327-cube 1928 Ford Model A Tudor

The Road Knight Time Machine produces another breathtaking period hot rod

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

IF YOU love pure 60s class, then look no further. Rob and Paula Marchesan’s immaculate, all-steel, full-fendered ’28 Model A tudor has it in spades – actually, make that diamonds.

This article was first published in Street Machine’s Hot Rod magazine #20, 2019

Ford Model A TudorThere’s no gaudy paint or oversized mags here; this on-point tudor effortlessly draws you in with its sensational icy metallic hue topped in white vinyl, coupled with ’50 Merc-capped chrome steelies, wide whites and a plethora of 60s-era trimmings.

It’s not like Rob had several attempts at getting it right, either – here sits his first and only hot rod. He actually started out as a Valiant man, as second owner to his Mum’s bought-new 318ci VH 770 Charger. Then the usual responsibilities of home and family saw him without a decent steed for six long years.

During this interlude, Rob became mates with local Adelaide Road Knights rodder Damon O’Connor, which led Rob to cultivate a hot rod passion of his own.

“Damon’s little black ’28 Chev roadster pick-up was wicked,” Rob says. “We’d go to rod shows and parties, where I met more and more people within the scene.”

XT discs and calipers spin on ’37-41 spindles mounted on the tasty tube axle held in place by stainless four bars. Bounce is handled by a transverse spring along with Pete & Jake’s shocks

So, in 2001, when Damon caught wind of a local rod for sale, Rob jumped on it that night. “It was a get it or miss out kind of deal,” Rob says. “But the next day when I could actually see it in the light, I thought: ‘Fark, look at this thing. What have I gotten myself into?’ It was really tired and definitely well-driven.”

What Rob had acquired was a 327 Chev-powered, Cragar shod black tudor with grey velour trim. Built in the early 80s, the ’28 had inhabited two Australian states before landing in Adelaide from Queensland in 1994. Each owner had added their touch, and Rob was set to do the same.

The stylised, chromed nerf bar was whipped up by Rob and mate Deni. “We heated the 7/8in solid bar with an oxy and then bent it to shape using a jig that we’d made; it bent quite easily,” says Rob. “It’s one-piece with a single join in the centre, which was then TIG welded shut.” An Austin A40 flip-down fuel cap and ’50 Pontiac tail-lights complete the back end

“I modelled the rod around Jack Chrisman’s maroon ’29 tudor with a white roof and Merc caps,” Rob says of the 60s styling. “Also, other cars like Bod Tindle’s ’32 tudor ‘Orange Crate’ had their influence, along with Chili Catallo’s ’32 coupe ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ and a range of others from the old magazines, books and little pages.” [Yep, we know Catallo’s coupe was actually called ‘Silver Sapphire’ but featured on the Beach Boys’ album titled “Little Deuce Coupe” – Ed]

Inspired by Jack Chrisman’s tudor, Rob filled the guards with 15in chromed Ford Cusso steelies finished with ’50 Merc caps and Firestone wide-whites; 5.60s up front and 8.20s up the back. “I was aiming for that classic big ’n’ little combo,” Rob says

In a less-than-common move, Rob sensibly kept the ’28 on the road as he commenced tweaking it to his tastes while repairing everything that had passed its use-by date.

“I pulled the bumpers, swapped out the Cragars for white-walled steelies with ’50 Mercury caps, removed the hood and bought a dual-quad manifold to over-carb it,” Rob laughs.

Beyond that, the mild 327-cuber had a pokey cam added thanks to mates Speed and Trevor, and the lot is backed by a TH350 and nine-inch.

Keeping with the 60s inspo is a bunch of chrome, finned Cal Custom valve covers, NOS Cal Custom air cleaners and hood shelves. Rob smoothed the rams horn extractors by hand and topped the double-hump 462-headed 327 Chevy with a race-ready dual-quad manifold and a pair of Edelbrock 500 carbs

Like most rod builds, each added component or fix bears its own unique story; such as the memory of an Easter Saturday morning nerf bar creation after a chance visit by Rob’s good mate the night before. The tidy tudor is a compilation of moments with mates, tackling a single area and building that creation. It’s less about the whole and more about how every distinctive feature came to be.

Eventually, it came time for a more thorough refresh, so mate and fellow Road Knight member Speed stepped up with shed space and a helping hand. The roof was chopped four inches and body smoothed with the help of Grant Robinson. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

Sixties-style white diamond goodness covers everything; from the modified ’62 Mini seats to the hand-made Tasmanian Oak roof bows, from the inner firewall to the custom door panels – the latter are accented by ’58 Lincoln Premiere door stars. A Bell three-spoke tiller fronts a dash filled with Stewart Warner Wings gauges

“After the fenders were grit-blasted you could see that they were really battered,” Rob says, yet Grant and painter Colin Bailey really worked their magic as the well-proportioned body is now nicely flanked by its production guards, which turned out better than ol’ Henry would’ve whipped up in ’28.

Flowing on with the early-60s vibe is the come-hither ice blue hue laid by Colin, once he’d tweaked the body to perfection.

“I looked at a few blues and metallics before eventually selecting the Iceberg Blue from a Holden Captiva,” Rob says of the long-winded process to nail down a colour. “Though after it was painted the colour wasn’t what I expected, as there’s a bit of purple on the flip. I’m still getting used to it but I actually like it better; Colin has achieved an outstanding finish for a shed job.”

Continuing with the period-correct finishings, now when you pop open the driver’s door you peer into a 60s interior with a distinct show feel.

“I was going to do tuck and roll but everyone was doing that, so I thought about a 60s diamond pattern; drawing inspiration from a UK-built tudor featured in a Rolls & Pleats magazine,” he explains.

Rob fashioned a diamond pattern door card and had trimmer Wayne Norton perform his magic with it in black and white vinyl. And the finished product is exactly what Rob was gunning for.

Rob had a Vertex magneto and sweet column drop on-off switch but the mag died early on in the piece. Rob then sourced a Joe Hunt electronic lookalike but that killed the coil straight off the bat. So he replaced the coil and modified the dizzy to work with an MSD 6AL. “It wasn’t that difficult, and now thanks to lots of spark, it starts the first time, every time,” he says

“If you were on a Californian street between 1961-64 then you’d see a hot rod like ours; a 327ci, metallic blue, lots of chrome, white diamonds, nerf bar, dual quads, with finned valve covers and so on,” he explains, although it’s the go side of rodding that has really piqued Rob’s interest of late.

“My best quarter-mile so far is a 13.8sec,” he says. “It was my first and only fun day on the track. Now I’d like a quicker time, so maybe I’ll do some engine work, put more stall in the converter and shorter gearing out back. Hmm, it’d be good to put a blower on it!”

Are hot rods ever truly done?


Paint: Spies Hecker Iceberg Blue

Brand: Chev 327ci
Carbies: Dual Edelbrock 500
Manifold: Edelbrock C-26 dual-quad low-rise
Heads: Double-hump 462s
Camshaft: Crane H-288
Pistons: Flat tops
Fuel system: Holley mechanical
Cooling: Walker radiator
Exhaust: Chromed rams horn extractors, dual 2in
Ignition: MSD 6AL, boosted Joe Hunt mag-style distributor
Power: 190rwhp

Trans: TH350, stage 2, shift kit
Converter: B&M 2500-stall
Tailshaft: 3in
Diff: Ford 9in, 4.11:1 gears, LSD, 31-spline axles

Front: Dropped tube axle, stock ’37-41 Ford spindles, transverse leaf spring, Pete & Jakes shocks, stainless 4-bar
Rear: Jag coil-overs, stainless triangulated 4-bar
Steering: HQ steering box, fabbed column
Brakes: XT Falcon discs and calipers (f), XA Falcon drums (r)
Master cylinder: Holden Gemini

Rims: Chromed, Ford Customline, ’50 Merc caps; 15×5 (f), 15×8 (r)
Rubber: Firestone wide whites; 5.60/15 (f), 8.20/15 (r)

I had lots of support and encouragement from my wife, Paula, to keep driving it. Many thanks to Speed, Michael, Damon and my family for inspiration, help and advice