A Long Time Coming: Tom Lieb’s 1929 Ford Roadster Sat on the Backburner for 50 Years


Text and Photos by Courtney Halowell

A Long Time Coming: Tom Lieb’s 1929 Ford Roadster Sat on the Backburner for 50 Years

Tom Lieb is no stranger to the hot rod community or the restoration community or the air-cooled VW community. It would just be easier to say that Tom is an all-around car guy than to list all of his interests because the list would go on and on. We’re sure that we would miss a couple of entries, too. You’d think that a guy with so many varied interests would get bored with endlessly talking about cars, but when we were shooting his absolutely breathtaking Model A roadster that you see on these pages, he was happy to show us all of the neat little custom-built items like the spring-loaded hood-side holders or the column drop made from a rumble lid hinge.

Tom also let us in on a little of the car’s history. He has actually owned the car for 53 years now. But much of that time the little Model A was pushed onto the backburner as he worked on other projects. But once it was the roadster’s turn in the spotlight, Tom had a very specific idea how he wanted the car to look. He wanted a very traditional-looking car built as it would have been in 1963, with many of the parts coming out of his personal stash of ultra-rare items. Take the headlights and matching taillight for example, they came from a 1922 Wills St. Claire. The hood latches actually came from a 1922 Duesenberg, the deck lid handle is from a 1937 Ford, the emergency brake lever is from a 1921 Cadillac, the swing pedal assembly and the master cylinder are from a 1959 Chevy truck, and the steering box is from a 1956 Ford F-100. There is also a 1940 Ford/Hallibrand  quick change rear axle that can be found under the rear of Lieb’s ride.

The unique headlights are from a 1922 Wills St. Claire, somewhere there is a restorer gently weeping.

An original Halibrand quick change found its way under the back of Tom’s roadster.

Then there are the items that didn’t come off a car, but are rare nonetheless, like the modified B29 bomber oxygen tank that is now mounted in the trunk and lives its new life as the roadster’s fuel tank; or the factory Ford Flathead headers that were built for armored personal carriers in World War II that Tom found in a barn in New Zealand.

The fuel tank is actually a modified oxygen tank from a B29.

He also pointed out how the passenger compartment had been opened up 3 inches and how the bottom of the body has been modified to fit perfectly on top of the ’32 frame; or how the angle of the windshield matched the angle of the back of the top and how the louvers in the hood sides also matched the angle of the windshield. He also noted how the hood latches don’t use bases that are spaced out off the frame with l-brackets that just seem to hang out in space. It is all of the little details like those that makes Lieb’s roadster look right.

He took truckload after truckload of these rare parts out to SoCal Speed Shop and left them in the capable hands of Jimmy Shine and Pete Chapouris to put it all together into a stellar automobile. And after seeing the craftsmanship that went into this car, we firmly believe that Tom made the right choice when he picked SoCal to build his roadster.

One puzzle was how to incorporate a horn button in a quick-release steering wheel. The horn button actually nudges against a rod that runs down the center of the column and pushes on a switch at the base of the column.

Tom would like to thank all of the guys from SoCal Speed Shop for their workmanship and their commitment to an old-style build, H&H Flatheads, Coker Tires, the crew from SCAT Enterprises and his wife Carrie for all of their support during the construction of his ’29 roadster.

Frame/Manufacturer: 1932 Ford/SoCal
Wheelbase: 106
Rearend: 1940 Ford Halibrand
Rear Suspension: Model A spring and cross member
Rear Brakes: 1940 Ford
Front Suspension: Model A/1959 Bell Auto Parts drop
Front Brakes: 1940 Ford
Master Cylinder: 1959 Chevy pickup
Steering Box: Ford F-100
Steering Linkage: Ford F-100
Steering Column: Custom w/quick-release wheel
Front Wheels: 5 x 17 Coker with Kelsey Center
Front Tires: 5.50 x 17 Coker Excelsior
Rear Wheels: 6 x 17 Coker with Kelsey Center
Rear Tires: 6.00 x 17 Coker Excelsior
Fuel Tank: Modified B29 Bomber oxygen tank

Make/Displacement: 296-ci Ford Flathead
Machining/Assembly: H&H Flatheads
Heads: Edelbrock
Alternator: 12-volt Ford Generator
Manifold/Induction: Edelbrock/Stromberg 97s
Ignition: Mallory
Exhaust: Ford World War II
Transmission: Aluminum Borg Warner Top Loader
Shifter: Jeep tower

Body Style/Manufacturer: Original 1929 Ford
Hood: SoCal Speed Shop
Radiator: Brass
Grille: 1929 Ford
Bodywork By: SoCal Speed Shop
Paint Type/Color: Ford Washington Blue w/Black blend
Painted By: SoCal Speed Shop
Headlights: 1922 Wills St. Claire
Tail Lights: 1922 Wills St. Claire
Other Body Modifications: Body modified to bolt directly on top of ’32 frame, 1924 Duesenberg hood latches, 1937 Ford deck lid handle, chopped windshield, extended passenger compartment, custom folding top by SoCal, custom hood side louvers

Dash: Custom by SoCal Speed Shop
Gauges: Custom by SoCal Speed Shop
Stereo: None
Wiring: Custom by SoCal Speed Shop
Steering Wheel: Custom by SoCal Speed Shop
Upholstery By: Gabe
Fabric/Leather Color: Green
Seat Manufacturer: Custom by SoCal Speed Shop

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