Rusted, Rodded, and Ready to RunBy Patrick McCarthy, Photography by Maxwell Matthewson, Dan Ward
The Ford Model A was one of the most successful and iconic automobiles of all time, topped only by classics like the Model T and Volkswagen Beetle. Nearly five million Model As were sold between 1928 and 1931, with body styles ranging from coupes to station wagons and even trucks. After the minimalist Model T (available in any color as long as it was black), Henry Ford's motor company created more variations in size, shape, and even offered four new paint colors. However, despite the release of these new options, old Henry could never have imagined the dramatic reconstruction that would befall one ordinary 1931 Model A more than 80 years later. In the hands of 29-year-old owner, Michael Partyka Jr. of Fruita, Colorado, that Model A would be transformed into a rusty, vicious rat rod.
These steampunk-style copper pipes with vintage pull cords control airflow to the suspensi
Mike was no stranger to building custom trucks, having been involved in the scene since age 16. His previous truck, a slammed 1979 Datsun 620 Bulletside, had been featured in Mini Truckin' as well as several other magazines. Despite all the hard work he had put into it, he knew it was time to start something new. While looking for a new project, he came across a Model A in Lancaster, California, and the owner offered him a straight trade for his Datsun. He jumped at the chance, and immediately began to tear apart the truck. "I just have always had a passion for these older muscle American-made rods," Mike writes. In his talented hands, the Ford began its metamorphosis.
First, Mike broke out his torch and welder and began to modify the chassis, leaving almost nothing untouched. He started with '32 Ford frame horns, and added a custom boxed and tubed rear half, using the crossmember as an air tank for his suspension. The front end consists of a straight-axle with split wishbones and Air Ride Shockwave 7000 'bags. In the rear, Mike built a custom four-link setup with a 10-bolt El Camino axle and Eaton 3.42 limited slip. On top of this chassis and suspension, Mike placed the 1931 Model A pickup body, which he had chopped, dropped and sectioned. Its rusty patina shows the truck's 80-year history, and custom touches like a tractor handle suicide shifter and alligator skin bucket seats show incredible attention to detail.
After he finished with the chassis, suspension and bodywork, next on the chopping block was the Model A's motor, originally an asthmatic 3.3L inline-four. Mike started with a 454ci big-block Chevy V-8, and took it to Top End Performance, in Grand Junction, Colorado, where it was bored to 463ci, decked and honed. Mike then took the motor to Big Willie's Garage, also in Grand Junction, where it was assembled, incorporating Eagle Rods, Speed Pro pistons, Comp Cams hydraulic roller camshafts, and a fully built valvetrain. It was then mated to a '60s-era Powerglide transmission built by Baker Transmissions in Grand Junction. In the end, the powerplant would crank out a muscular 540 hp and 580 lb-ft.
Overall, Mike couldn't be happier with his crazy rat rod and his decision to try something new. He writes, "It sure felt great to breathe life back into this vintage piece of history. This truck carries major attitude now." Mike wants to thank his friends Willie Davis, Oshay Foster, Jeff Bates, and Donovan Otero, as well as all the shops that helped with his build for their assistance with the project.
Inside the Build
Year Make Model: 1931 Ford Model A Pickup
Owner and City/State: Michael Partyka Jr. • Fruita, Colorado
Towering velocity stacks make the roaring Chevy big-block all the more imposing. Mike tell
Type: '74 463ci big-block Chevy V-8
Heads: '74 Chevy Oval Port
Cam: Comp Cams hydraulic roller .576-lift
Induction: Inglese 8 Stack
Exhaust: Custom headers by Big Willie's Garage
Cooling: Speedway Motors aluminum radiator with custom skidplate
Fuel System: Weber 44 IDF dual carburetors
Ignition: MSD Digital E-Curve
Output: 540 hp, 580 lb-ft of torque
Built by: Machining by Top End Performance, Grand Junction, Colorado. Assembly by Big Willie's Garage, Grand Junction, Colorado.
Transmission: '60s Powerglide with Street Fighter torque convertor
Rearend: 10-bolt Chevy with an Eaton 3.42 limited slip
Front suspension: Straight-axle with split wishbones
Rear suspension: Four-link with Watt's link
Brakes: So-Cal Speed Shop disc brakes
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: 20x9½ & 22x11½ Bonspeed Clutch
Tires: 265/35R22 and 245/35R20 & 285/35R22 Nitto NT555