Shoeshine Coupe – Adam Rice’s Chopped, Channeled, Y-Block-Powered Model A
It’s interesting how early hot rodding styles can still captivate enthusiasts who have no direct connection to the time or place where the form originated. The practice of stripping fenders off old Fords and swapping in hopped-up V8s to make them go faster endures, more than eight decades after the first hot rodders set the precedent.
At age 35, Adam Rice never experienced the early days of rodding. Growing up in rural northeast Nebraska, he was also far removed from traditional hot rodding hotbeds. Nevertheless, he was drawn to the classic hot rod style that has attracted gearheads for generations. A yearning for an early-style coupe drove him to start building this chopped and channeled ’31 Model A nearly a decade ago, when he was still in his 20s.
“I always wanted to build a low, mean, ’50s-’60s-era hot rod,” Adam says. “Being a Ford guy and growing up around cars with my dad and grandpa, cars have always been my passion. I wanted to do as much as I could myself.”
Adam was armed not only with youth and enthusiasm, but also with practical bodywork skills learned in trade school. Those came in handy when the Model A body he bought online from out of state turned out to be rougher than expected. Adam had to redo much of the work that had already been done and repair rusted and damaged sections with better panels and fabricated pieces. The coupe ultimately ended up with a 6-inch top chop, a welded and smoothed cowl and firewall, and a roof insert using a top skin from a ’62 Galaxie.
The body was channeled 4-inches over a Riley Automotive frame set up with a 4-inch dropped Super Bell axle, split wishbones, and a Flaming River steering box. Adam built the triangulated four-link setup that locates the 9-inch rearend. The ’35 Ford wire wheels were wrapped in 4.50-16 and 7.50-16 Firestone wide whitewalls.
Adam’s Ford allegiance led him to select a 292c.i. Y-block engine backed by a vintage Fordomatic transmission. “Y-blocks are different and look awesome,” he says. This one looks and runs better than most thanks to an Edelbrock intake topped with triple 9 Super 7 carbs from Speedway Motors, plus a Joe Hunt magneto and ceramic-coated lakes-style headers. Polished ’57 T-bird valve covers make a perfect finishing touch.
Speaking of finishing touches, the inspiration for the car’s paint came from an unexpected source. “I knew I wanted the car brown,” Adam says. “One day my mom showed up with brown metallic shoes. That’s how I found the color – Shoeshine Brown.” Adam sprayed the custom-mixed Axalta hue himself. A sectioned Model A grille shell, ’34 Ford headlights, and ’50 Pontiac taillights helped complete the look.
Inside, Adam filled the ’32 Ford dash with Classic Instruments gauges and turned to Speedway Motors for the column, steering wheel, and Lokar shifter. Jorgensen Upholstery in Norfolk, Nebraska, stitched the brown vinyl upholstery and fit the custom carpet.
Adam finished the coupe a few years ago and has not only logged some decent miles on it, but has also picked up several Goodguys awards – including a Builder’s Choice Top 10 from Pinkee’s Rod Shop. The car has helped attract a few projects to Adam’s shop, Rice’s Rides in tiny Osmond, Nebraska, where he does collision work alongside hot rods and vintage gas pump restorations.
The more you look at it, the easier it is to understand the enduring appeal of a cool little coupe like this – especially for Adam. “The car was built by me and done exactly how I wanted it with Ford power and lots of little period-correct details,” he says. Not only that, it’s helping to spark hot rod interest in yet another generation. “My three boys love the hot rod and love to go for drives,” Adam says. “I want to build a hot rod for each boy, so I already have a nice ’30 Model A to build into a better and badder hot rod.”
We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Photos by Damon Lee