI gauges to the stock dash. A banjo-style wheel tops the steering column while gear-changing chores are handled by a Lokar shifter topped by a red skull shift knob. A vintage military ammo box serves as a console, nestled between the bomber-style seats.
Model A hot rods come in all sizes, shapes, colors and styles. Their simplicity and versatility is one of the things that has kept them so popular through the years. While there are no right or wrong ways to build a Model A hot rod, some just stand out from the crowd. Larry’s ’31 is one those.
Photos by Brett Macadam