what an I getting myself into ??? a replica T "speedster" ???

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Well-known member
Aug 13, 2012
southern MN
so I have a survivor condition 38 Nash, that I'd like to give a break for a year, & freshen the motor & tranny... The Studie Roadster in my build thread, is progressing very slowly ( I keep coming up with more & better ideas, & the body work gets more & more complex )... so I need something I can crank out sooner, to cruise with, before I damage something in the Nash motor cruising it around

while scrapping the 50 year old scrap pile at the farm, I ran across a model T chassis ( they used to attach draw bars & use them for farm wagons ) this got me thinking about a model T speedster ( since I didn't have any sheet metal )... well the frame is twisted up, but has all the suspension components...

my thoughts...

buy an older ( small size ) Ford Ranger, or S-10 2 WD regular cab, 4 or 6 cylinder with a 5 speed, & strip the body off, & bolt a few speedster parts onto it & have a ride to cruise while the Nash gets rebuilt, then later look at converting the suspension to custom, but resembling the T's buggy style...

so I've started collecting a few body parts, picking up a hood & I just bought a cowl... there are a couple styles of seats ( I'm leaning towards the aluminum riveted bomber style seats, but since I need to have the MRS along for the ride, there are other options...

for wheels I'm thinking the front 10 spoke aluminum gasser type wheels, with a set of narrow regular car tires on all 4's, maybe paint them up to look like wood spokes, just to further the illusion

thoughts or suggestions ??? I'm planning on the roller pick up with my Christmas bonus, & going from there... have to wait on wheels, until I buy either the Ford or the Chevy
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sounds like a good plan, just don't lose sight of the other project.

l have done that, it is easy to get distracted and and not finish or ignore the original project/goal.

l have 2 that are on "temporary" hold, a 66 chevelle l started in '99 and is almost done and a 57 chevy l started to rebuild in '91 and neither are gonna get finished anytime in the near future because the others l am working on instead of finishing them.

by starting the 3OISH dodge and the race car dirt street legal project it pushed the other 2 to the back of the line.

however, l put my son's truck to top of the list because of how special the 1948 dodge truck is to me. we did get it done and l did not get distracted, so it is possible to switch to another project and finish it. :D

Later :cool:
I built this speedster on an A chassis. Used 1/2" square tube to form the body framing and then spot welded steel sheet to it. It was really fun and went fast!

I would forget the T frame. You'd be better off making a simple square tube frame, maybe even buy a simple T bucket frame.

I have this build thread on here and another speedster I built if you want some ideas


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I love the whole idea of speedsters. Simple and cheap. I even had one rolling but it morphed into a pickup with a wooden TT type cab. Will be watching to see what you come up with. Fortunately Big Irish jumped in here. He builds them with show quality bodywork. :cool:
Hi Magnum. Here's my two cents worth. The Ranger frame is about 31" wide just below the firewall and about 33" wide below the back of the seat. I've been reading the threads on here for a while and it looks like the S-10 frame flares out wide about at the firewall; so wide it takes some surgery to get a '40's truck cab on there. Measure your prospective donor vehicle and estimate how wide you want the speedster. Good Luck and keep on tinkering.
IRISH... thanks for the pics...

MAC... thanks for the info on the chassis'...

I was leaning towards the Ford, just so everything ( at least to start with ) would all be the same corp. ( I'm not a fan of Chevy motors in old Ford cars & the like ) I've heard there are more lowing options on the S-10, but with the speedster idea, I'm not looking to lower it any way, & I was concerned with the frame width ( trying to keep it as narrow as possible )

I've heard the early Rangers had the twin I beam ( like the bigger trucks ) then they went to A arms ??? I don't know which frame / suspension type would be better suited to modifying with a single I beam later down the road???

main goal here, is to get something reliable to cruise, without too much work, or too much expense ( still need to rebuild that Nash :) ) & that I can add to as I go along... there are not many speedsters around here, so it'll be something a little different...
thought I'd post a couple pics, to give you guys a couple ideas what I see in my mind...

front end like this ( but with sides on the hood )... with maybe a full width 1/2 windshield

back end like this... ( I like the sloped back, with the spare mounted on it )

no fenders, my hood has full sides with 18 louvers I'll keep, to hide the newer power plant... all my parts are rusty right now, so I don't know if I'll keep the rust this next year, or prime them up???

this is the 2 types of seats I'm looking at...

might look kinda like this ???

wife & I might look more like this though, at least to start with :) ( of course we're much older though ;) )

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A few thoughts for you, as I went through all of this several times and weighed alot of options:

- Ranger frames are ugly. Lots of wierd shapes and the 2 sides are not symmetrical. Only the late models had A-arm suspension, all the older ones had twin I-beam. I'm a Ford guy too but S-10 is a much better looking frame.

- Any modern frame will be way too thick (tall) to look nice. If you want it to look old, then need to use an old frame (or build one).

- The engines on any modern-ish frame sit way too far forward in the frame to look nice. Engine needs to be well behind of the front axle, not right on top of it. The radiator grill will be sticking way out in front otherwise.

- It sounds pretty simple to just get a modern truck chassis, throw on some seats & bodywork, but you will spend way more time trying to modify it to look old than if you just started from scratch. $500 t-bucket frame is a good starting point.

- On a car with no fenders, anything but a straight axle looks bulky and way too modern.

Here's another one I made. See how far back the engine is? Also note how narrow the body & frame are. Modern frames are way too wide as well


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appreciate the comments...

yes I know the frame will be both taller & wider ( I guess I didn't realize it would be "ugly" though :) )

the front wheel placement is a valid point,,, as far as looks go...

one problem the Ranger does for me though, is gives me a current licensed chassis, & a title... if I were starting from scratch, I'd be driving the Nash, until something gives way in the engine ( MN is a little tougher to title a car than some other states... from what I understand )

I may have to "put up with" the look of the front end, to have a driver to cruise with next summer, to keep from having to drive the Nash

( I worry about the Nash motor, as I'm trying to keep as much stock as possible, & if I "pounded" something in the original engine, finding replacement parts can be very difficult... as I found out getting good brakes on the car, after I bought it )

so I'm looking for the easiest ( & cheapest... so I can still afford the Nash rebuild ) way to pull this off... I am conscious of the looks / lines of the vehicle, so I may have to "Frankenstein" it a little to keep things looking alright
Hey another idea is to buy a running/driving Model A and then part it out. You can easily recoup the total price of the car by selling the body to a hot rodder and the fenders, running boards, seats, other non-hot rod parts to a Model A restorer.

Then you will have a running & driving chassis for free. Believe it or not, that's what I did with the red speedster. I even made enough money parting it out to buy another good running engine! The car only cost me a few bucks for steel and new tires! I kept the title.

All the value in Model A's is the body and fenders. That would be a very easy speedster to build and would be alot of fun.
that's a good idea for sure... but would add at least a year extra for me to pull off...

I don't know if the Nash could hold up to another year's wait :eek:

I'm pretty sold on at least trying something along the lines I layed out... maybe it'll need a "track nose" or ??? maybe a speedster wouldn't be the best choice???
maybe something styled more like this would look better on that type of frame ???

or... I run it through the 1st summer with tires back of the radiator, & the next winter I swap an I beam axle in that frame, ( modify the frame if needed ) & move the wheels forward then???
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Ya Magnum, BigIrish has a point about the frame looking way to deep under a speedster, so I lean toward making a T-tub on the Ranger frame and be driving it by next summer. The Ranger frame under my '36 is an '87 and beefy. It also has two 'Z's' which is nice for lowering, but you don't need that on a speedster.
When we pile up information and opinions in front of you it probably doesn't make your decision any easier to make. But keep on tinkering.
I found this vintage rod... bigger heavier frame, Chevy or Dodge ??? looks like leaf springs in the rear...

still looks kinda cool :)

Yeah that one is cool. But again that frame is nice and straight, looks old.

There is a guy I know building a speedster on an early 50's chevy PU chassis. The frame looks similar to that pic and will be a decent foundation. He just needs to move the engine back and it will look pretty good.

Might be able to pick up one reasonably cheap and sell the cab to a rat rodder? The old straight 6 would be perfect for a narrow body too.
well...best I can tell, this is the "ugly" / wavy Ranger frame...


my buddy with the fabrication shop has a 10ft break, I was thinking about maybe bending up some "frame covers" I wouldn't be able to make it straight & flat, but could possibly ( just using sheet metal ) make some frame covers, that looked kinda "zee'd" where the frame is not flat ??? while these sheet metal "C" pieces would have to be wide, probably not quite as wide as the pic of the Pikes Peak car

a lot of the speedsters have a frame cover of sorts to hide the frames


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Yeah if you wanted to extend the bodywork below the frame, you could hide it. On my silver one, the bodywork wraps around below the frame.

But that's alot more work than just building a platform on top like you were orginally talking about.

Just sayin....the more you think about all the work to make a modern frame work, you realize the work to do so really adds up. Alot of stuff to cut off, move, or cover up.

Another idea is an old mail jeep chassis. Those things are dirt cheap, have 4 bangers and the frames are small & pretty straight. The steering column can be moved to the other side pretty easily (I checked into this option too :D)

I'm kinda a Jeep guy... the DJ-5 is now rare as hens teeth... but you are correct, that would be a good option with the straight axle 2 WD front...

MRS... would kill me if I took her CJ2A & turned it into anything but a Jeep

I still have my competition 80 CJ-5 ( been retired for a long time now ) that could be a possibility... already has the posi 427 geared Dana 44 in the rear, a built Turbo 350, & set up for a small block Chevy... been toying with doing something with that, hot rod style for a while now... awe... now you're getting me sidetracked ;)
Here's some thoughts on the Ranger frame - with some tweaking you can use anything, just depends on how much work you want to put into it. You gotta move the engine back at the very least or as has been said, it just won't look good at all with the rad hangin' out ahead of the tires. I'd trim the front frame horns down to give them a nice upward sweep and downward pointing tip like the oldies. Here's some pics of the 78 F150 frame I modified for my Hennway where I did just that - I also cut the frame in the middle to straighten it out and sliced and diced the rear to give it more kickup. The rear frame horns could also be thinned out to improve their profile, I didn't since mine is covered by the body. The Ranger front suspension ain't pretty though, perhaps the most visually offending thing would be the coil springs and their spring towers - a possible fix for that would be to toss them and build a new crossmember to hold an early Ford style transverse buggy spring. Other than that, there are a bazillion ugly holes that would need welding up to pretty it up some more. If you have the time, tools, vision and determination anything is possible.... [;)


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