The Vault

Epiphany: Brian Lee’s 1929 Model A

Anne Grinney-Colomban Car Feature, Pinup Tags: , , ,
1929 Model A

Brian Lee has had enough of small block Chevy Model A Fords with billet bling.


True Hot Rodders

Brian Lee and his brothers grew up surrounded by cars and motorcycles. As they walked around the Daytona Rod Run one year looking at some decent customs, they just couldn’t seem to find that one true ol’ school hot rod. There were lots of Model As full of billet and small block Chevy mills, but very few flatheads in any cars whatsoever. After three days of searching for the perfect hot rod, Brian had an epiphany.

He told his brothers, “I need to build a true flathead powered hot rod.”


Quality Parts

A couple years later, in 2012, while searching eBay for parts, he scored some Model A pieces and a frame. He even drove from Florida to Iowa to pick them up. That pile of junk parts, coupled with his big imagination and a lot of determination, was the start of his hot rod project. One year later, his little Ford flatty, built from scratch in the garage, with a pedigree of period parts, rolled down the driveway on its first test run.

Brian recalls, “I learned that I can’t trust others to do the quality of work that I expected, so I ended up learning to do everything myself. It was a lot of work to do in one year. Finding quality parts was the hardest. Cheap aftermarket stuff doesn’t last but overall it was an easy build. A big thanks goes to McLeod Racing for their help and their products. Also, my brother let me use his paint booth.”


History & Heroes

All Brian Lee wanted to do was build a traditional rod; not a show rod, not a trophy car, but a true hot rod that would make old car guys proud, a car influenced by history exactly like those from the 1940s or 1950s.

The success of his project was ultimately seen in the faces of the old guard, in their expressions and comments as they reminisced about the early days when they ran their own Model As and flatheads. Brian’s full cam, bored and stroked, 1953 Mercury 8BA flatty V8 engine got a thumbs-up. So did the distressed buffalo leather interior.

In the Spring of 2014, Brian took his hot rod to Daytona, back to where his epiphany began and to his ultimate surprise, he left with the only trophy given out at the Daytona Spring Turkey Rod Run, the People’s Choice Award.


Brian Lee Speed & Custom

Today, Brian makes a living building cars and motorcycles. He now owns Brian Lee Speed and Custom.

“When I built this car, I never intended it to be a ‘show’ car,” he told us. “I built it to be a driven and did not make it too nice on purpose. I used single stage LIMCO paint in lieu of basecoat/clearcoat because I didn’t want it too shiny and I did not use chrome or any billet. I just wanted to build a great driving, traditional looking hot rod. And it’s not for sale. It’s Ground Zero for my business. I am currently building another personal car, a 1955 Oldsmobile 88 two-door hardtop. It will be chopped, channeled, sectioned and powered by a 1956 Chrysler 356 Hemi.”



  • Owner/Builder: Brian Lee
  • Vehicle: 1929 Ford Model A coupe
  • Chop: 6”
  • Channel: 4”
  • Grille Shell: 5½” sectioned 1932 Ford
  • Paint: Single stage Limco, dark green over black
  • Engine: 1953 Mercury 8BA flathead (276 cu. in.)
  • Transmission: 1993 Mustang T-5 5-speed
  • Intake & Carbs: Offy aluminum intake w/twin Holley Model 94 carbs
  • Exhaust: Lakes headers, exhaust wrap
  • Rear End: 1963 Ford 8” w/posi & 3.80 gears
  • Suspension: F- 4” dropped Super Bell I-beam, reversed-eye spring, hairpin radius rods; R- 4-bar, radius rods, Panhard bar, Model A reversed-eye spring
  • Brakes: 1940 Ford hydraulic
  • Wheels: F- 1940 Ford 16”; R- 1949 Ford
  • Tires: F- 6.70-15 Coker/Firestone WWW; R- 8.20-15 Coker/Firestone WWW
  • Upholstery: Distressed buffalo leather
  • Steering Column: Speedway Motors
  • Headlights: 1932 BLC
  • Taillights: 1940 HD tombstone


Words: Anna Marco; Photos: Alan Zusman; Model: K von Spun

Credits: MUAH – Liz (Red Lipstick Studio); Wardrobe- Bow Tiki, Nydia Fierro, Put On the Ritz   

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