Joe and Jerry Valdez's 1921 Ford

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A photo of the in-progress chassis taken in the 1950s. The photo was taken in the front yard of the same house where Austin Thornton purchased the old hot rod in 2019. "It has a very low quick-change and a moly tube chassis that is running friction shocks and a Frankland cowl steering box," Austin told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama. Photo courtesy of Austin Thornton.
Another old photo of the car that the seller gave Austin after he had purchased it. This photo shows the Model T as it appeared after Joe and Jerry had given it a blue faded paint job and a show rod treatment. Photo courtesy of Austin Thornton.
A photo of the roadster that James Handy took at the 1973 or 1974 National Roadster Show. Photo from The James Handy Photo Collection.
The flamed iteration of the car shown at the National Roadster Show sometime between 1975 and 1977. Photo from The James Handy Photo Collection.
The roadster as it sat in 2019, after Austin Thornton had purchased it. Photo courtesy of Austin Thornton.
Photo courtesy of Austin Thornton.
Photo courtesy of Austin Thornton.
Photo courtesy of Austin Thornton.
Photo courtesy of Austin Thornton.
Photo courtesy of Austin Thornton.

1921 Ford Model T Roadster owned and built by Joe and Jerry Valdez of Oakland, California.[1]

Fully chromed show car

Early, undated photos of the roadster show it featuring a blue faded paint job. James Handy photographed a fully chromed version of it at the 1973 or 1974 National Roadster Show. By then it sported a Blue Metalflake paint job with Silver Blue trim by Al Fettke of Hayward. Inside, it ran a red Naugahyde diamond tuck custom upholstery by Jim's Custom Auto Upholstery in San Leandro. Power came from a 327 Chevrolet engine, and it ran a custom dash with Stewart-Warner gauges. According to the display card next to the car, the chassis was made from molly tubing. It ran a Model A front axle with Impala disc brakes, Frankland steering, homemade wishbone, radius rods, bumpers, headers, and side pipes. The engine was hooked to a Muncie 4-speed transmission and a Low quick-change rear axle. Parts came from Buss Auto Shop of Oakland, and the wiring was performed by Harry Quadros. It was dressed up with Ansen mag wheels and Sonic tires.[2]

Flame paint job

The Valdez roadster went through at least a couple iterations before Joe and Jerry put it in storage in the late 1970s. By then every nut and bolt had been chromed, and it featured chromed floor pans, a fully chromed undercarriage, and a flame paint job. Al Fettke applied the flames, and he told later owner Austin Thornton that he took it down to bare metal. Fettke also told Austin that Joe painted the car in his wife's favorite color and added the heart in the top for her. Fettke remembers Joe having his garage full of old racing stuff in the 1970s. Flatheads and speed equipment.[1]

Austin Thornton purchases it

Austin Thornton of Clovis, California purchased the old hot rod in Oakland, California in 2019. The guy he bought it from knew nothing about its history, he had just bought the house where the car was sitting in the garage. "The yard was full of cars and he pushed the T-bucket out of the garage where it sat for a year," Austin told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in September of 2019. Sitting outside, the blower and valve covers were stolen for aluminum scrap. "He cleaned out the house where he said there was a room full of trophies and parts from the T-bucket, which he threw in the trash. He ended up finding two pictures of it a couple of months later in an old cabinet that shows the car's chassis with a mid-plate and center steering sitting in the front yard at the same house where I purchased it." The seller told Austin that the owner's son said it was a race car along time ago. He also told him that the original owner's name was Joe Valdez. Searching the web for photos of the car, he came across a couple from James Handy's old albums, taken at the Oakland Roadster Show between 1973 and 1977. The photos show a couple of different iterations of the car, but none in its current configuration with a flame paint job running a blower and a fully polished automatic transmission.[1]

Roaring Roadster

According to the souvenir program from the 1974 Grand National Roadster Show, the roadster was formerly a "Roaring Roadster" back in 1948, and was only recently changed over to a street machine.[3]

Clean up, then maybe restore

In 2019 Austin wanted to clean the car up as good as he could without changing anything except for the missing blower and valve covers, showing it for some time. Long term plans included maybe restoring it back to its race days or early show car days.

Do you recognize this car?

Austin is currently researching the history of the old Oakland hot rod, looking for photos of the car back in its racing days. "It has a very lLOW quickchange and a moly tube chassis that is running friction shocks and a Frankland cowl steering box." It had a full race flathead, and by looking at the photos and the parts on the car Austin believes it was raced sometime in the 1940s, running the Eddie Meyer 1936 Ford Flathead. Austin also thinks Joe purchased the car in the 1950s as a race car, taking it apart in the mid to late 1950s to turn it into a show car. Please get in touch with Kustomrama at if you recognize the car and have more info to share about it.


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