1926 Ford Model T Sedan: Revamped with a 302 V8 Engine

Ford Model T Sedan Featuring Hot Rod Style with plenty of Modern Upgrades

By Brian Brennan   –   Photography By Wes Allison

There are many reasons why any of us build the hot rod project we do. It can be that it reminds us of something very cool from our youth, maybe we had something similar, or just maybe it brings back an old memory lifted from the magazine pages of a vintage car magazine. There are as many reasons as there are hot rods. Such is the case for Lyle Milliman of Arizona and his latest project, this 1926 Ford Model T sedan.

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Lyle will not hide the fact he was looking for a Model A sedan but then one day came across this 1926 Ford sedan. He had seen plenty of Model As but hadn’t seen many of the Model T varieties. This one caught his attention and he felt it was unique and that would make it even more fun to hot rod around. While what you see in front of you is just recently finished, the fact is Lyle had driven the car in its original black paint and upholstery for years.

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Typically, one of the first questions asked when a hot rodder begins a Model T project is, “Will you be chopping it?” Many times, this occurs, but rodders who build Ts often get a kick out of keeping the tall-square look. It sure does make the Model T stand out from the rodding crowd. And that was Lyle’s thinking.


The 1926 Ford Model T sedan is all steel, just as it came from Henry back in the day. From here Lyle fit a Model A front visor, a 1929 Ford front bumper (although lowered and tucked), 1932 Ford door handles, and steel splash aprons punched with louvers by Chip. More custom treatments include the 1935-40 Ford-style mirror stems with Model A mirrors attached and a homemade custom-dropped headlight bar that holds up the stock Model T lighting—note the front and rear lighting are all LED. The four-piece hood is a Rootlieb with side louvers. There was plenty of bodywork to be done but the necessary patch panels were handled by Lyle. The final bodywork was conducted at Ultimate Collision, and it was they, too, who applied the burgundy base coat followed by the clearcoat.

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Inside the stock Model T dash top surrounds a 1932 Ford dash and aftermarket insert that is filled with AutoMeter gauges, Vintage Air controls and air registers as well as the ignition switch. Lyle fitted the Painless Performance Products wiring kit as well as installed the Vintage Air system. The Peterbilt air condenser, complete with its cooling fans and shroud (owner fabricated), is installed behind the passenger side splash apron. The tach is mounted to the bottom of the dash and to the left of the GM truck tilt steering column that is topped with a Speedway Motors three-spoke banjo steering wheel. We should note that the column is held in position with a connecting rod serving as the column drop. The front buckets are Model A with custom-made stainless trim to mimic a mid-’60s-looking Chevy Impala. (That’s an L.A. Roadsters Show mug resting on the floor between the seats.) The rear seat is a 1926 Ford Model T. The seating is covered in Chestnut vinyl, the headliner is Chestnut Suede, and the carpeting is German square weave all done by hot rod upholsterer supreme Glenn Kramer of Hot Rod Interiors by Glenn in Arizona.

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The ’rails are based on a bare perimeter frame by California Custom Roadster utilizing a 101-inch wheelbase. In the rear, the frame features a 2-inch kick around the 2×3-inch tubing. From here Lyle welded up the front and rear four-bar kits that were attached to the California Custom Roadster frame rails.

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The suspension consists of a Pete and Jakes four-bar frontend with a SO-CAL Speed Shop–supplied 4-inch drop I-beam axle, chrome tube shocks with early Ford spindles, and SO-CAL steering arms. The front transverse leaf spring features reversed eyes and has “buttons” between the leaves to ease the ride. The rack-and-pinion steering is a 1969 Mustang quick ratio that is twisted into action through a 1969 GM truck tilt steering column. Outback is a 1971 Maverick 8-inch rear end along with a 2.78 ring-and-pinion and stock axles, an owner-built Panhard bar and AFCO coilovers from Speedway Motors are used in the back.

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The braking is based on a pair of GM metric single-puck calipers along with Speedway Motors vented 11-inch rotors while in the rear there are Ford drums. The brake system is operated by a Wilwood dual master cylinder through a pedal assembly that Lyle hammered out himself. The wheels are the hot rod-friendly five-spoke polished mags. This time the venerable American Racing Torq Thrust II measures 15×4 in front and 15×6 in back and they are surrounded with Vredestein Sprint Classic radial tires at 155SR/15 and BFGoodrich 225LT75R15 in the back.

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Power for the tall T comes by way of a 5.0L (302 inches) V8 that began its life as an EFI motor. It didn’t take Lyle long to replace the EFI with an Street Master Edelbrock intake manifold and 500-cfm four-barrel carburetor with an inline Holley fuel gauge. The air cleaner is a Speedway Motors piece that was then hand painted with a “Mercury Special V8” logo while the polished valve covers are the old-school Mickey Thompson (M/T) model. Ignition comes by way of a PerTronix distributor with 8mm Moroso spark plug wires, a Powermaster alternator, Ford starter, and is lit by an Optima RedTop battery. Coated Sanderson shorty (1-7/8-inch) headers are used along with a 2-1/4-inch exhaust pipe running back to a single Flowmaster muffler. The transmission is a 1966 Ford C4 with a Hughes Street Master 2,500-rpm stall speed converter.

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In case you are wondering if this is a driver, think about this. Lyle and fellow hot rod buddy and upholsterer supreme Glenn Kramer drove the Tall T to last year’s Grand National Roadster Show … and back. There’s a 900-mile trip to prove it is a driver. MR

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Standing Tall.

mr april 2024

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