The Vault

A Story to Tell – Henry Aldana’s 1928 Roadster

Anne Grinney-Colomban Car Feature, Pinup Tags: , , , , , ,
1928 Ford Model A Roadster

Word: Tony “T-Bone” Colombini

Photos: Mike Basso

Model: Erica Falcon

“When I was 4 years old, my dad had a ’29 Model A Tudor. On a trip to the local dump, the tranny locked up and he had to drive all the way back home in reverse! I looked out the rear window and pretended I was driving. That experience got me hooked on cars,” states our hero of this story, Henry Aldana.

The stories don’t stop there. In the late ‘40s, Henry’s parents heard the call to go west. His father, a Union Pacific Railroad employee, secured a transfer from Laramie, Wyoming, to Los Angeles. Henry’s mother and younger siblings preceded his, and then later his father’s, move. Henry didn’t realize that he was moving to the hot rod mecca of the time.

These snippets of what could be long stories build a foundation for what led to this hot rod build. What may appear to be a rather ordinary 1928 primered roadster has some very interesting and unique history behind it.

The historic part of the car is those who helped with the build. Tom Hutchenson, an old Bonneville buddy and member of the “Hutchenson Boys of La Puente” built the engine with a Mercury crank, Potvin cam, and Edmunds custom heads, intake manifold, and air cleaner. That’s all the right speed equipment of the day. The transmission was built by the one-and-only late Joe “Mac” McClelland from Ford Parts Obsolete, and the swap meet find basket case quick-change rear was assembled by Dave Enmark, former owner of Super Bell Axle Company.

In 1962 Henry bought his first roadster, a stock roadster, which is in his garage today. For this build, Henry picked up a Brookville body so as not to cut apart his gennie.

“It would be easy to say we planned every move on the build, but the truth is it was all a happy accident,” says Henry.

With the help of friends and Mitch Howe’s welding expertise, Henry gathered parts over the years, without any real plan in mind. After reading several books and magazines, they built the exhaust out of a ’36 driveshaft. The remaining spline ends were welded to a piece of round stock and became the rear bumper. The gas cap was found at a swap meet with a pressure gauge as an early pressurized fuel concept to make the car go faster, although it worked in theory only.

Henry is a storyteller. If you come up to his car he may blow you away by his inventive stories that will leave you entertained and others scratching their heads. For example, the shifter knob. The knob itself is an old plastic doorknob. The coin is a swap-meet find. Henry’s friend Keith Miller placed the knob on his mill, bored the circular hole to fit the coin. Crazy little stuff like that is all over the car.

Henry has heard stories, too. He was looking for some Hawaiian plates for the car. His buddy Scott says he has a set from 1958 and to come over and take a look. They weren’t Hawaiian plates but from Okinawa, Japan. Scott gets blushed as he realizes; at least it’s in the right ocean.

Yet, my favorite story is the one about the art on the generator of “Hot Rod Lilly.” Lilly is his 11-year-old granddaughter and the youngest sibling of her brothers Tyler and Jacob. When working in the garage they are known as the “Garage Monkeys,” and when they attend events, everyone knows them as the “Garage Maniacs.”

For such a Frankenstein of a car, friends say it rides remarkably smooth, too smooth for a hot rod, and is a fun ride for sure. The car pays tribute to the Trompers club founder, Don Zabel. His knowledge and insights are always welcomed, and he is an all around great guy. You will see Henry’s grin, just like it was at four years old, as he cruises all around Southern California.


Owner/Builder: Henry Aldana

Occupation: Retired

Location: Glendora, CA

Vehicle: 1928 Ford Model A Roadster

Other Body Modifications: ’32 Frame / ’36 Rearend

Grille Shell: 1929 Ford

Paint: Red primer

Painter: Stay Sick Originals

Custom Graphics: All by Stroken the Pinstriper

Engine: 1946/48 Ford flathead

Transmission: 1939 Ford

Intake & Carb: Edmunds intake w/2 Ford 94 Carbs

Ignition: Electronic 12-volt

Exhaust: Headers into 1936 Ford driveshafts (Mitch Howe)

Rear End: 1936 Ford w/Cyclone quick-change

Suspension: F- Dropped front axle on transverse spring, tube shocks; R- Model A spring, tube shocks

Brakes: 1940 Ford

Wheels: 16” Kelsey-Hayes

Tires: F- 6.00-16 Coker/Firestone; R- 8.90-16 Coker/Firestone

Seat: Stock

Upholstery: Moving blanket (by Sew Cal Upholstery)

Dashboard: 1932 Ford w/Faria boat gauges

Steering Column: Speedway

Steering Wheel: 3-spoke aluminum

Taillights: 1939 Ford

Club Affiliation: Eagle Rock Trompers & Cal Rods